This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: Allen Toussaint, Carlitta Durand, M-1 Platoon, Thee Tom Hardy, Nile, Krisiun, Immolation, Senryu, Juan Huevos, The Monologue Bombs, Bull City, Dynamite Brothers, Screaming Females, Dave Alvin, Kevin Blechdom
EH, WHATEVER: Joe Firstman
SONG OF THE WEEK: Laura Veirs' "I Can See Your Tracks"
02.18 ALLEN TOUSSAINT @ MEYMANDI CONCERT HALL
Allen Toussaint in 100 words? Tough task. Here, just scratching the surface, are 85: "Lipstick Traces (On a Cigarette)" and "Mother-in-Law." Professor Longhair. Minit Records. "A Certain Girl" and "What Do You Want the Girl to Do?" (and the Yardbirds and Warren Zevon and Lowell George and Bonnie Raitt). "Whipped Cream" aka The Dating Game theme song aka a nice chunk of performance royalties. The Band's Rock of Ages. "Southern Nights" and "Sneakin' Sally Thru the Alley." Irma Thomas singing "Cry On" and "It's Raining." The Bright Mississippi. "Yes We Can Can." The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. $20-$35/ 8 p.m. —Rick Cornell
02.18 CARLITTA DURAND, M-1 PLATOON, THEE TOM HARDY @ THE POUR HOUSE
Even though Carlitta Durand's The Doug and Patty EP project came out several months back, it's evident that some of us didn't hear it, which is why Durand is still putting in overtime to promote the darn thing. This time, however, she'll be sharing the stage with another nouveau daring damsel, Jocelyn Ellis of The Alpha Theory. Between the two, there's enough soul to fill a water tower and create a spillover that would flood a town with romance and heartbreak. If you feel too tenderized, rap acts Thee Tom Hardy, M-1 Platoon and Jabee will toughen things up. $6-$8/ 10 p.m. —Eric Tullis
02.19 NILE, KRISIUN, IMMOLATION @ VOLUME 11
What this bill lacks in heavy metal innovation it makes up for with sheer force. The Egyptian-obsessed Greenville, S.C., death metal band Nile (weird, right?) is a river of brutality. Barring the content of temples, pyramids, kings and, on last year's excellent Those Whom the Gods Detest, "foul canine excrement with barley flour smear[ed] on your shoulders," they're an efficient exercise in death metal orthodoxy—nothing fancy, but mighty and focused. New York's Immolation is slightly less standard, with riffs that stretch and stagger, but most exciting of late might be Brazilian trio Krisiun. Though now entering their third decade, this latest lineup is sharp and urgent, slapping at the drums and howling dark words with more concern for immediacy than meticulousness. Rose Funeral and Dreaming Dead open for the touring triumvirate. $20/ 7 p.m. —Grayson Currin
02.19 SENRYU, JUAN HUEVOS @ NIGHTLIGHT
Knoxville quartet Senryu moves between tense, spare indie rock and wayward dance tunes that suggest The Faint not swallowing their own humor. Live, though, they strive to make such comparisons only an entry point and to be more than just another band strolling into town. They create a theme, recruit party planners, get involved and aim for a night that does the nigh-impossible—making another night in another city, somehow, unique. Tonight's show commemorates a disastrous set of tornados in 1884 known as the Enigma Tornado Outbreak. Expect moving pictures of storms and moving air courtesy of a series of fans lining the venues. "We're just trying to create a sensory overload," says Senryu member Wil Wright. There are few party people in the area more able than hip-hopresario Juan Huevos, a performer so energetic he's his own hype man. Carrboro production team Gut Lightning adds beats in a mellow way, synths and snares floating up as if in an aquarium. Flicker's Jessye McDowell provides the night's visuals. $6/10 p.m. —Grayson Currin
02.20 THE MONOLOGUE BOMBS @ THE POUR HOUSE
The Monologue Bombs, formerly the solo shelter of Goner frontman Scott Phillips, are now three months into their new iteration as a Phillips-led local supergroup. The all-star assemblage—members of Birds of Avalon, The T's, Starmount, Utah! and The Tourist flesh out Phillips' accordion- or key-driven observations—accompanies an influx of local Americana talent tonight from special guests Travis Creed and Billie Karel, the lead voices of The Shucks, and Raleigh-via-Nashville pedal steel maestro Allyn Love. The show follows two performances of The Vagina Monologues, and half the cover goes to Wake County's domestic violence and sexual assault nonprofit, Interact. $8/ 10:45 p.m. —Spencer Griffith
02.20 BULL CITY, DYNAMITE BROTHERS @ THE PINHOOK
This doubleheader offers fine songwriting bolstered by loads of tasteful guitar. Between the country-fried riffing behind the tongue-in-cheek good ol' boy anthem "Ford Ranger All American" or the strings and gentle acoustic strums that score the coming-of-age realizations of "Easy," Bull City proves it's no one-trick pony, making faithful nods to Buffalo Springfield, Big Star and Jim O' Rourke with unwavering savvy. The Dynamite Brothers conjure dimly lit dives with swampy and slinky soul, powered by bongo-fueled grooves and searing guitar solos and covered in the urgency of garage rock and blues. $5/ 10 p.m. —Spencer Griffith
02.20 SCREAMING FEMALES @ DUKE COFFEEHOUSE
The minute Screaming Females lead singer and guitarist Marissa Paternoster starts to say her piece, memories of Corin Tucker's warbling holler will come to mind. When Paternoster opts to let her fingers do the talking, though, it's like Screaming Fem fan J Mascis is swinging his shaggy hair inches from your face. Except when she rips into Neil Young's "Cortez The Killer," her inner D. Boon drops a history lesson on the class (and the rhythm sections does a fine job giving the proceedings a Minutemen-y vibe). Aside from that cover of "Cortez," though, the latest Females release (the Singles EP) doesn't show the band at their best. It's when they take the stage (in person or on YouTube) that they'll give you the rock 'n' roll that you most definitely need. With Whatever Brains and JEFF The Brotherhood. $5/ 9 p.m. —David Raposa
02.21 DAVE ALVIN @ THE ARTSCENTER
In the 1980s, along with the likes of Jason Ringenberg, Steve Earle and Lucinda Williams, Dave Alvin pioneered what would become alt-country during the next decade. The Blasters, which Alvin ran with his brother, Phil, mixed rhythm & blues, rockabilly and hot-rod rock to perfection, while Alvin's post-Blasters work brought country and folk into the mix. (His Blue Blvd is required listening for any Americana fan.) Factor in his roles as bandleader, as producer for Big Sandy, Tom Russell, late pal Chris Gaffney and many others, and as side-project stalwart with the Knitters and Pleasure Barons, and you could make a case for awarding Alvin the title of Godfather of Roots Rock. And last year's record with the Guilty Women offered a full-circle moment in the form of an acoustic-country take on the Blasters' signature "Marie Marie." One of those Guilty Women, Cindy Cashdollar, joins Alvin for this show. $16-$18/ 7 p.m. —Rick Cornell
02.24 KEVIN BLECHDOM & MORE @ NIGHTLIGHT
An old-fashioned Nightlight overstock: Three touring bands from New England rip between filthy garage rock, psychedelic razes and noise dirges, while Ryan Martin and Irene Moon bring their new collaborative unit, Collection of the Late Howell Bend, to the stage. Speaking of Martin and Moon, they're supporting a new artist-in-residence program called Meadows of Dan, which brings a musician to town to perform and work on an extended piece. Kevin Blechdom, a female torch singer and songwriter interested in the intersection of acoustic and electronic accompaniment, is the program's first guest. She headlines tonight. Expect short sets and lots of them. 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin
02.18 JOE FIRSTMAN @ LOCAL 506
Charlotte native Joe Firstman spent his teenage years leading his eponymous band on the late-'90s Carolina college rock circuit, opening for scene stars like Edwin McCain before packing up and heading to Hollywood in 2001, eventually landing a gig as the bandleader for the talk show of a late-night pariah. If you're still reading (oops!), that first sentence must have stirred some nostalgia for generic, faux-soul pipes voicing sappy acoustic jangles.
Try to resist: Though Firstman occasionally sidesteps lyrical triteness in his verses, the dumbed-down choruses—"I can't stop loving you, baby/ but I can't stop hating myself" or "Lie awake with me/ I can make you beautiful again"—are engineered for maximum sing-along, totally braindead brawn. Firstman generally performs solo, so his one-man piano or guitar arrangements do little to obscure his overwrought songwriting. Openers Todd Carey and Ernie Halter peddle pedestrian singer-songwriter pop fare, too, making this bill best suited for a friendly bar bet that would test the limits (and sanity) of any discerning listener. Besides, if you don't believe in time, I'm sure a used copy of Cracked Rear View is floating around Schoolkids for eight bucks. $10/ 9 p.m. —Spencer Griffith
02.18 APPLESAUCE @ NIGHTLIGHT
Since his long stint with Jennyanykind, Mark Holland has been exploring the blues. He's inspired goose bumps with the off-kilter Jule Brown, and he's moved feet by jamming on organ as the head of Mark Holland's Rhythm Force. The new Applesauce is his sparest approach to the blues to date.
"It's something like a goal that I'm driving towards," Holland says, "just stripping down all the BS." That leaves Holland picking acoustic guitar with old bandmate Pete Waggoner. The two played their first show as a duo when the rest of Rhythm Force couldn't make a gig. "I think it struck a chord with me right then how well the set went. I knew that it was time to go ahead and move forward in that direction."
Holland's soulful murmur wills songs forward. Guitar notes sputter and pop like the engine of an old Model T. The two musicians make it sound like they salvaged their strings from a creaking screen door. "I'm trying to keep one foot in the past, but I don't want to be a nostalgic act," he says.
And so Applesauce mixes original tunes with traditional songs. A cover of T. Rex's 1970 glam rock hit "Ride a White Swan" morphs into a timeless, uneasy Rip Van Winkle dreamworld of blues.
"I think it is some deep-held view that I have about the world being menacing. I like that about music," Holland says of his music's dark side. "I like edginess in music." Durhamite Zeke Graves opens with the picked, growling meander of American Primitive guitar. 9:30 p.m. —Andrew Ritchey