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The guide to the week's concerts




Like a mid-aughts indie mixtape, this triple bill covers a lot of sonic territory without straying too far left of center. Opener Gross Ghost scrubs strong hooks with punk stutters and churning guitar noise, generating a lo-fi bristle that fits like a steel wool sweater. D.C.'s True Womanhood uses homemade instruments to create an array of textures and tones behind its pop songs. The trio's brand-new Basement Membranes EP, recorded at Brooklyn's Death By Audio, showcases both the band's ear for the experiments and its compulsion for melodies. Finally, Gray Young fills whatever space is left with tight, urgent post-rock that brims with confident crescendos and deliberate melodies. 9:30 p.m. —Bryan Reed


Part swing, part twang, The Swang Brothers deliver sentimental country crooning with early rockabilly bravura. Strummed acoustic guitar rings as slapped upright bass pulses. The glistening electric guitar sings counterpoint with deep and longing vocals. This trio's songs seem picked out of the air after traveling over the AM radio waves of the 1950s deep into the night. Led by the bluesy, no-nonsense vocals of Kelley Breiding, Kelley & The Cowboys take tonight's other half. The boys behind her—whether with fiddle and mandolin or stripped down to only guitar, bass and drums—shake dance floors with upbeat western swing and honky tonk. Consider Breiding the rodeo queen. 10 p.m.—Andrew Ritchey


This free showcase, sponsored by The Daily Tar Heel's Diversions, accommodates nearly all tastes while playing like a Best of the Bull City sampler. Patrick Phelan's star-studded Luego plays with sophistication and sincerity on indie-informed, roots-tinged nuggets that fit between classic rock and power pop. The Beast is conscious hip-hop of the highest degree, inflected by the scholarly acumen of emcee Pierce Freelon and the eclectic, jazz-enlightened backgrounds of the rhythm trio. Powerhouse quartet The Dirty Little Heaters crush like a steamroller with the blunt force of its bluesy garage rock and Reese McHenry's strong-arm shouts. Red Collar frontman Jason Kutchma opens with an acoustic set. Free/ 9:30 p.m. —Spencer Griffith


All Music Guide critic Stewart Mason combined the two words that might best describe Bowerbirds' music. Mason wrote that their music contained a certain "unfeigned positivity." For all the fuss that's been made over the band's ecologically aware lyrics and of the elegant acoustic folk music they play, it's the unflagging sense of optimism that makes them affecting. It's not to say that Bowerbirds are always cheerful—more often they seem patient and reflective. And it's not that the world these songs inhabit is perfect. But they sing that maybe it could be. Local favorites Midtown Dickens and Veelee open. $10–12/ 9:30 p.m. —Bryan Reed


Anyone who's ever been within shouting distance of a gospel tent knows that salvation songs need not be hushed and solemn. Belting it out is a time-tested way to spread the Word. Even when Mike Farris, former lead howler of the Screamin' Cheetah Wheelies, changed direction stylistically and spiritually, he didn't abandon the volume and thrust of rock 'n' roll. With the horn-sporting Roseland Rhythm Revue, however, it's soul-revue-style intensity that shifts things into overdrive. Whether reviving a traditional gospel number, sharing a like-minded original or dipping into The Staple Singers songbook, Farris delivers as if all souls in the room, his included, depend on it. $25/ 8 p.m. —Rick Cornell


Think Pelican with a drummer who understands syncopation, or Maserati with more Kyuss, less U2. Atop all that soars the mournful cry of a pedal steel, a painfully gorgeous if unlikely instrument for such a band. There were never that many post-rock supergroups to begin with, and Red Sparowes may be the last of their kind. Formed by members of Isis and several other dark mood-rock acts, the Sparowes have been plagued since inception with membership troubles. Four members split in as many years, perhaps explaining why the 2008 EP, Aphorisms, was such a disappointment. It played like a modern prog pop band minus the vocalist, instrumental rock's cardinal sin. A band this talented can do far better—and possibly will on their forthcoming album. Mega-thick Massachusetts band Doomriders open. $10–$12/ 9 p.m. —Corbie Hill


There's really no tender way to put this: Tonight's four-band bill is going to break your frame. While openers ExMonkeys make elegant, sometimes triumphant electronic anthems, the rest of the night offers total destruction, from gnarly noise-rock blitzes to grunting grindcore. Headlining Providence, R.I., trio White Mice dress like rodent doctors gone mad, and the music they make—rock gone wild on heavy metal, noise and guttural distortion, thanks to a system of oscillators and no-limits loudness—might make you hope for a hospital. Suffering Bastards' heavy metal is thicker and slower than your average grindcore, affording it a certain beastliness. Durham's Cheezface makes noise for dancing—spastic, crazyface dancing. Also, Big Nuss. 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin


Hirsute Isreali garage rocker trio Monotonix don't just play music—they make you experience it. It's not that they have a great stage show so much as a great crowd show, since that's where they spend most of their time. Drummer Haggai Fershtman likes to crowd-surf his kit, playing it from atop his bass drum. Yonatan Get's guitar is thick and darkly scabrous, like something Stooges guitarist James Williamson flushed while recording Raw Power. Singer Ami Shalev's performances are so incendiary, the band brings a six-pack of carbon tetrachloride on stage lest he spontaneously combust. Headliners in their own right, The Thermals make some of the best intelligent, hook-lined punk around. The animated melodies recall GBV or The Jam, and the arrangements strike sharply like This Year's Model-era Elvis Costello. Local openers Bellafea make knotty, barbed rock that writhes with impelling urgency. Also, Past Lives. $12–$14/ 8:30 p.m. —Chris Parker


For all the reggae tribute acts and revivalists that roll through the Lincoln, don't miss the real thing. The Wailers—yes, as in "Bob Marley and..."—center around Aston "Family Man" Barrett, who played a chief role in defining the island sound as bassist of The Upsetters and bandleader of The Wailers for more than a decade. Barrett has helped perpetuate Marley's legacy ever since—this tour celebrates his 40th year as a Wailer. Expect the hits—like a live version of Legend, performed by a key figure in its creation, with some fine stand-ins. Marley disciples Steve Martinez & The Give Thanks Band open. $17–20/ 8:30 p.m. —Spencer Griffith


  • Aloha

From: Cleveland
Since: 1997
Claim to fame: Diffuse, post-rock-inspired pop

This musical matchup resembles one of those televised cooking competitions. The pop-minded intent and most of the ingredients are the same, but the difference is how it's made and served. For a band whose predilections lean toward windy, rippling rock, Aloha is unusually tuneful. Where their peers drift into indulgent showmanship, they open the doors and windows to melody, ensuring the arrangements never get too stuffy. The presentation wafts subtle, urbane sophistication, too, as the songs unfold with graceful deliberation theatrically lit by keyboards. The style is well-suited to frontman Tony Cavallario's lithe croon. With Pomegranates and Ben Davis and the Jett$. At LOCAL 506. $10/ 9 p.m.


Roman Candle
  • Roman Candle

From: Nashville via Chapel Hill
Since: 1997
Claim to fame: Clever, well-crafted power pop with hooks big enough to bait Moby Dick

Roman Candle won't win everyone's favor, but their straightforward catchiness is unavoidable. It's crafted to knock out a wide swath of the audience—and anyone who doesn't see it coming. It's not as artless as radio pop, as there are baroque touches, sweet chiming rootsy strum, and other indie pop elements that lend a suitcoat of refinement. At its core, though, Roman Candle is a bottle rocket to the heart. It aims to fire the capillaries with honest, heartfelt hookiness—no feints or misdirections needed. Their guilelessness is by nature disarming, overwhelming the Aloha's slippery pop sensibilities. With The Ravenna Colt and The Parson Red Heads. At CAT'S CRADLE. $10/ 8:30 p.m. —Chris Parker


Lynn Blakely
  • Lynn Blakely

From: these days the wilds of Hillsborough, N.C.
Since: Early '80s
Claim to fame: That Voice (and, yes, it deserves to be capitalized)

Lynn Blakey's expressive, many-moods voice can make innocent bystanders stop in their tracks and bring grown men to tears. I have seen the statue-making, and I have been the misty-eyed. For me, it was her take on Townes Van Zandt's "Flying Shoes" on Glory Fountain's The Beauty of 23, although there have been many moving moments over her career as band founder, leader and member. Also on the bill is the virtuosic Tim Sparks, whose guitar work has the same effect as Blakey's vocals, and Chapel Hill singer/ songwriter Tim Carless, who could no doubt offer up his own persuasively atmospheric version of "Flying Shoes." At NIGHTLIGHT. 9:30 p.m. (You can also catch Blakey at the Pittsboro General Store Caf on April 9.)


Todd Snider
  • Todd Snider

From: East Nashville, Tenn., by way of the Pacific Northwest
Since: 1994
Claim to fame: Being the thinking person's roots-rock wiseass

Todd Snider's easygoing but deceptively deep songs can make the dour chuckle and recruit the reluctant. I have heard the laughter, and I have been the converted. For me, the tipping point was witnessing Snider, a folk-rocking soapbox preacher, welcome the crowd into the palm of his hand at the inaugural Mucklewain Festival courtesy of "The Ballad of the Kingsmen." His East Nashville Skyline has been scripture ever since, and with each new recording Snider continues to strengthen his reputation as a combo of John Prine and Kris Kristofferson for the alt-country generation—with a thumbs-up from both those gentleman. Chatham County Line's Dave Wilson opens. $20/ 9 p.m. At THE ARTSCENTER. —Rick Cornell

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