This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: Lou Barlow & the Missingmen, Wye Oak, Jon Lindsay, The Small Ponds, The Delta Mirror, Chatham County Line, Jill Andrews, Malarkey Gras, Run on Sentence, Tea & Tempests
VS.: The English Beat vs. Sound Tribe Sector 9
VS.: Pinche Gringo vs. The Huguenots
CELEBRATING: Ragnarok Weekend
- Lou Barlow
08.19 LOU BARLOW & THE MISSINGMEN, WYE OAK @ CAT'S CRADLE
The poet laureate of earnest, pained vulnerability cut with knowing self-deprecation, Lou Barlow may have contributed more to indie pop/rock than his more renowned SST peers. Aside from the fuzzy lo-fi of his early Sentri-/ Seba-doh home, it's Barlow's lyrical approach that's had the most lasting impact. Emo before there was a name for it, Barlow echoed the bare-wire emotionality of bedroom-bound geeks struggling with their wantonness, sidestepping '70s sentimentality with self-aware wit on tracks like "Soulmate" and "Brand New Love." After struggling with a predictable crisis of confidence, he released his best album in a decade, Goodnight Unknown, last year. You might've seen the Missingmen back Mike Watt when he opened for Barlow's bigger band, Dinosaur Jr., last year. Wye Oak's supple, dynamic indie pop also shouldn't be missed. $12/ 9:30 p.m. —Chris Parker
08.19 JON LINDSAY, THE SMALL PONDS @ TIR NA NOG
Like Zach Condon of the eclectic chamber pop band Beirut, Jon Lindsay of Charlotte looks a bit like a precocious kid—fair-faced, solemn, maybe a tad self-serious—but he arranges like a wizened master. While Condon favors international and classical flourishes, Lindsay appears to be an egalitarian pop music junkie, with shared love for Burt Bacharach and The Beatles, John Vanderslice and pop-punk. His latest, Escape From Plaza-Midwood, decorates winking lyrical recollections with broken textures that make a wonderful, unlikely whole. The Small Ponds are Caitlin Cary and Matt Douglas, local veterans who write and sing with simpatico grace. Free/ 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin
- The Delta Mirror
08.20 THE DELTA MIRROR @ LOCAL 506
The day after South by Southwest ended in March, New York Times critic Jon Pareles dismissed the niche known as chillwave—or, arguably, glo-fi and hypnagogic pop—as such: "a hedged, hipster imitation of the pop they're not brash enough to make." Los Angeles' The Delta Mirror uses many of the grainy textures and hazy blurs common in chillwave, and the band indeed shares a home, Lefse Records, with one of the microgenre's poster bands, Neon Indian. But with skittering beats, long keyboard lines and hooks that look to go star-sailing, The Delta Mirror aims for anthem status. That the band covers TV on the Radio and has been remixed by anticon Records producer Alias is telling: These songs are bound for spaces bigger than bedrooms. With Remember September. $8/ 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin
08.20 THAD COCKRELL @ AMERICAN TOBACCO
Thad Cockrell has the perfect voice for his music. His willowy tenor negotiates a tightrope, expressing strange comfort from a height few would consider safe. He sounds terribly exposed, tempting fate with evocative sincerity. The son of a preacher and brother of two more, Cockrell weaves ideas about faith, conviction and redemption, blurring the line (to the occasional chagrin of believers and nonbelievers alike) between earthly desires and the cosmic unknowable. Yet his pop-tinged country (or at times, vice versa) is fashioned with such a straightforward lack of pretense and such simple beauty that respect and admiration are the necessary byproducts. Perhaps that's an ill fit for Nashville, where sincerity's synonymous with navete, but whatever the cause, Cockrell's momentum's slowed significantly since leaving the Triangle for a second time. His latest, To Be Loved, might sound like a challenge (and perhaps it is by pop-country's narrow standards), but the music's simply a pleasure. Free/ 6 p.m. —Chris Parker
08.20 CHATHAM COUNTY LINE, JILL ANDREWS @ FLETCHER OPERA THEATER
Sunlight beams through a pine forest, backlighting flitting bugs, casting long shadows and warming the dirt. Through this yellow filter of nostalgia, bluegrass outfit Chatham County Line nurtures themes of longing. It's not the high, lonesome sound of Roscoe Holcomb, though. Round and sincere, songs find their urgency with heart instead of speed. Vocal harmonies have a melancholic, '70s folk-rock vibe. One month after releasing its best album to date, Wildwood, the quartet gathers around one microphone in one of its state's most gorgeous rooms. Jill Andrews, formerly of the everybodyfields, opens with country-tinged, acoustic meditations that slowly build and release. $21/ 8 p.m.—Andrew Ritchey
08.21 MALARKEY GRAS @ THE POUR HOUSE
The two-level, draught-loaded downtown Raleigh mainstay The Pour House built its business and reputation first on jam bands and college-rock ascendants who have, in several cases, grown into bigger rooms. Chris Malarkey has served as the club's manager and primary booking agent for the past 10 years, and he's been no small part of that legacy. He's, however, perhaps been more essential to the club's ever-expanding outward gaze. Hip-hop, heavy metal, alt-country, and hardcore punk have all found a home on Blount Street in recent years, and Malarkey's played the welcome host to all. This diverse birthday party—dubbed Malarkey Gras, as always—offers the evidence: Red Collar, a Durham quartet, plays arena-sized anthems with punk rock zeal, like The Arcade Fire kicking cans around the Lower East Side decades ago. Paleface is a wordy, raspy troubadour with traveling stories and a gnarly bravado, while Ponderosa's organ-rich Southern rock vintage feels like the Black Crowes crossing back into clubs. In tonight's headlining spot, American Aquarium gets pissed off at girls at bars and, at their most eloquent, disgruntled with the shifting weights of the world, buttressed by Springsteen-meets-Whiskeytown bombast and craft. Magic Mike does magical things. $8–$10/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin
08.22 RUN ON SENTENCE, TEA & TEMPESTS @ THE PINHOOK
As Run On Sentence, Dustin Hamman draws from a similar well as Neutral Milk Hotel's Jeff Mangum. Monstrous songs rise with multiple sections and lyrics that defy full comprehension on first listen. But Hamman also adds a propensity to explore retro, juke-joint swing that transforms sagas into carefree and mischievous jaunts. When joined by others, the Portland musician's take on folk can boil with horns and strings, but in quieter moments of reflection with guitar in hand, Hamman warbles in a quiet way. Local trio Tea & Tempests open with atmospheric and gently electric folk. 6 p.m. —Andrew Ritchey
TUESDAY, AUG. 24
THE ENGLISH BEAT
From: Los Angeles (by way of Birmingham, England)
Claim to fame: Pioneering the second wave U.K. ska movement before going new wave
The '80s trailblazers of The English Beat are more famous in the States for their last album, Special Beat Service, than their first two releases, which showcase taut, bristly and provocative 2-Tone. Slowly, their dub influence gave way to the shimmying blue-eyed new wave/ soul that underscores their third release. After the group split, singer/guitarist Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger formed soul-popsters General Public, some of whose hits Wakeling still reprises with The English Beat. Their effortlessly nostalgic blend manages to be tuneful and danceable, and could beat STS9 with three limbs tied behind their aging backs. With Chris Murray and Bad Manners. At CAT'S CRADLE. $18-$20/ 8 p.m.
WEDNESDAY, AUG. 25
SOUND TRIBE SECTOR 9
From: Athens, Ga.
Claim to fame: Watery, groove-laden, electro-addled hippy-funk
The chillwaved jam band Sound Tribe Sector 9 subsists on dreamy, mesmerizing slices of rhythmic slink slathered in jazzy funk. The quintet's sound revolves around a heavy dose of burbling synthetic shuffle, wafting through hazy, meandering melodies that linger like pungent skunkweed. There's not enough tribal thrum or skittering beat-in-a-box for dancing, so the sound is more of an evening-ending vibe that encourages you to close your eyes and loll your head from side to side. Indeed, the hypnotic bustle of their aural wallpaper is only a notch more vibrant and sophisticated than that of new age artists like Kitaro. At RALEIGH AMPHITHEATER. $20–$25/ 7 p.m. —Chris Parker
SATURDAY, AUGUST 21
PINCHE GRINGOFrom: Greensboro
Claim to fame: Ragged, rattling one-piece garage-blues
Like the infamous garage rock lords Pinche Gringo can claim as lineage, from The Mummies to The Oblivians, the brave one-man-bandleader charges a trebly boogie, with as much shake and rattle as roll. With the wry and wiry punk-flavored Wild Wild Geese and the soul-fuzz 'splosion that is Shit Horse, and D.C.'s twang-and-boogie Shortstack at the flanks, this show is a wily wild card of sucker punches and slug-it-out determination. At NIGHTLIGHT. 9:30 p.m.
THE HUGUENOTSFrom: Chapel Hill
Claim to fame: Swooning, top-buttoned four-piece mod pop
The members of The Huguenots are immediately recognizable, attired at all times in drainpipe slacks and patterned shirts with complementary ties, both on and off the stage. And their taste for vintage refinement in apparel extends to their warm, hook-heavy pop classicism. They'll bring the increasingly adventurous Americana revivalists Luego—whose Ocho marked a dramatic step forward for frontman Patrick Phelan's songcraft—for a proper tag team. Consider this the nimble and practiced opponent to Nightlight's gang of bottle-and-chain rabble-rousers. At BROAD STREET CAFE. 10 p.m. —Bryan Reed
08.20-21 RAGNAROK WEEKEND @ THE RESERVOIR
The Reservoir's Ragnarok Weekend is the culmination of several years of the Carrboro bar's uncomplicated approach to rock shows: Wes Lowder and Lyle Collins simply book bands they like. The bar supplies a minimal PA, beer and floor space, and a strong cadre of local heavy bands crowds in—six acts to a night—for two days of loud music.
"We want to be able to actually pay them for playing one night and get them nice and drunk, kind of a pat on the back for helping us out in the past," says Collins. These bands have played for free in support of touring acts, getting people in the door on weeknights. The Reservoir has lasted nearly five years in a high-rent area, a block from Cat's Cradle and a short stumble from Franklin Street. Almost illogically, the bar survives without obvious compromise while other businesses come and go.
"Ragnarok is actually the word for the Norse apocalypse, when all the gods fight each other," says Lowder. And, musically, it's hard to best that imagery: From Caltrop's inimitable sledgehammer blues to The Curtains of Night's rampaging id, from Systems' asymmetrical heavy math to In the Year of the Pig's noise rock juggernaut, the music is varied and punishing. —Corbie Hill
The shows start at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 20 and Saturday, Aug. 21. Tickets can be purchased at the bar for $10, or $15 for a two-day pass.