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The guide to the week's concerts


This week's guide contains:

YES, PLEASE: Hoots & Hellmouth, The Felice Brothers, Black Skies, Cough, Resister, 12,000 Armies, The Light Pines, Future Islands, Lonnie Walker, Motor Skills, Soft Company, Bear Hands, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Hog, Mortals, Wizardry

VS.: Shearwater vs. Wolf Parade

VS.: Robert Earl Keen vs. Ponderosa




Giving the old-time string-band format a kick in the teeth, Philadelphia's Hoots & Hellmouth have been singing and stomping their way across America since 2005. From the beginning, the band's coupled punk histrionics, folk arrangements and three-part harmonies into a signature roots primacy. Indeed, it's their rowdy live shows that have kept audiences captivated. These boys may tote mandolins, guitars and upright basses, but it's all manner of acoustic bedlam and country jubilee once they get up there. Barefoot Truth, hailing from the far reaches of Connecticut, opens the show with their reggae- and jazz-influenced folk-pop. $10/ 8 p.m. —Ashley Melzer


Many bands sound like they wish they were born 70 or 80 years ago. The Felice Brothers, from the wilds of New York, might actually have been born 70 or 80 years ago and then somehow landed in 2010, youthful and unplugged. But the bros are fine with that; they've adapted. Sure, they miss the overlapping joys of bootlegging, medicine shows and the revival-tent circuit. But hip-hop's cool and so is YouTube. The result is folk-rock that's unstuck in time, with a little gospel and punk string band at the edges, all with energy to burn. Two Gallants guy Adam Haworth Stephens, a bit of a time traveler himself, opens. $13–$15/ 10 p.m. —Rick Cornell


This month, Black Skies heads to Athens to record with Kyle Spence of Harvey Milk. Maybe he can capture the Chapel Hill proto-metal trio's energy better than 2008's Hexagon. Though the band plays hard and fast, the EP somehow lacks energy, which was a bit of a shock upon release. The Skies take a heavy stoner riff obsession and jam it into fifth gear live. Think Om sped up, pissed off and way less meditative. Considering his pedigree—and the fantastic production he did with the Charlotte band GRIDs this year—Spence may be the guy to capture a Black Skies record worthy of the band's five years together. With Cough and Resister. 9:30 p.m. —Corbie Hill


Troika might be in full swing in Durham, but, between Future Islands in Chapel Hill and this rock party in Raleigh, they surrendered some of the best locals this year. The Light Pines are the most audacious band yet to come from the sprawling collective Drughorse; rather than lock in languidly to the melodies of the past, like Max Indian or The Love Language, the bass-heavy band lashes songs that suggest Slint starting a pop group. It's cool but foreboding, like a cinematic walk in an alley. Affirming the usual Drughorse aesthetic (a fine thing to do, for what it's worth), 12,000 Armies jangle and jerk through songs that walk fine lines between lamentation and celebration, between bleary eyes and bright ones. With Nudehues. $5/ 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin


These three bands played Local 506 together last August, but lately each has evolved at such a clip that you should catch the reprise even if you danced yourself drunk at the original. Motor Skills has pushed beyond its rap gags and one indie rock anthem to build a library of haunted and delightful tremors as a quartet. This is a release party of sorts for a new, excellent 7" split between Future Islands and Lonnie Walker. On its side, Future Islands explores big billows of bass and the pained soul possible in frontman Sam Herring's voice; on the flip, Lonnie Walker frontman Brian Corum once again tries to write a love song (the same process that yielded the terrific "Feels Like Right") and turns in one of his band's best, most inspired tunes to date. $7–$9/ 10:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin


Raleigh's Soft Company finds The Love Language keyboardist Missy Thangs with a batch of strong pop hooks at her disposal, as well as a crew of local gents who've previously helped sharpen the barbs of the Huguenots, Luego, Lake Inferior and Violet Vector and the Lovely Lovelies. The harmony-loaded and jangle-filled results are effervescent paeans to lost love. Making its Triangle debut, opener Bear Hands is truly deserving of its slow-building buzz: Often suggesting Modest Mouse on an energy-drink rush, the Brooklyn quartet fashions a melodic, accessible blend of post-punk and indie rock from angular guitars, stuttering disco beats and yelped vocals. $7/ 10 p.m. —Spencer Griffith


Formed in 1939, gospel music icons the Blind Boys of Alabama have been around so long that even septuagenarian, and veteran member, Jimmy Carter has barely experienced it all. Along the way, the Blind Boys have collaborated with a broad array of secular pop artists and held a four-year stranglehold on the traditional gospel Grammy, all thanks to rich, spirit-fed harmonies that are unmatched in the secular realm. A living legend in his own right, Durham bluesman John Dee Holeman soothes the soul with pipes and relaxed fingerpicking that mines both the Delta and Piedmont traditions. $27.50/ 8 p.m. —Spencer Griffith


A quartet since adding guitarist Alec Ferrell, Durham's HOG earns this headlining slot not only by proximity—they're the locals aiming to draw a crowd for Brooklyn metal bros—but by virtue of their might. The Bull City foursome's metal is born of an encyclopedic understanding of the genre. They riff heavy like Electric Wizard but add the prog-laced sludge of Mastodon and the straight-ahead trajectory of High on Fire. This band simply slays. Wizardry—not unlike old-school resurrectionists Early Man—nod to Maiden and Priest with galloping riffs and soaring, melodic vocals. Mortals take a similar route but let their guitar solos veer like bottle rockets from a wide pipe. 10 p.m.—Bryan Reed



From: Austin, Texas
Since: 1999
Claim to fame: Okkervil River's leftover repository becomes main course

Once upon a time, Shearwater was just a place where the less Okkervil-like songs written by Will Sheff and Jonathan Meiberg would be released into the wild. Gradually, over the course of four albums, what began as a collaborative venture turned into Meiberg's main creative outlet. By the time 2008's Rook hit, Meiberg had officially cut ties with Okkervil River, and any notion that Shearwater was a side project were quickly dispatched. Meiberg's fluttering croon is a perfect match for Shearwater's more fragile and meditative moments, but the band's reputation is made on tracks like Rook's "The Snow Leopard" and "Castaways" (off this year's The Golden Archipelago). With the music surging and swelling like a spot-on approximation of the otherworldly grandeur of Laughing Stock-era Talk Talk, Meiberg unleashes a righteous holler that is both awesome and humbling. It elevates Shearwater above their contemporaries. Prolific indie-folkster Damien Jurado opens. At LOCAL 506. $10–$12/ 9:30 p.m.



From: Montreal
Since: 2003
Claim to fame: Co-founders keeping their idle hands very busy

When Wolf Parade first formed, Spencer Krug was a few weeks removed from leaving off-kilter dramatists Frog Eyes, while Dan Boeckner has just added "formerly of Atlas Strategic" to his résumé. Seven years later—five since Modest Mouse's Isaac Brock signed Wolf Parade to Sub Pop during his A&R stint with the label—and now both Krug and Boeckner are known as much for their other bands (Sunset Rubdown and Handsome Furs, respectively) as they are for their collaborations. In some ways, this year's Expo '86 sounds like the sort of outing that Krug and Boeckner threw together as a respite from their day jobs, instead of it being their main concern. The album re-engineers what made Broken Social Scene and The Arcade Fire worth a damn, but it struggles for its own identity. Still, on a night when they're the only show in town, you can do much worse. On a night where they're going up against Shearwater, though, the quiet band in Chapel Hill wins by a knockout. With Ogre You Asshole. At LINCOLN THEATRE. $18–$20/ 9 p.m. —David Raposa



From: Kerrville, Texas
Since: 1984
Claim to fame: Country songwriter stays in the red dirt

Born in Houston, Robert Earl Keen graces his storytelling with plenty of acoustic guitar and understated accents, though he's still capable of cranking out a rowdy toe-tapper or two. This versatile duality serves the songwriter well. With an obvious twang, the Texan's ragged pipes tell heroic outlaw tales over Red Dirt-flavored country rock, but his straining voice gets relief with full-on crowd participation when recounting poignant moments on soft-edged folk ballads. Fellow Texan acts the Randy Rogers Band and Reckless Kelly—the former, purveyors of glossy, new Nashvillian country, the latter, pushers of honky-tonkin' alt-country—join Keen. At LINCOLN THEATRE. $24–$27/ 8 p.m.



From: Atlanta
Since: 2007
Claim to fame: Pop singer goes Southern rock

Born from sessions for frontman Kalen Nash's solo pop project, Ponderosa amps up Nash's catchy songcraft with a hefty helping of raw, Southern-flavored garage rock but are still capable of toning it down for a soulful ballad or two. This versatile duality serves the songwriter well: With just a slight twang, Nash's polished, honeyed pipes take center stage on the casual, acoustic-based portion of Ponderosa's catalog, but he runs ragged like a man possessed over the quartet's boot-stomping, roadhouse-friendly repertoire. Dallas quintet Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights are similarly minded, serving up muscular Southern rock reminiscent of latter-day Black Crowes. At THE POUR HOUSE. $6-$8/ 8:30 p.m. —Spencer Griffith

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