This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: Rebuilding Raleigh Benefit, Josh Turner, Thad Cockrell, The Beggars, Colossus, Caltrop, Black Skies, Us Christmas, Royal Thunder, The Love Language, The Old Ceremony, Jews & Catholics, The Donkeys, Titus Andronicus, Okkervil River, Future Islands
VS.: Matthew Mayfield vs. Lana Rebel vs. Lovers
RETURNING: Josh & Turner Jam
05.26 REBUILDING RALEIGH BENEFIT @ THE POUR HOUSE
The spate of Raleigh tornado relief benefits thankfully continues to fill slots on local rock club cards; out of who's-free necessity and neighborly spirit, these shows persist as mixed bags of genres and demographics, where acoustic or alternative rock sits charitably alongside hair or heavy metal. This five-band bill is no different, with the appropriately adverbial Stella Lively taking the leadoff slot and the Guns 'N Roses cover monsters Appetite for Destruction headlining. Two bands in the middle, The Last Tallboy and Once & Future Kings, both push forward from Radiohead's coruscated malingering, though Tallboy does it with a little more instrumental muscle. The definite highlight and must-see new blood is Bitter Resolve, the sort of red-eyed and stormy stoner rock army that suits former Spinn and current Dirty Little Heater Rob Walsh just fine. $8/ 8 p.m. —Grayson Currin
05.26 JOSH TURNER, THAD COCKRELL @ DPAC
Opener Thad Cockrell is a two-time Triangle expatriate who now lives back in Nashville, where he pens songs for bigger names and occasionally contributes to their records. That's a small shame, as Cockrell's voice—a warm, tender coo that's graced with an unfailing feeling of honesty—is a magnificent thing deserving of big stages. At least tonight it'll have its turn, opening for bona fide star Josh Turner. The hero (and last week, surprise collaborator) of Garner's Scotty McCreery, Turner is a country singer in the mold of Randy Travis—a baritone romantic with a sense of humor and a good ear for indelible melodies. Tonight's bill offers a nice pairing of an alt-country darling and a modern country star worth his salt as a singer. $32/ 7:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin
05.26 THE BEGGARS, COLOSSUS @ CASBAH
The Casbah has a ready-made fist-pumping-and-beer-chugging good time here: Detroit's Beggars make potent cock rock. Tenacious Keith Moon-style drumming meets chugging AC/DC riffs and hilarious narratives delivered with hair-metal abandon. Silky-smooth sax lines occasionally pop in, bringing a kiss of E Street to this Rock City party. Raleigh's Colossus delivers similar kicks with their ridiculous metal excess. Tangled riffs race like dueling, lightning-powered roller coasters, as piercing howls detail mythological conquests of the most entertaining variety. Wilmington's White Tiger & The Bed of Roses also play. $10/ 9 p.m. —Jordan Lawrence
- Photo courtesy of the band
- Royal Thunder
05.27 CALTROP, BLACK SKIES, US CHRISTMAS, ROYAL THUNDER @ KINGS
This four-band set is only a sample of Southern metal's breadth, but it's still plenty impressive: As the name might presage, Chapel Hill trio Black Skies are the most Black Sabbath-oriented, blasting thick but nimble grooves and riffs through a glowing, distorted haze. US Christmas is the other stylistic bookend; this Western North Carolina band—at best when its membership breaks the half-dozen mark, with two drummers and bulging keyboard lines—sculpts marathons from the space-rock growl of Hawkwind and the stentorian march of Swans, all anchored by backwoods iconography. Atlanta's Royal Thunder and Chapel Hill's Caltrop add soul to metal in radically divergent ways: Caltrop does so with blistering, blues-moan guitar leads that cut through a menacing rhythmic crew, while Royal Thunder puts the Janis-meets-Mavis vocals of MIny Parsonz out in front of an unpredictable power trio. $7–$9/ 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin
05.27 THE LOVE LANGUAGE, THE OLD CEREMONY @ HAW RIVER BALLROOM
The Haw River Ballroom is only the latest iteration of artistic vision from Heather and Tom LaGarde, Saxapahaw residents turning their small Alamance County community into a Triangle artistic outpost through willpower and work. Built in the dye room of the town's old Cotton Mill, and with a unique sound system built into the room's dye and dryer tanks, the ballroom looks to be a break from the typical rock club model both in terms of talent and presentation. Tonight, for instance, they'll combine three of the area's most popular acts, only two of which are bands. The Love Language and The Old Ceremony will provide their familiar choruses, while Paperhand Puppet Intervention provides the, you know, puppets. $15–$17/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin
05.28 JEWS & CATHOLICS @ THE PINHOOK
Jews and Catholics have always come to a reasonably recognizable place in a counterintuitive way. The music, which plays like mid-'80s new wave looking ahead to shoegaze and post-punk, has been delivered for six years now by guitar and a stand-up bass duo with a drum machine. And there was nothing wrong with that—the drum machine pulled its weight most of the time. Tonight is the Triangle debut of the band with live drummer Tyler Reeder; the addition is an exciting prospect that might finally give guitarist Eddie Garcia his license to shred. It will be nice for the pulse of this Winston-Salem band to have, well, a pulse. With Tina Sparkle and Adam Thorn. $5/ 10 p.m. —Corbie Hill
- Photo courtesy of the band
- The Donkeys
05.30 THE DONKEYS @ KINGS
If you're familiar with the TV series Lost, then you may know of Geronimo Jackson, an imaginary early '70s psychedelic folk act with a Grateful Dead-like backstory. That mythic band's music was actually by The Donkeys, a SoCal quartet whose laid-back twang sounded like it wafted out of Laurel Canyon on weed smoke. It was pleasant, but the band's latest, Born With Stripes, is the quintessential step forward into hypnotic Loaded-era VU repetition, Easybeats garage and Buffalo Springfield psychedelia, augmented by strains of Pavement, Beck and Black Keys white-boy blues. It's a cohesive, era-spanning listen, and one that should translate well to the stage. With Young Volcanos. $6–$8/ 9:30 p.m. —John Schacht
06.01 TITUS ANDRONICUS, OKKERVIL RIVER, FUTURE ISLANDS @ CAT'S CRADLE
One bill seems too small for these three bandleaders: Sam Herring of Future Islands, Patrick Stickles of Titus Andronicus and Will Sheff of Okkervil River are three of the most emphatic frontfolks in indie rock today. The music they make is wildly different, from Future Islands' throbbing disco sadness and Titus' clenched-fist, high-howl electric epics to Okkervil's erudite and earnest chamber folk orchestrations. But each band plays with absolute belief, as if they're the first band to sing, to preach and to translate what it means to have a busted heart or to be a confused kid falling in love with a hometown that once felt like hell. $16–$18/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin
THURSDAY, MAY 26
MATTHEW MAYFIELDFrom: Birmingham, Ala.
Since: Early '00s
Claim to fame: Former frontman of major-label modern rockers Moses Mayfield
Since going solo a few years ago after Moses Mayfield's implosion, Matthew Mayfield's been making spare and generally acoustic folk propelled by his gruff, resonant baritone. The music has a stark, emptied tone that—combined with Mayfield's weary vocals—invokes a Western ghost town. The prolific singer/songwriter released seven EPs in three years before making his full-length debut last month with Now You're Free, where his yearning ache mixes with some electric guitar and modestly richer production. His somber mood and supple, understated playing strike a dramatic pose that mostly feels earnest, but at times (over)reaches for modern-rock poignancy that suggests Staind. With Nick White. At LOCAL 506. $8/ 9:30 p.m.
From: Portland, Ore.
Since: Late '90s
Claim to fame: Ex-bassist of noisy math-metal instrumentalist Last of the Juanitas
You'd never guess Lana Rebel's thundering past with Last of the Juanitas from the stripped country she plays now. For a former rocker, Rebel's a surprisingly evocative writer, capable of stirring descriptions ("I walk streets paved by corruption/ I live in a world of deceit/ Where my love's for sale and my judgement fails/ And the innocent fall beneath my feet," she muses) while her tender alto recalls the parched work of June Carter and Loretta Lynn. She's released a couple albums now, the most recent backed by her band the Broken Promises and titled Mistakes We Can Live With. Her best songs linger like guilt, seeping into the cracks of your soul and propelling her past Mayfield's less weighty presence. With Natural Science, Nightingale News, Eddie Taylor. At KINGS. $5/ 9:30 p.m.
From: Athens, Ga., via Portland, Ore.
Since: Late '90s
Claim to fame: Pretty, heart-on-its-sleeve textured pop
Lovers auteur Carolyn Berk sings with an intimate urgency, as though her bedroom romps are on the verge of becoming a quarrel. Across eight albums she's employed different musicians and instrumentation, but the taut cinematic beauty and florid confessional heartbreak remain the same. The emotional intensity of her songs recalls Bright Eyes recast as a chamber pop outfit, with gauzy production courtesy of Blonde Redhead. As such, the vocals come swaddled in baroque texture and warmth. It could easily come off as overwrought, but Berk has the kind of delicate, knowing delivery capable of mining melancholy without sucking you into a pit of despair. Though Rebel's more reserved approach poses a challenge, Berk's Lovers outlast her with elegant finesse. With The Moaners. At THE PINHOOK. $6–$8/ 9 p.m. —Chris Parker
05.26 JOSH & TURNER JAM @ BERKELEY CAFE
“Turner and I made a commercial for [the jam] years ago, and we said, ‘You could take a crap in a plastic bag and wave it around onstage. We don’t really care what you do,’” remembers pied piper Josh Preslar. For nine years, that logic drew musicians, comedians, poets and the like to the Berkeley to show their stuff. The tag team of Preslar and Turner Brandon, both professional musicians with ties to the area, coaxed people onstage and into the crowd, so much so that, during the variety show’s heyday between 2004 and 2006, several hundred people sometimes showed.
“At that point, it was just ridiculously packed,” he says. “The bar room was packed, the band room was packed, the back porch was packed. You’d go into the parking lot and there’d be people playing hacky sack.” That energy ran its course, and the guys took a break to focus on other projects. But just over a year since packing it up, the jam is back—albeit on a monthly schedule. See berkeleycafe.net for more information. —Ashley Melzer