Birds of Avalon
Eight months into 2013, this three-band bill stands as one of the best convocations of local acts this year: It's a rare appearance for , whose members are busy running the Raleigh cultural center of Kings, The Garland and Neptune's. But they've been working on a follow-up to their 2011 self-titled LP with Mitch Easter, and they've added former Love Language and Toddlers keyboardist Missy Thangs for, at the least, a string of upcoming dates. The Lollipops, who take the middle slot here, are also at work on their full-band full-length debut; frontman Iggy Cosky's world-addled songs bounce freely in spite or because of the worries in his head, and the quartet behind him adds necessary muscle to his wiry mental notes. They'll follow Sylvan Esso, the duo of Megafaun's Nick Sanborn and Mountain Man's Amelia Meath. Their recent two-song debut spins fetching vocal refrains into wonderfully whimsical dance tunes, making them one of the most promising new Triangle acts to land in the last few years. Come to think of it, that is or has been true for every band on this bill.
Brooklyn jazz contortionists Father Figures follow this packed slate with their own late-night revelry. Sunday, Aug. 18, at The Cave. $8/9 p.m.
Corrosion of Conformity
Natural disasters, membership changes, album reunions, lineup rivalries, hardcore upstarts, major labels, Southern rock, Southern Lord, comeback albums, crossover success: The story of Corrosion of Conformity—one of North Carolina's greatest and longest-running institutions—is also a great tale of rock 'n' roll, as it hinges not only on internal conflicts but also 30 years of a vastly changing music industry. After a short regional tour, which starts here at home, COC's aged-but-aggressive original trio will add another paragraph to its plot with a debut South American trek, where they'll play five countries in only a week. Last year's self-titled album served almost as a compendium to the stylistic Twister they've always played, roving restlessly between hardcore heft, psychedelic projection and classic metal bravura. With Drill and Caltrop. Friday, Aug. 16, at The Pour House. $15/9:30 p.m.
Downfall of Gaia
Last year, German heavy metal alchemists Downfall of Gaia released their second album, Suffocating in the Swarm of Cranes. Standing alongside recent works from Wolves in the Throne Room, Vattnet Viskar, Winterfylleth and Krallice, Suffocating served as yet another compelling case for the use of black metal as the ballast for expansive and experimental rock music. Through its seven ambitious songs, Downfall of Gaia would cycle back into black metal's roiling tumbles and momentum surges, but they'd surround the heaviness with ambitious atmospherics and classical references. Think Mogwai wrestling with Immortal, or imagine music that could, in 10 minutes, not only capture the storm but also the calms that came before and after it. This isn't a new idea, but bands as convincing as Downfall of Gaia play as though they invented the concept of dynamics, and they're here to remind you. With Black Table. Monday, Aug. 19, at Slim's. $8/9 p.m.
Last year marked the 10-year anniversary of Bramble Rose, the bristling and brisk major-label debut of Triangle singer-songwriter Tift Merritt. Ever since, Merritt has worked at several shifting thresholds of the music industry—she's alternately been an alt-country belter, adult-contemporary charmer, soul-rock bandleader, indie rock chanteuse, classical crossover tinkerer. Her comfort with that live-in identity crisis has made for several uneven records and likely curbed the quick rise to fame many suspected, but it's also made Merritt a continually interesting personality capable of turning toward unlikely new muses. It's a trait that plays out best live, when she captures all those interests with a set and a smile that shows she means every musical mode. Saturday, Aug. 17, at NCMA. $11–$30/8 p.m.
Chris Hillman, Herb Pedersen
From The Flying Burrito Brothers and The Dillards to The Byrds and The Desert Rose Band, the combined résumés of Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen form their own steadfast foundation for the various country-rock movements that followed. They've been playing together in band and duo form for nearly three decades, sporadically releasing joint albums and contributing to each other's solo outings along the way. (Their new At Edwards Barn is out now.) As such, their shows carry the candor and conviviality of two old friends sitting on the porch to pick a spell. Hillman will likely tell a few stories about writing with Gram Parsons (and play "Wheels," hopefully), and both players will likely take a few solos that won't exactly leave you slack-jawed but will remind you just how long these two have been at their craft. Sunday, Aug. 18, at The ArtsCenter. $20–$28/7 p.m.
Sagan Youth Boys
Carrboro's Sagan Youth Boys push dub pulses toward space, slathering deep head-nod rhythms in synthesizer squiggles that have leaked from the Krautrock mothership. Elemental but immersive, these steady productions are narcotic but not soporific, suggesting that your eyes roll back but that you stop just short of sleep. This is the release party for a fresh Sagan Youth Boys 12-inch on the new label Tone Log, and the launch for an East Coast run with Philadelphia's slurred and mesmeric Lamb Skin. Also, Porno Jumpstart and Red Handcuffs. Thursday, Aug. 15, at Nightlight. $5–$7/9:30 p.m.
The Mourning Cloak
Greensboro's The Mourning Cloak refers to itself as a "funeral doom" act, meaning the quintet self-identifies with the slowest and most doleful of all metal acts. But on their LP No Visible Light, concussive drums and bruising riffs lead a churning mid-tempo march, more suggestive of viscous Southern metal with grand visions than an icy funereal touch. At any rate, there sound is massive and unyielding. The bleary-eyed space jams of Bitter Resolve and the agile maul of Solar Halos open, along with a reunion appearance from The Curtain of Night, a duo featuring members of both acts. Thursday, Aug. 15, at CHUg (Chapel Hill Underground). Free/10 p.m.
Heaven, Midnight Plus One
You might recognize members of New York trio Heaven from various late local acts, including The Comas and Fan-Tan. You'll likely recognize the strains of their surround-sound pop from The Jesus & Mary Chain's melodic sweetness and Spacemen 3's sonic refractions. Their debut, Telepathic Love, is a tuneful trip through arrays of tremolo, echo and delay. Midnight Plus One opens with its pinball machine of darkness, which zips from hardcore pummel to No Wave paroxysms in an instant. With Prisms. Thursday, Aug. 15, at The Pinhook. $7/9 p.m.
The voice of Brooklyn singer Julia Weldon is soft and lithe enough, maneuvering through her verses and lifting into each refrain with a winning affability. But there's a hint of toughness, too, that shades her pop-rock just past the point of quick Lilith Fair comparisons. Her tune "Meadow" is an incisive contemplation on the wounds and wonders that falling in love (and trying to stay that way) can bring. Sunday, Aug. 18, at The Pinhook. $6/8 p.m.
A Great Big Pile of Leaves
The East Coast answer to LA's Local Natives, New York's A Great Big Pile of Leaves trims the excess from baroque blog-rock (e.g., Annuals), despite their circuitous name. With sharp guitars and a rhythm section that's emphatic but nimble, A Great Big Pile hangs its hooks with disarming ease. They'll make you clap along in spite of yourself. With Sainthood Reps. Friday, Aug. 16, at Local 506. $9–$11/9 p.m.
The Eastern Sea
It's easy enough to forgive—hell, even enjoy—excess and indulgence in music. Rock 'n' roll is built on overdoing it, a feeling found in every great guitar solo. But The Eastern Sea, a large band from Austin, simply overthinks every line, meter and melody of its flatly sophisticated indie rock. The words are so painfully poetic they make Okkervil River read like street-speak; the arrangements make matters worse, with their clothes fastened so tightly they never manage to breathe. With Wool. Saturday, Aug. 17, at Local 506. $8–$10/9 p.m.
The Last Bison
If the wave of bloated folk-rock that's pushed Mumford & Sons, the Lumineers and others to fame continues, it's likely that Virginia's The Last Bison will begin to roam the radio, too. Their acoustic music blooms with rock bombast, as though a hook isn't enough until its bolstered by an array of strings, harmonies and percussion treacles. But these tunes feel thin and stretched by comparison to the bands that have come before them; their pretty parts are used to hide otherwise frail skeletons. With South Carolina Broadcasters. Tuesday, Aug. 20, at Motorco. $10–$12/8 p.m.