The Postal Service
To date, Give Up is the only album by The Postal Service, the duo of sweet-voiced singer Ben Gibbard and saccharine-touch producer Jimmy Tamborello. But their limited output belies an enormous influence: Give Up served as something of a sea change moment for the infiltration of near-mainstream audiences with the broadening spectrum of what's called indie rock. To wit, The Postal Service's popularity presaged the ascension of Death Cab for Cutie, Gibbard's long-running flagship, to a major label and amphitheater status. Sure, there were records before and after Give Up that seemed to push the cool kids into pop culture, but those 10 songs felt then like an earnest and innocent invitation to sing along.
Indeed, a decade ago, The Postal Service was just a humble side project of two guys who'd had fun working together on a track for Tamborello's main concern, the glitch-and-hum electronic act Dntel. Such an easygoing and sincere esprit defines Give Up, a winning string of chirpy synthesizers, wide-eyed crescendos and comedowns, and sad-eyed romanticism. At the time, it felt like refreshing redemption for pop music, hanging its irrepressible hooks less for Billboard status than for sheer enjoyment. "I'll write you a song and it won't be hard to sing," Gibbard offered at the end. "It will be a natural anthem—familiar it will seem." Somehow, each of those songs seemed written only for you.
For this 10th anniversary tour, Tamborello and Gibbard reunite with Jenny Lewis, the former Rilo Kiley frontwoman who offered backup on The Postal Service's short tour a decade ago. Apparently, they're dancing a lot onstage, as they should be. With Ra Ra Riot. Friday, June 7, at Walnut Creek (NOTE: This show has been moved from Red Hat Amphitheater.) $34–$57.85/7:30 p.m.
During the last three decades, New Zealand's The Bats have taken several extended breaks, playing a few shows and tending to other concerns besides making new records. But every time they come back, The Bats deliver the same tension-imbued jangle that's made them so vital and endearing for such a long run. Their songs seem at once breezy and bothered, as though either danger or fulfillment always awaits at the other side of the next incandescent chorus. They'll split the bill with another guy who has found a way to make his music last, Superchunk's Mac McCaughan. Friday, June 7, at Local 506. $12/9 p.m.
Abandon is the proper debut LP from young New York noise metallurgist Pharmakon, or Margaret Chardiet. To be honest, neither her tones nor her technique are that novel, as she lifts liberally from the toolkits of damage-doers such as Throbbing Gristle, Mouthus and Prurient. But Chardiet's sense of development is her secret wonder. Drums steadily double and triple, and simple sounds mount until they become visceral body shocks. Abandon combines the mind-scramble of noise with the power of techno and, in the process, exposes Chardiet as one of the experimental realm's most exciting new recruits. With Lust for Youth, Body of Light and several others. Saturday, June 8, at Nightlight. 9 p.m.
Head On Management & Booking
In the last two years, Head On Management & Booking—a new company founded by longtime musician Phil Venable—has tapped and gathered the wealth of Triangle musicians, both upstart and somewhat legendary. See this embarrassing showcase of riches, the company's first, for proof: The hell-raising Salt to Bitters headline, while the country-rock of Michael Rank & Stag, the bristling energy of Wood Ear and the wonderfully broken folk of New Town Drunks shape only a sample of a fantastic undercard. Former Squirrel Nut Zipper Tom Maxwell and holstered Two Dollar Pistol John Howie Jr. also play solo sets. The bands also serve as the score for the 20th wedding anniversary of Station owners Mike & Christy Benson. Saturday, June 8, at The Station. Free/5 p.m.
Ivan & Alyosha
The blustering and tender folk-rock of Seattle's Ivan & Alyosha links well with the more popular sounds of Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers—the guitars and the drums build in waves, while the choruses crest into overwhelming washes. But the songs on All the Times We Had, their strong debut LP for Dualtone Records, betray the four years the band spent touring and making a string of EPs and singles before settling into the studio for a proper debut. They're smart and subtle, with considered textures that wrap around the more strident and obvious exclamations, the lace surrounding the leather. The record's lead single, "Running for Cover," even recalls the finesse of The National's Alligator, fostering tension until an escape route appears. With Caleb and Sylvan Esso. Friday, June 7, at Kings. $10/9 p.m.
Based in Lenoir, N.C., the Queer Oriented Rock/Rap Day School gathers LGBT children and kids of LGBT families together for a week of learning not only how to make music but also how to appreciate the perspective their art can bring to the world. This benefit for Q.O.R.D.S. starts with the beautiful, twinkling folk of Humble Tripe before turning into a dance party keyed by TripKnight, a multimedia posse that mixes live instruments and ingenious samples. Also, DJ Berdgherl. Friday, June 7, at The Pinhook. $6–$10/10 p.m.
For the better part of a decade, Nashville's Jeffrey Novak has led the sweaty, snotty Cheap Time, an ever-changing outfit that surges and grinds through the punk rock belligerence of The Buzzcocks no matter the lineup. Lascivious and loud, volatile and vitriolic, Cheap Time are apostles of attitude, as likely to tell you to fuck off as to check the merch table on your way home. (And if you do, last year's Wallpaper Music on In the Red is anything but what its title suggests.) With Black Zinfandel and Drag Sounds. Thursday, June 6, at Kings. $6–$8/9:30 p.m.
The duo Pressed And uses falsetto vocals, smeared samples and cascading rhythms to create swirling electronic collages that build like dubstep, shimmer like electropop and propel like a favorite mixtape. Splitting the difference between Prefuse 73's puzzle-like pieces and Ratatat's hook-driven anthems, Pressed And animates its electronics with a dose of soul, giving the machines something to live for. With New Madrid, Turchi and It Is Rain in My Face. Thursday, June 6, at The Pinhook. $7/9 p.m.
Daniel Romano and the Trilliums
Daniel Romano used to be in a punk rock band, but these days he makes heart-on-his-Stetson country music that recalls Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. Strings swell, steel guitars sigh and fiddle cries beneath his bulbous voice, which conveys the hurt of leaving with the assuredness of someone who's been through it enough to be accustomed. "There's nothing ironic about what I'm doing," the Canadian troubadour recently said of his stylistic swivel. "It's just me." Michael Rank & Stag, another act wrapped in a sordid love triangle with both rock and country, shares the bill. Wednesday, June 12, at The Pour House. $6–$8/9 p.m.
Hammer No More the Fingers
The beginning of "Kaplox," the new single by Hammer No More the Fingers, might catch you by surprise: With backmasked vocals and scrambled guitar signals, the track sounds more like a strange No Neck Blues Band quake than the fetching indie rock on which the Durham band made its reputation. Soon enough, though, the trio springs into their familiar italicized crunch, with sharpened guitars and a hook that digs deep on first pass. Less active than they used to be, Hammer No More the Fingers still delivers guitar-bass-drums indie rock with enviable verve. With First Person Plural and Yandrew. Saturday, June 8, at Kings. $6/9:30 p.m.
Former Chapel Hill resident Darwin Smith moved to New York and launched Darwin Deez, a light dance-pop outfit that debuted in 2010 with a well-received batch of flimsy funk-rock. Smith has since relocated to Asheville, from which he released Songs for Imaginative People in February. These songs suggest that Smith—who has added decidedly more aggressive guitar to his once-lithe numbers—is hiding from his feelings, dressing up genuinely interesting introspection in gimmicks of silly videos and ham-fisted hooks. With Crushed Out and Body Games. Thursday, June 6, at Local 506. $8–$10/9:30 p.m.
Nora Jane Struthers
Nashville singer Nora Jane Struthers pursued music full-time after attending several fiddlers' conventions, a fact she brandishes as a credential of authenticity in her biography. But with her band of surrounding gentlemen, The Party Line, Struthers makes milquetoast Americana, buffed clear of the thorns and thistles one might expect from a young bandleader inspired by such old-time traditions. Her latest, Carnival, offers a collection of romantic stories about youth and maturity; they are pleasant and polite, less lived-in than read from a collection of short stories. Friday, June 7, at The ArtsCenter. $10–$14/8 p.m.