REBIRTH BRASS BAND
The Rebirth Brass Band were always poised as potential ambassadors following a disaster in New Orleans: Since the early '80s, the aptly named act has not only preserved its city's horns-and-heavy-drums tradition, they've also emboldened it by augmenting its funk core and adding lithe, shout-along melodies of their own creation. They've learned the old ways, then, and made them personal and vital.
That's the approach they've taken in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, too, branching beyond their longtime Tuesday night residency in the city to lead traditional second-line parades—"a moving block party," as Rebirth co-founder Phil Frazier has said. In 2010, Frazier explained the impetus for Rebirth's participation simply but poignantly to NPR. "It's a dying art," he said, "so we kept it alive." Indeed, only last year, their sweltering and urgent Rebirth of New Orleans took the Grammy for Best Regional Roots Music Album back to Crescent City, a testament to the crew's commitment to the past, present and future of the place they again call home. FRIDAY, MARCH 8, AT THE ARTSCENTER. $14–$22/8 p.m.
The repertoire of excellent Chicago record label Trouble in Mind exists in a bubble of sundry substances: They've issued uppers-addled garage rock and weed-blanketed pastoral folk, acid-blasted rock and pocket-of-pills bummers. Cabinet of Curiosities, the debut full-length from Dutch multi-instrumentalist Jacco Gardner, pilfers the whole pharmaceutical pantry, sampling at will. Like Syd Barrett reborn in a hi-fi, hi-def world of singing trees and smiling lilies, Gardner offers bittersweet tunes over luxurious swells of sound. As the bass lines rub the temples, the keys twinkle and the guitars drift, the momentum guided by patient drums and Gardner's multi-tracked harmonies. He recorded these songs by himself, so it'll be a thrill to see if these dream states pass muster live. With Schooner. THURSDAY, MARCH 7, AT THE PINHOOK. $8–$10/9 p.m.
New Hampshire four-piece Vattnet Viskar is headed to Texas, where their bleak and bellicose black metal should be one of the most buzzed-about heavy offerings at this year's South by Southwest. After all, following the released of their debut EP last year, they earned rave reviews and signed to metal titan Century Media. So, why all the attention? Vattnet Viskar takes the grandiosity that's become a hallmark of stateside black metal and reduces it with hardcore efficiency. That is, they cover the same majestic expanses as Wolves in the Throne Room but with a compositional economy that acknowledges that you have someplace else to be, and that they have somewhere else to take you. With Hansgraf. THURSDAY, MARCH 7, AT SLIM'S. $5/9 p.m.
With only four members, Calgary's Braids dissipate the very wide lines between pop music and post-rock, jam bands and electronic experimenters. Raphaelle Standell-Preston is at the quartet's fore, her flexible voice arching out in great siren calls or tucking into miniature murmurs. But she seems to lead Braids less than participate in its very involved songs, which tend to treat rhythm, melody and momentum like the equal-opportunity building blocks of post-everything anthems. Braids' music is at once immersive and propulsive, turning a barrage of complicated motion into a feeling of complete comfort. With Snowmine, Moon King and Empress Of. THURSDAY, MARCH 7, AT LOCAL 506. $8–$10/8 p.m.
DUCKTAILS, ALEX BLEEKER & THE FREAKS
Both the soft-voiced Alex Bleeker and the increasingly ambitious Matt Mondanile are members of Real Estate. The mothership's diffident jangle shows up in Bleeker's Freaks and Mondanile's Ducktails, but to two different ends. While The Freaks approach cosmic country rock that lands somewhere between the totems of J Mascis and Gram Parsons, Ducktails' new The Flower Lane employs a cadre of special guests to somehow push the stoned shuffle you might expect toward the dance floor. It's not always successful, but it's at least consistently charming to hear what used to be Mondanile's strange shape-shifting bedroom recordings set bigger aims. With Chris Cohen and Weyes Blood. THURSDAY, MARCH 7, AT KINGS. $10/9 p.m.
THE DEAD TONGUES, SCHOONER
Under the name The Dead Tongues, Durham songwriter Ryan Gustafson recently released Desert, his second wonderful album of ambling melancholy. Gustafson's music is best tagged as country-rock, but that implies a polish he decidedly forgoes, as his murmur only barely creaks past the fuzzed electrics, restless acoustics and seemingly casual rhythms. Schooner opens in advance of releasing their own new LP, the intriguing and guest-loaded Neighborhood Veins. FRIDAY, MARCH 8, AT KINGS. $6/9:30 p.m.
ANDRÉ OBIN, THE WHITE CASCADE
Both the venue and local headliners The White Cascade have labeled this four-band bill "Shoegaze Spotlight," but don't arrive expecting only mopes with more effects pedals than skills. Boston producer André Obin drops vigorous beats into his walls of sound, inspiring euphoria to lift eyes from the floor. One of his two tourmates, co-ed duo Stereo Telescope, sings sad-eyed songs over effervescent dance numbers. This spotlight has quite the circumference. Also, AVOXBLUE. FRIDAY, MARCH 8, AT DEEP SOUTH THE BAR. $5/9 p.m.
By name alone, The Backsliders' recent flurry of activity computes: With the soul of a poet, the spirit of a motley crew of rebellious teenagers and the skill of one of the sharpest and most dynamic alt-country bands you'll ever experience, The Backsliders make music for trying to get your life together—even if you're not necessarily capable of doing it. Enjoy the rock 'n' roll relapse. With John Howie Jr. & The Rosewood Bluff and STAG. FRIDAY, MARCH 8, AT CAT'S CRADLE. $10/9 p.m.
Monster Study, the new eight-song LP from Durham's Effingham, boasts tunes about heartbreak and proletariat solidarity, mass murder and ideological upheaval. The songs themselves swivel from gentle ballads to bracing rock. But they're all united by frontman Jeremy Blair's deftness with hooks, delivered uniformly with his worried rasp. With Melissa Swingle, The Glorious Veins and Magnolia Collective. SATURDAY, MARCH 9, AT MOTORCO. $6–$8/9 p.m.
Philadelphia's Grandchildren make sugar-rush pop music, backing their sharp melodies and thick harmonies with blanketing textures and fireworks-in-the-sky dynamics. Clear progeny of the Animal Collective approach to motion and momentum, Grandchildren seem to throw every idea at a song and then whittle the mass down into bits that are more manageable. Oulipo share the bill and a similarly hyperactive approach to anthem erection. Ghostt Bllonde opens. SATURDAY, MARCH 9, AT KINGS. $6/9:30 p.m.
For a quarter-century now, Charleston quartet Blue Dogs have mixed frenetic bluegrass, heartfelt country and earnest rock. But where bands like The Avett Brothers have turned a similar mix into a movement, Blue Dogs haven't really transcended the same old regional circuit. Spend a moment with their songs, and you'll know why; awkward in their zeal and unbridled in their avuncular nature, Blue Dogs make rock concerts intended for children seem edgy and nuanced. With Amanda Platt and Old Avenue. FRIDAY, MARCH 8, AT BERKELEY CAFE. $15/9 p.m.
THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM
New Jersey's The Gaslight Anthem makes music that's big on the prospects of self-liberation and self-fulfillment. As you might expect from Springsteen-blessed Jersey dudes, they sing about overcoming obstacles and being bigger than your surroundings. That said, why do they seem so predictable and conservative, as though they've digested every punk and rock manifesto only to regurgitate them in spirit and sound? Doesn't that dumb down and maybe even defeat the shout-out-loud purpose? SATURDAY, MARCH 9, AT LINCOLN THEATRE. SOLD OUT/9 p.m.