Contributors: Rick Cornell, Grayson Currin, Rich Ivey, Kathy Justice, Chris Parker, Chris Toenes

Thursday, January 18

The Daredevil Christopher Wright, Bickett Gallery

The Daredevil Christopher Wright happens to be three unassuming young dudes from the northern climes of the greater Midwest, and their blend of indie rock exuberance and classic rock rearing is completely disarming. Just check the coda of the brilliant opening track on their first EP: Three-part harmonies twist over and under like Queen getting high in heaven. That is, until trot-all-day drums let it all march, a Bright Eyes chug carrying buckets of sunshine to a resplendent anti-climax. These guys could trump a band like Tapes ‘n Tapes in due time. After they play The Cave on Thursday (10 p.m.) with Charlotte’s The New Familiars, they’ll spend Friday enjoying the Triangle before joining their former Eau Claire, Wis., ZIP code mates Megafaun at the Bickett Gallery. Nola’s Christy Smith opens at 9 p.m. GC

Kings of Prussia, Three Christs, MarVell Event Center

If you thought the skuzzy dynamics of spazz-core were going the way of the dodo, Asheville’s Kings of Prussia might convince otherwise. Their approximation melds in some electronic noise, too. Raleigh’s Three Christs opens. Also, Maiden tribute Up the Irons. 9 p.m. CT

Friday, January 19

Chatham County Line, Cat’s Cradle

On the ever-eroding shoreline of our life, traditional music reminds us how little time changes anything other than the backdrop, as we’re ever yoked to what Faulkner called “the eternal verities of the human heart.” Sashaying across this vista, bluegrass boys Chatham County Line grant their old-timey music a lighthearted sway or wend a mournful way, as on their latest, Speed of the Whippoorwill. But songwriter Dave Wilson finds more cause for wit than woe, and Brian Paulson’s production contributes a buoyant energy. Tonight’s show will be filmed for future release. That’s almost anachronistic. Mad Tea Party opens. $8-$10/ 9:15 p.m. CP

Paul Thorn, The ArtsCenter

As my favorite modern songwriters go, Paul Thorn doesn’t approach the top 50. But as the complete songwriter-singer-entertainer-survivor package goes, Thorn is virtually his own category. A former championship boxer, chair carpenter, National Guardsman and the son of a Southern evangelist, the Tupelo, Miss.-born Thorn has taken swings from life and walked away with a voice roughed in on Southern gravel and sweat, singing stories of busted loves and better breaks. His “Mission Temple Fireworks Stand” is a near-perfect reckoning of religion and revenue, a testament to his past and his hopes for the future. If you’re scared of R&B that’s unafraid of the backwaters it came from, Thorn isn’t your witness. $19/ 8:30 p.m. GC

Function, Apothecary Hymns, Dead Elephant Bicycle, Nightlight

It’s barely January, and I already know the one record of 2006 I regret ignoring: The Secret Miracle Fountain, from Australia’s Function, is a waking dream, a coddled, peaceful stare of electronic haze and accentuated arpeggios. If beauty breathed, she’d talk about this. Locust labelmates Apothecary Hymns try a bit too hard to drop pills down the gullet of tied-and-bound melodies with twisted acoustics and shamanic extrapolations. Winston-Salem’s Dead Elephant Bicycle turns a sinister eye to sadness, aching acoustic songs reminiscent of an elliptical Conor Oberst draped in the sort of free-moving instrumental angularity that has kept Constellation bands like A Silver Mt. Zion inspired. They need to make a record. Insect Factory opens. $6/ 10 p.m. GC

Jason Boland & The Stragglers, Hideaway BBQ

Achieving Nashville notoriety seems to hinge on one’s ability to pen pop-inflected parables with a pseudo-country twist (shout outs to Jewel and Cowboy Troy). But for country outlaw Jason Boland, Nashville nods mean nothing. Boland is a country purist, pouring helpings of hard-nosed grit, dirt and gumption that summon John and Waylon in one well-aimed chorus. His band, The Stragglers, follow suit: rowdy rhythms that cradle Boland’s baritone inside fiddle shuffles, bouncy bass and pedal sighs. $8/ 9:30 p.m. KJ

Saturday, January 20

Camera Obscura, The Essex Green, Georgie James, Cat’s Cradle

Following a decade of unfaltering twee, Scotland’s Camera Obscura finally stepped from beneath the massive umbrella of fellow Glasgow indie poppers Belle & Sebastian. Their most recent Merge Records full-length, Let’s Get Out of This Country, saw Tracyanne Campbell and company at their fullest, sweetest and most addictive, procuring near-universal press praise and amassing hordes of anorak-toting admirers. For the second time in six months, the most promising new patrons of indie pop grace the Cradle, this time with fellow Merge toe-tappers The Essex Green in tow. $14/ 8:45 p.m. RI

The BQs, Slim’s

Birthed from the best dive bars of Raleigh, The BQs rise like the glass-eyed offspring of Paul Westerberg and Alex Chilton. The Cherry Valence’s former singing drummer (just not the blond one) Brian Quast heads the seasoned gang of Raleigh rockers and gives the rest of the Oak City’s ’70s rock worshippers a run for their money. 10 p.m. RI

Nikki Meets the Hibachi, The Cave

For almost 20 years now, Elaine Tola and John Gillespie have been bringing folk-rock to the Franklin Street masses under the name Nikki Meets the Hibachi, sharing a sound that Gillespie puts in Stipe-with-hair terms: “If early R.E.M. never had a rhythm section, they wouldn’t sound way different from us.” And they’ve got a swell new record out, Back Around, which generously tacks on their ’90 release, The Bluest Sky. 7:30 p.m. ­RC

Death of the Sun, The Gondoliers, Local 506

Local fresh faces here: Tune in for DotS, the new project from folks from My Dear Ella and Fashion Design; Spinn-off The Gondoliers get the garage crunch-hunch on; and openers Violet Vector and The Lovely Lovelies make some sunny bubblegum pop. Free/ 10 p.m. CT

Leon Russell, The ArtsCenter

The overused term “force of nature” needs to be reserved for truly deserving circumstances, like Leon Russell when he’s sitting at a piano. Whether he’s quietly easing into “A Song for You” or blasting off “Delta Lady” with the help of what’s always a top-flight band, you’re going to feel some level of G-force. And The ArtsCenter’s intimate nature always makes things hit that much harder. Wear padding. $30/ 8:30 p.m. RC

Fred Eaglesmith & the Flying Squirrels, Hideaway BBQ

A north-of-the-border kindred spirit of Steve Earle, Dave Alvin and occasional collaborator Chris Knight, Ontario’s Fred Eaglesmith is a hell of a storyteller who just happens to be a hell of a musician. He could have a career as a standup comic too, a point that, though not obvious when listening to his songs of rugged, weary lives, becomes unquestionable when you catch him live. $18-$20/ 9:30 p.m. RC

Tuesday, January 23

The Queers, The Heart Attacks, The Riptides, Cat’s Cradle

While The Queers are no doubt past their prime (the band turns 25 this year), one major thing can still be said in their defense: They’re a pop punk band. No matter how old Joe Queer gets, how much hair he has lost or who he has playing bass, he is still Joe Queer, he still wrote Love Songs for the Retarded, and he still fronts one of the best bands in one of the most perfect genres ever. $10/ 8:15 p.m. RI

Wednesday, January 24

Cage, C-Chan, The Govone, Cat’s Cradle

Cage is a shock-value rapper who swung to the next level with his 2005 Definitive Jux debut, Hell’s Winter. He raps about his history of psychiatric quibbles, his misfortunes with women and his political misgivings, delivering it all in tight, hard-tempo verses that are immediate and challenging. He’s not subtle or intricate, but he’s hard, smart and tough. The forthcoming Depart From Me should bring a whole new exoskeleton. His scars may carry him far. His opening act, Cupcake, make films of SuicideGirls-meets-party-foul value: Add the former’s nudity and tattoos and the latter’s blood and butchered animals, and you’ve got their latest, I Hate It. Sans-subtlety content that’s still ponderous? Touring with Cage makes near-perfect sense. $8-$10/ 9:30 p.m. ­GC

Murphy’s Law, Empire Falls, Local 506

Brains can be overrated. Sometimes, it’s better just to turn them off (I recommend alcohol) and have some fun. For 20 years, New York hardcore legends Murphy’s Law has understood this, bypassing punk’s self-righteous political rage in favor of chunky, silly blasts such as “Panty Raid,” “Drinking & Driving” and “Woke Up Tied Up.” Though the act’s a little dated, singer Jimmy Gestapo hasn’t faded. He stalks the stage like a snotty teen who never grew up. $10/ 9 p.m. CP

Josh Rouse, Cat’s Cradle

When singer/songwriter Josh Rouse released his breakthrough fifth album, 1972 (in 2003), it was a statement of purpose. Harkening to the ’70s, Rouse’s songs are nuanced, richly textured, suffused with warmth and feature elements of soul, baroque pop and soft rock. She’s Spanish, I’m American and Daniel Tashian join the bill. $15-17/ 9 p.m. CP