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CL previews upcoming shows

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THURSDAY, NOV. 6

Graham Parker Parker was billed – and is too often remembered – as the next Elvis Costello, even though his recording career predates Costello's by over a year. And unlike the latter's steady migration toward, well, everything else, Parker has remained pretty true to the Angry Young Men tag – whip-smart, class-conscious narratives that suffer no fools. Parker was bolstered by the Rumor, and more recently the Figgs, both bands equally adept at delivering his piss-taking, punk-pop goods. Nothing may live up to 1979's Squeezing Out Sparks (a Rolling Stone Top 500 album), but recent fare suggests there's plenty of rousing bile left in the tank. Visulite (John Schacht)

The Black Crowes When these two shows were announced – for Nov. 6 and 7 – most people exclaimed a collective, "Holy shit! At the Neighborhood?!?" Much love to the powers that be at the NoDa venue for scoring the two-night treasure. Will they play different stuff each night? Old stuff? New stuff? WGAS – if you've seen the Crowes live before, it'll all be good. Neighborhood Theatre (Jeff Hahne)

FRIDAY, NOV. 7

Lake On its latest, the Dr. Seuss-inspired Oh, The Places We'll Go, this quintet of Olympians takes its cues from lo-fi indie pop and more elaborately structured dance rhythms, like a less frenetic Stereolab with a Philly soul and afro-beat buzz. There's something literally warm and fuzzy (but not cloying) about the music – synths, keys, horns and boy-girl harmonies creating blanket-like textures well-suited for fall weather. With fellow K Records label-mates Desolation Wilderness, and locals Calabi Yau and Black Congo NC. Milestone (Schacht)

SATURDAY, NOV. 8

Milhouse The Charleston acoustic jam quartet's eccentric swirl of mandolin, guitars, cello, various percussion instruments and fluid vocals creates a certain mood, maybe that of a relaxed twilight drive. Their fine recent EP, A Collection of Rare Birds, manages to color the songs with classical shades via the cello and rootsy and folky swirls for a, well, pretty darn eclectic groove. Opening for the Clarks. Visulite (Samir Shukla)

Evan Bliss & the Welchers Sure, there's nothing groundbreaking here. Yet the Welchers comfortably span genres, infusing a touch of reggae, jazz and funk into its bubbly pop. Tag the quintet as a jam band if you like, but it's one with a funky backbeat that's more steered toward pop nuggets than endless jamming. RIYL: John Mayer, Jack Johnson, and America (the band, that is). With Benjy Davis Project. Evening Muse (Shukla)

Nicole Atkins The former Charlotte resident has taken off since being named one of Rolling Stone's Artists to Watch in 2006, releasing a well-received (and for good reason) debut record, Neptune City, playing Letterman, Leno, and Craig Ferguson (himself an Artist To Watch in the late night TV game) and touring like a madwoman. People often use k.d. lang and Amy Winehouse as aural references for Ms. Atkins, but to the uninitiated, I'd say she's closer to a Shelby Lynne – soulful, '60s-influenced and with enough old-soul starkness to scare you if you're not paying attention. Plus, she writes most of her own songs. The woman some folks used to call "Guitar Girl" during her time in the Q.C. has come a long way. Neighborhood Theatre (Timothy C. Davis)

SUNDAY, NOV. 9

The Royal Bangs I saw Knoxville, Tenn.'s The Royal Bangs (along with dancing outlaw Jesco White) open up for The Black Keys in Nashville, Tenn., recently, and, when asked later by a friend what I thought of them, I couldn't summon an answer. The band's certainly talented – it can follow a hooky-as-hell, sugarcoated pop song like "Cat Swallow" with tracks that variously suggest Arcade Fire, TVOTR, Weezer and Sebadoh. Right now, however, as creative as it is, it sometimes sounds a little bit like the sonic equivalent of fusion cooking – all the right ingredients, perhaps, but with a certain soupcon of soul missing from the bowl. Check out their newish CD, We Breed Champions, for a taste. The Milestone (Davis)

MONDAY, NOV. 10

Joe Jackson He is still an angry young man of the punk/new wave eras of late '70s and early '80s, but Jackson's literate rock has always bounced back and forth between full-on rockers to piano-touched rockers, jump blues and jazzy ballads. Touring in support of his newest, Rain, the aging rocker and pro-smoker (check his rants against public smoking bans on his Web site) is still hip, forever nerdy, but hip. Neighborhood Theatre (Shukla)

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