The Northern Hues - A Philly based sextet with a shimmering, reverb-friendly sound in which traces can be found of latter-day Verve, Wish-era Cure, and early REM : bands all name-checked in the press packet. But the most obvious reference point : Gomez : is noticeably absent from the PR material even though Dan Avidian's voice is practically a vocal doppelganger of the muscular Gomez vocalists. Still, their self-titled six-song EP clearly suggests there's something above the run-of-the-mill here, and the standout cut, "Close Your Eyes," which was recorded live at New York's Pianos, bodes well for the live act. With Bibis Ellison & Gina Young. The Evening Muse (Schacht)


Sea of Cortez/Bruce Hazel & Some Volunteers - Rodney Lanier's instrumental visionaries will be building stripped down, "Strings of Cortez" versions of their evocative soundscapes, but it should be the usual mix of mesmerizing influences : Eastern European, South of the Border and Spaghetti Western soundtrack, for starters. Expect some of Bruce Hazel's Volunteers : a rotating cast almost always pinned down by sound-check : to add an accent or two during the SoC set. As for Hazel, he'll be dipping heavily into new material, much of it headed for a new record currently in progress at Cougar Camp studios. If you haven't heard him anywhere but fronting the Noise, you're in for a treat; the mellow side of Hazel isn't any less intense on stage. The Evening Muse (Schacht)

Y'allternative RockFest - Here's a tightly wound two-night showcase of local and regional bands. On tap for this year's fest are Deviant, People, Cerebrum, Shadowflag, Extra Medium, IN-V, The Talk and others. For a complete list of bands and their respective performance times, log onto Tonight and tomorrow beginning around 5pm. Amos' Southend (Shukla)


Jazz Mandolin Project - The deal here is a heady mix of jazz and Americana sprinkled with world music and Jamie Masefield leading the troupe with his freewheeling jazz mandolin. Masefield and company's latest recording is the wonderful covers album The Deep Forbidden Lake, which features the crew interpreting tunes by Radiohead, Neil Young, Ornette Coleman, Tom Waits and others. Neighborhood Theatre (Shukla)

John Cowan - Creative Loafing's all-knowing receptionist (name withheld due to pending American Idol appearance) returned from her assignment at Merlefest singing the praises of John Cowan; not only can he play, he's kinda hunky, too, went the report. Cowan, an exile from The New Grass Revival, does have a golden tenor, and a background that also features time spent with two memorable Louisville rock acts, Everyday People and Louisville Sound Department (get it?). His solo recordings are somewhat overproduced (as in awash, as in coated, as in drowned), but live? Well, it's hard to argue with, oh, let's call her "Amanda" : she wields much power. Sylvia Theater, York (Schacht)

Phosphorea/Terror Couple - It's Boone Night at the SK Net, as two acts from the mountains make their way down to learn us flatlanders a thing or two about The Rock. Phosphorea cites both Swans and Goo Goo Dolls as inspiration, so it's no surprise their sound isn't easy to pin down; call it atmospheric, gothic and noir, or go with their "apocalyptic make-out music."/Terror Couple list their industrial-based sound as "music of cruelty," and their live show as a "multi-media assault designed to overwhelm the senses." With Artaud's Theatre of Cruelty and Skinny Puppy as two reference points, this is one the whole family can enjoy, so bring along the kids (for possible ritual sacrifice). With locals IDM proponents Ultra-Modern Leather Express. SK Netcafe (Schacht)

Tinsley Ellis - Ellis emerged in the wave of blues guitarists that followed Stevie Ray Vaughn in the late 80s. He got his start in the first part of that decade founding the Heartfixers, before leaving for a solo career in 1988. In that time he's honed his fiery licks and tightened his songwriting, reaching a new level with his last two albums, Hell or Highwater and The Hard Way. The gruff-voiced Atlanta guitarist works a wide palette from Cajun swamp to Memphis soul, filling the space between with searing six-string pyrotechnics. Double Door Inn (Parker)


Elevator Action - Charlotte's trash-pop trio are recording their follow-up to the exceptional It's Just Addiction, with John Agnello (J Mascis, Mark Lanegan, The Breeders) producing. The disc should be out in the fall or early winter, as recording is wrapping up in New York, the finishing touches to be applied here in Charlotte. If you've never seen 'em live, try not to make that mistake again. This rock is spelled R-A-W-K. With Thunderlip, Bang!Bang! and the old standby "more". Milestone (Schacht)


Spongetones CD Release - One of Charlotte's true musical veterans, the Spongetones have been purveying power pop since the early 80s, establishing themselves as one of the genre's best. From the effortlessly catchy melodies to the punchy guitars and perky rhythms, The Spongetones resurrect the best elements of that Big Star/Beatles influence. Along the way they've digressed into psych, jangle pop and garage rock, but the energy and hooks have always remained in abundance. The Evening Muse (Parker)