Dodd Ferrelle & The Tinfoil Stars - The Tybee/Savannah-based Ferrelle has eschewed the mandolins and soft, Southern-rock twang of his past platters for more of a feedback-drenched, Crazy Horse-type sound on his excellent new song cycle, The Murder of Love. A comer in the y'all-ternative genre, Ferrelle's songwriting on the new album still retains much of its Southern charm due to his lowcountry twang and ingenious, almost imperceptible, use of island rhythm. Forget Kenny Chesney and Uncle Kracker : this stuff's straight-up cracklin'. The Evening Muse (Timothy C. Davis)

Sponge - Sponge got a firsthand look at the "world of human wreckage" during the late 90s, in the wake of the band's grunge hit "Plowed." Dropped after the next album, the band forged on and became more eclectic than its early Stone Temple Pilots-like sound suggested. Sponge's other hit was "Molly (Sixteen Candles)," which showed the band's knack for jangly, hook-driven rock. Amos' Southend (Parker)


Paul Oakenfold - One of the biggest names in electronics music for the last 20 years (somewhat due to his own relentless self-promotion and legend-making), Oakenfold was once the vanguard of the two-turntable set. A staunch traditionalist : call him the Oasis of electronica : Oakenfold's been outspoken in the recent year about the advent of laptop DJs, some of whom have helped to muffle Oakey's considerable thunder. (Hey Oak: folk music didn't die when Dylan went electric.) Oakenfold's definitely worth checking out, if only to see what all the fuss is about. With Hernán Cattáneo and Liquid Todd. Velocity (Davis)


The Clarks - These Iron City rockers built a large regional following for their country-tinged rock over the last 17 years, but despite a cup of tea with the majors (1997's Someday Maybe on MCA), they haven't been able to breach radio. It isn't their fault : the Clarks' modern-rock punch recalls the Goo Goo Dolls with a touch of twang. Visulite Theatre (Parker)

Cue - This Austin-based quartet's self-described "chamber rock" is nothing less than inspired. The Cue's skilled, interwoven instrumentals evoke Tortoise or B-movie soundscapes in which the violin adds an otherworldly dimension. Save the trip to the bar for after the band finishes. This is music worth paying attention to. Milestone (Shukla)

Janiva Magness - Magness is a veteran blues singer and wound up with a 2005 W.C. Handy best contemporary blues female artist nomination. Her newest recording, Bury Him at the Crossroads, is a potent combination of electric, acoustic and jump blues. She can lend a shoulder to comfort the lonely or belt out wailers to accompany the "been there done that" drinking revelry. Double Door Inn (Shukla)


The Cherry Valence - A tag-teaming pair of drummer/vocalists leads this Raleigh band's double-fisted attack, which revels in decadent, 70s-rock sleaze, miming the swagger of Ted Nugent with the anthemic crunch of GNR, all washed down with a swig of grimy garage-borne rhythms. It's a pounding, propulsive noise that rattles the temples and pumps up the pulse. After losing its original guitarist and bassist last year, the band regrouped and recorded its recent third album, TCV3. Milestone (Parker)

Keb Darge - Rap and electronics are the ultimate post-modern musical forms, in that they're built on the idea of appropriation and layering. For deep funk DJ Darge, this means diving so deep into old record crates he needs a bathysphere. Hailing from the UK's Northern Soul club scene, the Scottish DJ unearths old 45s and rare grooves that draw their inspiration from the hard, lean sounds of James Brown and the Meters to fashion a sweaty, booty-bumping dancefloor vibe. Visulite Theatre (Parker)


Hot Hot Heat - Dipping from the same 80s post-punk pool as other popular acts such as Franz Ferdinand, the Canadian quartet Hot Hot Heat has a spiky new wave sound that combines infectious, keyboard-driven riffs, witty and literate lyrics, and scratchy guitars. The band recently lost its guitarist, Dante DeCaro, which may be why HHH's latest album, Elevator, is pretty disappointing aside from the terrific single, "You Owe Me an IOU." Amos' Southend (Parker)


Stimulator - Susan Hyatt and Geoff Tyson are the core duo of this revivalist new wave band. Their "Let's Hook Up" lyrics sound a bit juvenile, but the music and Hyatt's come-hither vocals are darn catchy. Think of 80s new wave dance music updated for the new century. Opening for Duran Duran. Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre (Shukla)

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