This weekend's Soundcheck has a nicely cosmopolitan feel, from Jamaican dancehall royalty to third-wave English ska, from South Asian twang to Deep South twang, from anti-folk to pro-folk. It's also a big weekend for We Are Hex, which will premiere its new single on Third Man Records at an in-store Friday afternoon at Luna Music. Here are this week's picks, with suggestions for further reading:
When they opened for Margot a couple years back, we described Judgement Day, a cello, violin and drums trio that calls itself a “string metal band,” as a mini-Trans-Siberian Orchestra. And while that might have been a little rough on the band, it gets at the essence of their sound. Judgement Day may prove interesting in an acoustic setting, where the drummer, who usually plays a full kit, reduces his resources to a few buckets and other miscellaneous percussion. With local singer-songwriter Christian Taylor and his full band Homeschool. 7 p.m., free (donations accepted), all ages.
The Greenhornes were a going concern there for a while, an up-and-coming Cincinnati garage band with inside-the-house chops. But then Jack White stole them away, first asking them to back Loretta Lynn on the White-produced Van Lear Rose, then to form a new band with him, The Raconteurs. But they finally found the time to put out a new record on White’s Third Man label, which they’re touring behind this spring. With San Antonio fuzz-blues rockers Hacienda and local slop rockers (and Third Man bandmates) We Are Hex. 9 p.m., $10, 21+.
Back after playing at least nine shows during SXSW, We Are Hex celebrates the release of a new single on Jack White’s Third Man Records with an early-evening in-store at Luna’s midtown location. Todd at Luna reports that he’ll be carrying copies of an ultra-rare, tri-color version of the record — but not for very long, based on calls he’s already taken from overseas customers who are either really into We Are Hex, or really convinced that anything on White’s label could become a collector’s item. Last week's cover story on the band tells the rest of the story. 6 p.m., free, all ages.
Four Indiana singer-songwriters do it in the round. Bobbie Lancaster has distinguished herself over the past couple years with appearances in the John Prine tribute show Pure Prine and by playing the role of Carrie Newcomer in the Scott Russell Sanders-inspired Wilderness Plots. Laura Balke is an equal-opportunity collaborator who's been heard with emcees (Oreo Jones) and folk singers (Matthew Beer) alike. 8 p.m., free, all ages.
Sure, Paleface was already making his comeback when he met Mo. The anti-folk singer-songwriter, who hit a rough patch in the late ‘90s after launching his career under the tutelage of anti-folk icon Daniel Johnston, was getting back at the swing by playing Lower East Side open mics and hanging around the Sidewalk Cafe. But he entered a new stage when Mo, a younger drummer who eventually became his girlfriend, introduced herself one night and said she wanted to play music together. Wade Coggeshall's profile on the duo takes it from there. 8 p.m., $6 advance, $8 door, 21+.
The Birmingham, England-based two-tone ska band (known just as The Beat in their native land) had a great first run of it from 1978-1983, and were remarkable for a multi-racial membership that included a saxophonist, Saxa, who played with first-wave ska greats Prince Buster and Desmond Dekker, not to mention several U.K. Top 40 hits and a U.S. tour with The Pretenders and Talking Heads. Guitarist Dave Wakeling, who now makes his home in California, is the sole original member of the U.S. incarnation of the Beat, which came together in the mid-‘90s after a one-off reunion show primed the pump. 9 p.m., $23 advance, $25 door, 21+.
Jamaican-born dancehall DJ and singer Sister Nancy made her mark in a scene that’s not terribly friendly to female performers, becoming the first female DJ to play some prominent Kingston clubs. Her anthem “Bam Bam” was called a classic by The Guardian, and has provided the raw materials for many a remix. With Moss Raxlen, Danger, DJ Indiana Jones and RastaZilion. 10 p.m., $12 advance, $15 door, 21+.
As a boy I would walk through the valley. Gazed at the world all round. Made a vow that somehow I would find fame and fortune. I found it, but look at me now. I had a sweetheart who would love me forever. Didn’t need her, I would reign all alone. And look at me, I’m the king of the cold lonely castle. The queen of my heart is gone. 8 p.m., sold out, all ages.
Guitarist Fareed Haque and his Flat Earth Ensemble explore the intersection between the folk music of South Asia and American music such as jazz and soul, finding that all music is basically dance music. Their 2009 Owl Studios release, Flat Planet, was powered by Haque’s virtuosity on just about anything with strings (including a sitar-guitar hybrid of his own design) and a tremendous diversity in material (from funk-flavored dance numbers to more contemplative, ecstatic songs). 8 and 10 p.m., $15, 21+.
Bloomington’s Davy Jay Sparrow and his Well-Known Famous Drovers are keen on the golden age of honky-tonk, covering and writing songs in the style of Bob Wills, Earnest Tubb and, of course, Hank. With piano-driven honky-tonk outfit The Innocent Boys and the ever-versatile Danny Thompson Trio. 9 p.m., $5, 21+.
Amos Lee, a laid-back singer-songwriter whose stuff has earned favorable comparisons to Bill Withers and James Taylor, plays a sold-out Murat show in support of his fourth album on Blue Note, Mission Bell, kind of a downer of a record which featured appearances by Lucinda Williams and Willie Nelson. 7:30 p.m., sold out, all-ages.
Burnt Ones, the woozy garage rock trio that relocated from Indianapolis to Oakland last year, is back in town after a week at SXSW that included a packed appearance at My Old Kentucky Blog’s showcase. With Bloomington noise rock duo Learner Dancer, Minneapolis band STNNNG and Michigan’s Child Bite. 9 p.m., 21+.