"History is always happening" at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
9 p.m., Juanita's. $10 adv./$12 d.o.s.
The grit is gone, but Against Me! hasn't gotten any less defiant. Long the standard-bearers for quick-strummed punk-folk, the Gainesville four-piece built their reputation on socially conscious barroom anthems and political rave-ups. In 2005, they signed to Sire and thereafter headlined the Warped Tour and recorded with super-producer Butch Vig (Garbage, Nirvana). Through the storm of cred questioning, the band last year put out one of 2007's most critically acclaimed albums. “New Wave” trades the punk and folk of old for tuneful rock, some of which you can even dance to. Breathe deep, old fans. This isn't a bad thing. The band hasn't left its ethos at the door. Lead singer/songwriter Tom Gabel is as considered and self-aware as ever, singing largely about the politics of making music. A rare chance to see Against Me! in a club setting, Thursday's show is the only club date outside of the arena tour the band is on with the Foo Fighters for the first four months of the year. Two of Arkansas's finest acts, alt-country-leaning singer/songwriter Cory Branan and barroom rockers Smoke Up Johnny, open.
9 p.m., White Water Tavern. $5.
One of Little Rock's finest singer/songwriters takes a solo turn on Thursday. As the lead singer of Big Silver and the Easys, Alexander starts with a solid base of the Beatles and builds — a hearty dose of the Band in the former, the likes of Elvis Costello and Jellyfish in the latter. While Beatlesque melodies are pretty much a given, who knows what Alexander's latest solo foray will yield? Last year, the singer/songwriter traveled to Nashville a half dozen or so times to record a solo record. I hear tell that Max may put it out in thick vinyl in the not-too-distant future. Keep your fingers crossed. In the meantime, from the demos on his MySpace page (myspace.com/isaacalexander), it sounds like he's using this album to experiment — different pacing, more vocal acrobatics. It sounds good. A side project of members of the Global Test, Flat Top Tony and the Purple Canoes, opens. It sounds like the Global Test gone gonzo. The shadow of Andrew W.K. looms large, as does, if the band's “influences” section on its MySpace page is to be trusted, Molten Lava, Alexander's college band. Maybe we'll get some covers.
CHRISTOPHER DENNY AND THE OLD SOLES
9 p.m., White Water Tavern. $5.
There is, officially, nothing new to say about Chris Denny. He's been writ up in these pages and elsewhere locally probably a hundred times. So since it's all been said, I'm going to be redundant for the new folks and casual entertainment readers. First and foremost, the 23-year-old has a preternaturally strong voice. I've called it a high warble before. Others bandy about Jimmie Dale Gilmore and a young Roy Orbison. Over the last several years, he's released two albums of old-school folk rock, the latter of which came out on a national indie, which led to a face-to-face with Rick Rubin, a glowing review from Pitchfork and a profile on NPR. Lately, the newly married crooner has been a ghost around town. Whether he's been flirting with the precipice of what stardom there is for old-school folk-rockers with high warbles or seeing the country with his new bride, it's always a big to-do when he returns. On Friday and Saturday, Denny and his backing band, the Old Soles, hold down White Water's stage.
Congratulations Tara, beautifully written!