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Melissa Ferrick -- Whether it's a throaty yodel or a subtle whisper, Ferrick delivers introspective and mature songs on her latest, possibly her strongest, CD called Listen Hard. She can strum and twang the guitar till blisters pop open and she weaves lyrical twists that beckon repeat visits. It's potent modern rock with acoustic accoutrements and a nice rhythm section that swings and sways right alongside. Put aside comparisons to a more famous Melissa cuz Ferrick's dues have been paid; now the masses need to wake up and pay attention. Got it? With Anne Heaton & Edie Carey. Amos' SouthEnd (Shukla)

Bellyfull -- The Rhythm of Creation is the recent joint by this Charlotte combo and it properly presents the band's agenda of jazzy forays into funky R&B via the Jam highway. The title track is a spacey exploration lurking in the solar system known as Jazz. The band puts forth mostly instrumental stuff but the songs with lyrical overlays aren't too shabby either. Also appearing are Bessie Mae's Dream and Home Remedy. Puckett's Farm Equipment (Shukla)

Hardcore Halloween Ball -- An annual event at Fat City, this year's metallic spook-fest includes Star Motor Company, a band Tommy Lee wishes he could play for; Clout, Black Acid Disco, Black Lagoon, Team Discoveree, Lo-Jack, and strangely enough, the bluesy Mookie Brill. Always a good time, though, unless you're one of the bartenders. Fat City (Davis)

Snagglepuss / Babyshaker -- This ought to make for an intriguing All Hallow's Eve show: The raucous new wave grind of Snagglepuss, paired with the balls-and-everything-else-out glam punk fury of Babyshaker, are shaken up like a cocktail in a building that used to be an old church. Add costumes as a garnish, and it sounds like a winner. With Steven Tyler's favorite band, Elevator Action. The Steeple Lounge (Davis)

The Soundtrack Of Our Lives / Cato Salsa Experience -- Here's rock and roll from the northern frontiers of Europe. TSOOL are a hip Swedish six-piece plying waters of Oasis while twisting Guided by Voices and other lo-fi bands into a bigger sound. / CSE are a Norwegian garage quartet with 60s persona, 70s punk blitz, 80s coolness and the 90s alterna rock, all wrapped up in a funky package. It's a serious "Rock and Roll ain't kicked the bucket yet" double bill. Tremont Music Hall (Shukla)

AK1200 -- Self-proclaimed Drum 'n' Bass Don AK1200 may be forgiven for such a techie name and allusions to the mafia as soon as the needle hits the record. His new record, Shoot To Kill, is one of the funnest discs to hit this desk all year, and he even lets a few selected guests -- Junior Reid, Phife Dawg, and Rob Playford, among others -- in on the hi-intensity hijinks. Check it out. Mythos (Davis)

Pierre Bensusan -- Pierre's French. You may have gathered that. What you may not know is that many folks consider him one of the single best guitarists currently inhabiting our planet Earth. A master of many styles, his best work is sort of an amalgam of Latin, African, and Jazz, all delivered in a warm, bittersweet tone that will take the older folks back and make the younger folks wish they'd been there. Neighborhood Theatre (Davis)

Belmont Playboys -- One of the only bands in town to make Mike Ness look like a pussy, the Belmont Playboys haven't changed a lot over the years in the name of "artistic growth," but then again, they don't need to. Power rockabilly, greasy around the edges and with a tough center. Double Door Inn (Davis)

The Connells / Mayflies USA -- A double dose of North Carolina pop. The Connells can still churn out a wistful memory or two in these parts after almost two decades of clean-cut college and power pop. The Raleigh crew still provides a jangling good time and is back pushing the solid set of new tunes, Old-School Dropouts. / Mayflies USA are tops when it comes to Brit influenced melodic pop music. They do it right and then come back and do it better, all over again. New record is out, the guitars are warmed up and it's Saturday night for cryin' out loud, so get off yer bum and get out there. Visulite Theatre (Shukla)

Yohimbre Brothers -- After several years in apparent seclusion, guitarist Vernon Reid is finally going public again. His rock band Living Colour is preparing a new CD and tour, and he's been working a lot lately with old friend DJ Logic. He toured with Logic's band Project Logic earlier this year, and now comes their crazy collaboration Yohimbe Brothers. The new CD, Front End Lifter, resists description, but words relating to insanity keep coming to mind. It's electronic/dance music, but not like any you've heard before. Vernon plays guitars and effects, and Logic plays turntables, samples and sounds. They'll bring a band, too, with keyboards, drums, bass, and two vocalists. The CD cover has a warning that the music may cause extreme sexual excitability, so be careful if you bring a date. Visulite Theatre (Brian Falk)

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