Zombie ballads, Virginia sludge, loud ladies

The best under-the-radar shows take place after the weekend, and the first is Troubled Coast, a rough-and-tumble melodic-punk group from Berkeley, Calif. At 6:30 p.m. Oct. 2, they play a free show at Zia Records (4503 W. Sahara Ave.). The band’s most recent release is 7-inch vinyl record, I’ve Been Thinking About Leaving You, and it’s a brisk listen. The guitars get pretty math-rock (as in technical) on tracks such as “Patient Hands,” but there’s always a spot where the hook finally arrives and things open up and go widescreen. I detect a Cursive-style emo-rock influence, too, meaning Coast and singer Mile Scornaienchi have a confessional side. Been years since I caught a record-shop show.

Later that evening, Richmond, Va.-based blackened psychedelic doom-sludge warriors Inter Arma—it’s Latin for “time of arms”—lay waste to Yayo Taco at 9 p.m. Oct. 2. Last month, the band signed with big-time metal label Relapse Records, home of top-tier hesher acts like Mastodon, but Arma is touring the U.S. in support of a just-released 12-inch EP, Destroyer, via Toxic Assets Records. (Stream it for free at InterArma.bandcamp.com.) Sure, the band will completely rip your face off and eat it. But their EP’s opening track, “Wailing Moon,” also boasts indie/post-rock elements. In other words, anyone who digs heavy music should find Arma alluring.

The next night, New Brunswick, N.J., noise-punk trio Screaming Females might get a little loud at Beauty Bar at 9 p.m. Oct. 3. The band’s most recent full-length is Ugly, produced by alt-rock icon Steve Albini (who oversaw Nirvana’s In Utero). It’s a punchy, early-’90s alt-rock flashback that falls somewhere between Dinosaur Jr. and Sleater-Kinney. On Ugly, Singer/guitarist Marissa Paternoster howls like a banshee and makes you feel warm and fuzz-rocked whenever she lays down a blistering solo—which is often. Whether the Females are femme fatales in a live setting remains to be seen, but I’m betting this show will be more than a retro riot-grrrl moment.

Local musician and web developer Josh Ellis has a rep for his confrontational wit and Tourette-level profanity. His new gothic-Americana moniker is Legba & Sons, which just released two digital singles—doom-blues slave song “Shadows & Dust” and zombie-apocalypse folk ballad “The Walker’s Lament,” beautifully sung by Tara Bratton. Ellis is a gifted songwriter, and these tunes are as good as anything Nick Cave ever penned. If you think I smoke meth, visit LegbaAndSons.bandcamp.com and hear Legba for free.

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A Long Walk on the Wild Side

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A Long Walk on the Wild Side

By Chantal Corcoran

Back in February, when Cheryl Strayed last appeared in Las Vegas (she spoke on a panel about female novelists for UNLV’s Black Mountain Institute), nobody had really heard of her. She had a well-received but largely unknown novel, Torch (Houghton Mifflin, 2006). She had a week previously relinquished her anonymity as (unpaid) advice columnist Dear Sugar for the online magazine, The Rumpus. And she had a memoir, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (Knopf, $26) that was a month away from being published.

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