Sat. Dec. 29

Club Bernard’s

Johns Island

“Her booty got bounce like a bounce castle.” That’s the first line from O.S.B.’s song “Birthday Girl,” and it sets the tone for what you can expect from Charleston’s original Soul-Jah Boy: Maximalist club tracks designed to get you dancing. O.S.B. actually used to go by the handle Soul-Jah Boy, until some hotshot from Mississippi with roughly the same name started swag-turning and Superman-ing his way to the top of the charts in 2007. O.S.B. has his own thing going anyway; he’s got a sensitive side. Check out the track “Bad Day,” which samples — you guessed it — Daniel Powter’s 2005 tell-me-your-problems hit “Bad Day.” You’ll also hear a deep voice singing bits of the chorus from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack’s “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.” —Paul Bowers SATURDAY

JAM | American Aquarium

w/ Dangermuffin

Sat. Dec. 29

9 p.m.

$10/advance, $12/door

Pour House

There’s a certain desperation surrounding American Aquarium, a band that makes its living miles from home 200 nights a year. It adds poignancy to their tales of the lonely, luckless, and lost, because they’re clearly intimate with the subject. On songs like “Casualties,” frontman B.J. Barham solemnly observes, “We damn near wasted all our 20s chasing down a dream, now we’re all breaking points and broken guitar strings.” A dark but not-yet-despondent album, American Aquarium’s latest, Burn.Flicker.Die is the natural outcome of their prodigious tour and release schedule (including five studio albums in six years). During that time they’ve traced a course similar to Lucero through traditional country and roots rock into their recent Springsteen-ian anthems for the damned. Funded by Kickstarter and produced by former Drive-By Trucker Jason Isbell, Burn.Flicker.Die showcases Barham’s sharpening songwriting and the gritty, grizzled stride of his road-hardened band. His gruff baritone surveys the “part-time jobs and full-time addictions” with jaundiced, self-aware eyes that’ve seen Saturday night inexorably morph into Sunday morning. Yet for all the asphalt-weary kvetching, American Aquarium deliver their raw-boned rock boogie and slow-burn balladry with the infectious passion of true lifers. —Chris Parker SATURDAY

SKA | The Mahlors

Sat. Dec. 29

8 p.m.

The Mill

The Mahlors come to the ska/reggae scene via jazz, metal, and rock with a healthy dose of punk thrown in for good measure. They’ve got the bouncy rhythms of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones or Reel Big Fish, tempered with an occasional burst of aggression from drummer T.J. Haslett or vocalist Justin Jones. “Even though we have a good reggae sound, the thing that separates us is that we don’t try to sound reggae,” Jones says. “We try to sound like a rock or punk band.” Jones and bass player Anthony Villar both studied jazz, and the genre’s syncopated rhythms make their way into the Mahlor’s music every now and then. Metal shows up sometimes too, especially in the song “Can’t Relate.” That might be partly due to Haslett, who Jones says “was a huge metalhead.” The Pennsylvania-based band released their second album, Stay True, this past summer, and they’re still riding that wave — they’ve played 170 shows this year alone. “That was hands down our best work,” says Jones. “It’s gonna be hard to top.” Hear those hard-to-top songs on their website at themahlors.com. —Elizabeth Pandolfi SATURDAY

ROCKABILLY | Dex Romweber Duo

w/ The Royal Tinfoil

Thurs. Dec. 27

8 p.m.

$10/advance, $12/door

Tin Roof

First as a member of the iconic Flat Duo Jets, and now as one-half of the Dex Romweber Duo, Dex Romweber has been making music since the early 1980s and has thousands of shows and 14 records to his name. “Nothing really surprises me anymore,” he says. “I’ve played to three people. I’ve played to thousands. If setbacks happen, even the failure of a record, you’ve seen them before.” Romweber and his sister Sarah, a drummer, joined up in 2007 and have continued to develop the strummy, electric, chaotic surf-rock sound that’s so beloved by musicians like Jack White, Neko Case, and Cat Power, to name just a few. It’s easy to see why, too — just listen to the Duo’s most recent album, Is That You in the Blue? Some sounds on this mix of covers and originals belong in a smoke-filled lounge in a gritty, more desperate version of an early James Bond movie. Others sound like something the Beach Boys might sing if they struggled with existential depression (and it’s great, in case you’re wondering). Still others, like “Homicide,” feel plucked out of a modern-day Western. The common thread is an absolute absence of romanticization, which is a quality so rare it’s practically a unicorn. The duo plans to head to the studio in February to begin working on their third record together. —Elizabeth Pandolfi THURSDAY

BLUEGRASS PUNK | The Misery Jackals

Sat. Jan. 5

10 p.m.


The Mill

“Bluethrash” is Bill Corgan’s favorite term to describe what the Misery Jackals do. “When people ask you what do you play, what do you sound like, you have to articulate it somehow. Bluegrass punk, that works. But bluethrash — that’s a good one,” he says. The Jackals date back to 2007, when Corgan and three other musicians teamed up to play a mix of bluegrass, oompah, gypsy, punk, and about four other genres all rolled up into one tricky, rebellious ball. And though you can hear touches of all those styles in their songs, the two biggest influences are definitely punk and bluegrass. In “Misery Jackal,” for example, the angry-kid lyrics “It always makes me laugh / When I see people fall down / And when they start to cry / I love to hear the sound” are set to some double-time banjo and guitar strumming that would make an Appalachian grandpappy proud. The Jackals just put out their first full-length album, No Place for Children, in 2011, and they’re satisfied with that for now. “We’re not in any kind of big hurry [to record again],” says Corgan. “We don’t have any reason to put something out on a schedule because we don’t have a label trying to force a contract down our throats.” Now that’s a comment that both their punk rock and bluegrass forefathers would approve of. —Elizabeth Pandolfi NEXT SATURDAY

PUNK WORLD | T.C. Costello

Rachel Hatton

w/ The Corpses

Wed. Jan. 2

9 p.m.

The Sparrow

World music with a punk punch is odd enough, but when it’s played on an accordion, a 1920s marxophone, or Laos’ national folk instrument, the khaen, that takes things to another level. Singer/songwriter T.C. Costello started out playing guitar in a grunge and punk band, and found his somewhat surprising musical calling when he saw a performance by New Orleans’ folk-punk stars the Zydepunks. “They blew me away,” he says. “They had two accordion players, and I just loved everything they did.” So he got his own instrument and started writing. As for the punk aspect, that was unavoidable. “Everything I played sounded fast and aggressive, no matter what,” says Costello. So rather than fight it, he incorporated that punk ethos into his songs. It’s especially apparent in songs like “How I Will Spend My Early Thirties” and “Hangman Tree.” His influences range from Jewish and Eastern European folk songs to ancient South Korean music to the Pogues. “I figured if the Pogues were writing Celtic songs, I could write my own songs from all over the world,” he says. Whatever your expectations, prepare to be surprised. Learn more at tccostello.bandcamp.com. —Elizabeth Pandolfi NEXT WEDNESDAY

POWER-POP | A Fragile Tomorrow

w/ Amy Ray

Sat. Jan. 5

7 p.m.


The Windjammer

For anyone who knows the brothers behind jangly power-pop band A Fragile Tomorrow, the title of their upcoming album, Be Nice Be Careful, reflects their outlook on life. Three years ago, AFT performed for an arts awareness organization for people with disabilities. There they met a young artist with severe mental disabilities who presented a painting that struck a chord with the band. “The painting said, ‘Be nice, Be careful.’ It really stood out to us. We loved it,” says Dom Kelly. And so it was a natural fit for the band’s fourth release. AFT spent a month working with producer Mitch Easter in the studio, where they experimented with instruments like mandolins, piano, and a timpani. They’re still power pop at their core, but there’s a folksy tinge as well thanks to the influence of the Indigo Girls, whom they’ve toured with. “We weren’t afraid of being more political,” Kelly says. “My brother, Sean, wrote the song ‘Crooked Smiles and Greedy Hands’ along the same lines of what the Occupy Movement was about. It’s about injustices within our government and society, though it’s not outwardly political. You have to really listen to it and interpret it for yourself.” Kelly says AFT looks forward to their upcoming tour and the opportunities an international scene may bring. “We have a really extensive CD release tour planned in the next four months with a tour in Europe and we’re working on distribution in Japan,” Kelly says. —Libby Conwell NEXT SATURDAY

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