COUNTRY | Eli Young Band
w/ Darius Rucker, David Nail
Thurs. Feb. 20
7 p.m.
North Charleston Performing Arts Center

It pays to be nice because you never know who will help your career. The Eli Young Band struck up a friendship in the early ’00s with Miranda Lambert when both were Texas country acts just scraping by. The guys in the band wound up not only opening for Lambert, they signed with her producer Frank Liddell’s label. Liddell subsequently produced the group’s major label debut, 2008’s Jet Black & Jealous. The quartet’s light, twangy rock blends pop balladry, Texas-bred attitude, and country-rock guitars. In a way, they sound like Foreigner, if only that band had grown up on Pat Green and Trace Adkins. Frontman Mike Eli’s airy forlorn baritone seems built for heartbroken pop ballads. “Keep on dreaming,” he counsels on “Even If It Breaks Your Heart,” and he attests his mad love on the waltzing “Crazy Girl.” Both songs were chart-topping singles off 2011’s Life at Best. Eli and company recently scored another No. 1 with the equally wistful “Drunk Last Night,” the lead single off the gang’s forthcoming fifth album, 10,000 Towns. —Chris Parker THURSDAY

CAPITAL-R ROCK | Death on Two Wheels
w/ Zonaea, Filmstrip
Fri. Feb. 21
9 p.m.
Tin Roof

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well — that as much as anything explains the five years between Death on Two Wheels’ first album and their second. The Atlanta rockers endured several lineup changes and a painstaking recording process between the two discs, but in November they finally released their self-titled second record. The new LP draws on the same touchstones as Death’s 2008 disc, Separation of Church and Fate; it’s also grittier and more muscular. On the self-titled LP, the boys in this bloozey, mud-caked, and country-rock outfit take inspiration from Clutch and Mudhoney, Thin Lizzy and Drive-By Truckers. “I feel like we took the better parts of the first album,” says Death on Two Wheels singer-guitarist Trae Vedder. According to Vedder, the first three tracks from the new LP — the slithery psych-funker “Sadie,” the swamp blues boogie number “Hey Hey Hey,” and the garage-grunge chugger “Calling Us All Back Home” — laid out a template for the rest of the album. “Those songs, for me, shaped where I was heading,” Vedder says. “And obviously the Southern gothic element plays into all those songs. Lyrically, that’s where I feel at home.” —Chris Parker FRIDAY

GARAGE COUNTRY | Drag the River
w/ Chris Wollard & the Ship Thieves
Sat. Feb. 22
8 p.m.
Tin Roof

Does anyone still have the same passion for music 20 years after they first began? The guys in Colorado’s Drag the River do. Last year’s eponymous release crackles, aches, and dies on the vine with a desperate intensity made all the more devastating because the guys in Drag the River have learned how to twist the blade. Over crunchy garage-country and sour two-step twang, they revisit the “Ghosts of High School,” raise a high-five to the bottom-dwellers (“Here’s to the Losers”), and find a moment of acoustic-and-pedal steel peace on “The Other Side of OK.” From the opening track, “Wichita Skyline,” with its repeated mantra “deliver me home,” there’s a sense of being taken for a ride, its sad truths unfolding as a reminder of life’s capriciousness. The Fort Collins cow punks have had a somewhat tumultuous run over the years — they actually called it quits six year ago — but their failure is our good fortune. The new record is wonderfully wrought and poignantly downcast yet strangely hopeful. —Chris Parker SATURDAY

RETRO SOUL | Mayer Hawthorne
w/ Quadron
Mon. Feb. 24
8 p.m.
$18/adv., $20/door
Music Farm

Soul’s a tricky genre to pull off. Its highly stylized emotion-laden ballads can easily go from heartfelt confessions to formulaic schmaltz. Lately Mayer Hawthorne has danced along this line. Initially, Hawthorne began singing and recording soul songs as a lark, but that diversion quickly turned into a career thanks to a public hungry for the retro-cool sounds of Amy Winehouse and Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. Hawthorne’s 2009 debut, A Strange Arrangement, was firmly in the same late ’60s hipster vein as Jones’ Daptone label mates, but by 2011’s breakthrough How Do You Do, there were hints of ’70s blue-eyed soul — think Hall & Oates — amidst the classic Motown-inspired sound. By 2013’s Where Does This Door Go, Hawthorne had taken another step away from the soul source, pursuing a dancier, more polished ’80s pop sound. “The Innocent” evokes Steve Miller’s “Abacadabra” filtered through Steely Dan. “Wine Glass Women” blends a similar jazz-fusion sound with falsetto-loverman soul, while the hand-clapping “Robot Love” sounds like something Kool & the Gang might make. Each one of Hawthorne’s albums have sold better than its predecessor, so he must be doing something right. —Chris Parker MONDAY

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