Rock | For What It’s Worth
w/ With Intent, Fusebox Poet, Shotgun Opera, Death is a Dialogue, Amherst
Sat. Sept. 1
Music Farm

It’s been a year and a half since singer John Llewellyn and drummer Wade Szezkoof (both previously of Blindsyght ) hooked up with guitarist Mohsen Roudsari and bassist Jason Tucker (both of Virgil Kain) to form For What It’s Worth, an aggressive, guitar-heavy outfit. Last spring, with new bassist John McConnell on board, the foursome competed in 98 Rock’s two-month Battle of the Bands and earned a spot at the station’s annual RockFest at the Exchange Park Fairgrounds. This summer, For What It’s Worth shared the stage at the Music Farm with alt-rock group Crossfade, performing in front of one of their largest club audiences so far. Llewellyn knows that landing these choice gigs are the key to For What It’s Worth’s success. “We’re hoping to get on the bill of any big show that comes through town this fall,” Llewellyn says. “That’s a way for us to prove ourselves and show the promoters and venues that we can bring a good crowd and play a solid set.” This fall, Llewellyn and company will head to James Island’s Ocean Industries to record. Visit musicfarm.com for more. —T. Ballard Lesemann

Electro-Folk | King of Spain
Thu. Aug. 30
The Tin Roof

Matt Slate has a history of making life more difficult than it needs to be, but he’s changing that. The Tampa-based singer/songwriter christened his solo project King of Spain, only to find out a few years later that a band in the U.K. had the same name. Fortunately, the competing outfits don’t sound much alike — the U.K. band is lo-fi rock, whereas Tampa’s Spain is lush and atmospheric — but Slate says that their “releases tend to get jumbled together in iTunes anyways.” Consider the people who do stumble across Tampa’s King of Spain the lucky ones then, particularly now that Slate has joined forces with singer/songwriter Daniel Wainwright. The two began playing together in 2009, and are finally releasing King of Spain’s second record, All I Did Was Tell Them the Truth and They Thought It Was Hell this week. Adding Wainwright to the mix has given the band more focus, Slate says. “Having two songwriters keeps us honest. We are constantly pushing each other to make each song the best it can be.” And after 15 years as a guitarist in other people’s bands, Slate himself is finally settling into the spotlight. For the first few years as a solo artist, he would play with his eyes closed. “It was quite frightening at first, but over the last four years I’ve become much more comfortable with this role,” Slate says. “It finally feels natural for me.” —Andrea Warner

ALT-COUNTRY | American Aquarium
w/ Sons of Bill
Sun. Sept. 2
The Windjammer

For a guy whose songs seem to get more depressingly introspective with each album, BJ Barham, the lead singer and songwriter for American Aquarium, is incredibly upbeat about the band’s latest, Burn. Flicker. Die., which comes out this week. “It’s by far my favorite record that we’ve done,” he says. Barham and the Raleigh, N.C.-based band have made a name for themselves by playing more than 300 shows a year for the last three years, and have been described as “a country band with a punk-rock mentality.” The band feels at home on the road, Barham says, although most of the songs on the new record seem to focus on the hardships the road presents and semi-existential questions about girls, drugs, drinking, and the touring lifestyle. “It’s about consequences, pushing 30, wondering what the hell we’re doing, if you made the right decision,” he says. “Sometimes, especially on this record, it makes me look like a giant asshole. I get a lot of good and bad criticism for being too honest, but no one’s ever said I’m fakin it.” Burn. Flicker. Die. was recorded in Muscle Shoals, Ala. and produced by Jason Isbell, who Barham describes as “one of my top five songwriters.” For more information, visit the-windjammer.com. —Jared Booth

NOTE: The Deadstring Brothers were scheduled to perform at Surf Bar on Aug. 31, but they had to cancel the show after the drummer’s grandmother passed away.