The old cliche about a singer being great enough to make even the phone book sound compelling definitely applies to Heather McEntire. With guitarist Jenks Miller (best-known for the experimental metal band Horseback), McEntire makes up Mount Moriah, a country-rock band cool enough to proudly evoke everything from back-porch countrified gospel twang to the Allman Brothers on Miracle Temple (Merge Records). McEntires voice is a beguiling centerpiece on all 12 songs, an emotional quaver rich in feeling without ever veering into overwrought. Mount Moriahs self-titled 2011 debut was certainly impressive, but Miracle Temple is a major step forward. The band will show it off Friday at Cats Cradle, with Mac McCaughan and Airstrip opening. See catscradle.com for details.
Other highlights • Speaking of twangy tones, Friday also brings the Backsliders and Tonk to the stage of Kings in Raleigh; Fitz and the Tantrums play Saturday at Saxapahaw’s Haw River Ballroom; also Saturday, Grammy-winning childrens-music group Okee Dokee Brothers play the Carrboro ArtsCenter, Son Volt eases into the Cradle, singer-songwriter Jeanne Jolly holds forth at Chapel Hill’s Local 506 and Hammer No More the Fingers crank it at Durham’s Casbah; venerable jam band Rusted Root plays Raleigh’s Southland Ballroom on Sunday; and the even-more-venerable punk icon Bob Mould, who is still as loud and catchy as ever, plays the Cradle on Thursday.