On the Beat

Rock Picks, June 5: Courtney Barnett opens for Alabama Shakes

Courtney Barnett’s music is a throwback to ’90s-era grunge, with arrangements built on epic-sounding hooks. She plays Wednesday in Cary as opener for Alabama Shakes at Booth Amphitheatre.
Courtney Barnett’s music is a throwback to ’90s-era grunge, with arrangements built on epic-sounding hooks. She plays Wednesday in Cary as opener for Alabama Shakes at Booth Amphitheatre. Getty Images for Tumblr

Courtney Barnett is modest to a fault, even down to the title of her first album – “Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit” (Mom & Pop Records). Aside from a few quiet change-of-pace ballads, the music is a throwback to ’90s-era grunge, with arrangements built on epic-sounding hooks. But these 11 songs wouldn’t register as strongly as they do without Barnett’s Australian drawl, which is somehow both arresting and casual enough to pass for conversational.

Barnett plays Wednesday in Cary as opener for Alabama Shakes at Booth Amphitheatre. Gates open at 6 p.m., music starts at 7:30 and there’s every chance Barnett will steal the show. Tickets are $35-$45, see boothamphitheatre.com for details.

Other highlights

▪ Singer/songwriter Greg Hawks unveils his fine new album “What Goes Around” (greghawksmusic.com), which is a fine slice of Americana, Friday at Carrboro ArtsCenter.

▪ Rising twang-circuit star Parker Millsap opens for St. Paul & the Broken Bones Saturday at Raleigh’s Lincoln Theatre, which also has steel-guitar deity Robert Randolph on Sunday. American Aquarium headlines Sunday’s Midtown Music Fest at North Hills in Raleigh.

▪ Tuesday brings Taylor Swift to Raleigh’s PNC Arena, Doobie Brother Michael McDonald to Durham’s Carolina Theatre and the pop pairing of Third Eye Blind and Dashboard Confessional to Raleigh’s Red Hat Amphitheater.

▪ Duke’s Music in the Gardens series has the first of this summer’s Music Maker Relief Foundation blues showcases Wednesday with Cool John Ferguson and Sam Frazier Jr.

▪ And Thursday is a stylish night: “Slow Train Coming” at Carrboro ArtsCenter with Skylar Gudasz, Jeff Crawford, members of Mount Moriah and others paying tribute to the 1979 Bob Dylan album; avant-garde Southern guitarist Col. Bruce Hampton at Raleigh’s Southland Ballroom; Jim White vs. Packway Handle Band and another Australian, Darren Hanlon, at American Tobacco’s Back Porch series in Durham; and Mumford & Sons’ current banjo-free incarnation at Raleigh’s Walnut Creek.

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