Live Music Roundup: Thursday, August 13

The Dutchess and the Duke
The CD release party for Ball of Wax 17 happens at the Sunset Tavern tonight. If you have not yet availed yourself of the Ball of Wax compilations, why, that's a shame, because over the past few years, these awesome little mixes have contained songs by bands that you're probably familiar with now (the Pica Beats and Sleepy Eyes of Death, for example). The $7 cover charge comes with a copy of the new CD, and the show starts at 9 p.m.

The Battle of the Beards also takes place tonight, in which Sir Thomas Gray and Terry Radjaw will go head to head in a basketball game (on the Funhouse's basketball court, a place often reserved for smoking of cigarettes and other things). The loser will be forced to shave off his bushy beard. You can read Jonathan Cunningham's feature on tonight's smackdown here.

The Dutchess and the Duke, Fences, Charles Leo Gebhardt IV at the Tractor Tavern, 9 p.m., $12

One of the most infallible signs of genius pop songwriting occurs when the writer expresses a common--if not universal--human emotion, using phrasing that sounds so classic and familiar that the listener is convinced they've already heard the sentiment expressed elsewhere. Dutchess and the Duke mastermind Jesse Lortz has this gift in such a rich degree that one fears it has a brief shelf life. When he and his collaborator Kimberly Morrison harmonize on the line "I can't win, I can't lose, and everything I do is wrong" on the opening track, "Hands", it's at equal turns optimistic, downtrodden, and fiercely forthright. The duo's sophomore album Sunrise/Sunset is so strong, it gives off a whiff of potency that makes you want to pay attention, simply because something this beautiful can't possibly endure beyond this release. I'd love to be wrong, because this is easily one of the best local records of the year. HANNAH LEVIN

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