THURSDAY JAN. 16
T Bird & the Breaks
Wherever they go, Austin, Texas-based funk-rock band T Bird & the Breaks leave their audiences sweaty, smiling and partied out. With their infectious, in-your-face, big-brass sound, T Bird & the Breaks turn every floor into a dance floor, and light up the stage with their hip-shakin' blend of funk, rock, hip-hop and blues. The get-down is led by frontman T Bird, with his warm and gritty voice, and lots of saxophone and backing female vocals give albums like Never Get Out of This Funk Alive-releasedin 2011-a humid mood that sounds like a slice of New Orleans. T Bird & the Breaks have been releasing only singles (like "The Big E.Z.," which includes a cool nod to the old Southern folk ditty "Iko Iko") for the past while, but their third full-length studio album, Harmonizm,will be coming out sometime this year. The Sly All Stars will open.
The State Room, 638 S. State, 8 p.m., $10, TheStateRoom.com; limited no-fee tickets available at CityWeeklyStore.com
It's safe to say that there are few bands as skilled as Los Angeles psych/Western-rock quartet Spindrift in hooking the listener and transporting them to an entirely different time and place. Their reverb-heavy, Spaghetti Western-influenced guitar chords and band founder Kirpatrick Thomas' booming voice sound like the soundtrack to the West itself, in the wild days of roving banditos, boomtowns and shoot-first sheriffs. For their new album, Ghost of the West-releasedin 2013-Spindrift visited and performed at several ghost towns in the western states, then included recordings of the shows in the final versions of the songs to capture the mood of those desolate locations. The result is space-y, dusty, haunting and expansive, just like the West. Check out "Ghost Riders in the Sky" and "The Matador & the Fuzz." Super 78s will start things off.
ABG's, 190 W. Center St., Provo, 9:30 p.m., $8, ABGsBar.com; also Jan. 18, The Garage, 1199 Beck St., 9 p.m., $10, GarageOnBeck.com
The Speed of Sound in Seawater
California indie/math-rock/hardcore band The Speed of Sound in Seawater creates music that reflects the soothing folk/indie vibe of artists like Bon Iver, but also displays a sharper, almost tropical sound similar to Vampire Weekend. Their lyrics reveal the band's obsession with the supernatural, covering a variety of dark topics including a sleepover Ouija board session gone wrong in "Apples to Apples, Dust to Dust," as well as a sketchy game of hide & seek with the undead in "The Macabray." "I've always had trouble writing lyrics about the 'real world,' " says guitarist and vocalist Damien Verret in an interview with Yellow Version & My Ghost of a Dog. "I've always cast my vote in favor of the supernatural." Eidola; And I, the Lion; and Red Bennies are also on the bill. (Hilary Packham)
The Shred Shed, 60 E. Exchange Place (360 South), 7 p.m., $10, ShredShedSLC.com
Lawrence, Kan.-based singer-songwriter Matt Pryor has a lot of music to share with the world. He's probably best-known as the frontman of mid-'90s alt-rock/emo band The Get Up Kids, as well as indie band The New Amsterdams, but he's also an accomplished solo artist, penning his tunes with the same emotional clarity and keen songwriting voice that made his bands so popular. Solo, Pryor explores his more folksy side, as heard on his latest album, Wrist Slitter-releasedin fall 2013-which features 12 easyon-the-ears tracks about complicated topics like love and loss. Punk-fueled songs like "Won't Speak to Me" keep things from ever getting sleepy. The Glass Gentleman and Matthew Quen Nanes will start things off.
Kilby Court, 741 S. Kilby Court (330 West), 8 p.m., $12 in advance, $14 day of show, KilbyCourt. com; limited no-fee tickets available at CityWeeklyStore.com
FRIDAY JAN. 17
Sometimes it's easy to forget that music is made by people, in a very physical way. That's not just a nice note or beat appearing out of nowhere; a human is using their fingers to strum a few strings that are attached to a piece of wood, and another human is hitting a drumhead stretched over a round frame. In Seattle garage-rock/R&B band Pickwick's music video for their song "Halls of Columbia"-from their latest album, Can't Talk Medicine, released in March 2013-the band does what appears to be an impromptu performance on a crowded sidewalk, and it's fascinating to watch what it takes for each of the six musicians to create ear-pleasing sounds with their guitars, horns and percussion. It's also cool to see the near convulsions frontman Galen Disston goes through to spit out lyrics with his unique voice, which jumps between screechy yelps and smooth R&B. Wildcat Strike and Modern Kin are also on the bill.
The Urban Lounge, 241 S. 500 East, 9 p.m., $12, TheUrbanLoungeSLC.com; limited no-feetickets available at CityWeeklyStore.com
SATURDAY JAN. 18
The world of TV has been loving local singer-songwriter Joshua James' music lately. His protest song "Crash This Train" was heard in the final montage on the "Sweet & Vaded" episode of Sons of Anarchy in October-he's had so many songs on the show's soundtracks that it's often how people are first exposed to his music- and his piano-centric beauty "Surrender," from his 2012 album From the Top of Willamette Mountain (Northplatte Records), was featured on an episode of Pretty Little Liars earlier this month. It's no surprise, really: His incredible Americana/folk songs have the ability to convey the thorny emotions of characters in only a few lyrics, and his powerful voice makes you hang onto his every word. James also had a new album come out in November, titled Well, Then, I'll Go to Hell,which is all covers of Modest Mouse (one of his favorite bands) songs-check out his minimal, jawdroppingly lovely take on "Gravity Rides Everything." Armon Jay will open.
The Urban Lounge, 241 S. 500 East, 9 p.m., $15, TheUrbanLoungeSLC.com
SUNDAY JAN. 19
Watching Seattle-born musician Robert DeLong create his genre-defying electro songs is like watching a magician at work. Using a variety of MIDI interfaces, a drum set, drum pads, video-game controllers, laptops, keyboards and microphones, DeLong builds his songs up from just a few simple drum or vocal loops into mind-bending dance masterpieces. He then sings over the instrumentation with his mellow, dreamlike voice, to beats that blend moombahton (house music + reggaeton) and EDM. One of the highlights of his new album, Just Movement-releasedin February 2013-is the track "Global Concepts." It starts out coolly electronic (kind of like a Postal Service song), and then he weaves in intoxicatingly tropical drumbeats that are impossible not to move to. Audio Treats will open.
Kilby Court, 741 S. Kilby Court (330 West), 8 p.m., $13 in advance, $15 day of show, KilbyCourt. com; limited no-fee tickets available at CityWeeklyStore.com
WEDNESDAY JAN. 22
The Guard Cats
The music created by local band The Guard Cats doesn't fit neatly into a genre. Michael Wright (beats/synths) uses the words "electro" and "garage rock" to loosely describe the band's sound, and confirms that there is "definitely a raw rock dance vibe" going on. The Salt Lake duo-William Lapthorne (guitar/ vocals) completes the lineup-is like a more electronically charged Killers and a less superficial Metro Station. But whatever they sound like, The Guard Cats are set in a sweet spot of potential popularity. "Spacecar" sounds like an epic video game, and just like the former, is a prolonged escape from reality. With hypnotizing guitar melodies and Mario Cart-esquebleeps and blips, it takes you into the realm of a hard-core technological fantasy. Gravital and Parchment will open. (Hilary Packham)
Kilby Court, 741 S. Kilby Court (330 West), 8 p.m., $6, KilbyCourt.com