Among serious music geeks, At the Drive-In offshoot Sparta will probably forever been seen as the Ashley to the Mars Volta’s Mary-Kate, the latter considered the wilder, more dangerous counterpart to the former’s straighter tendencies. Yes, Olsen Twins references are what you get when you don’t do any press for your tour (Sparta aren’t talking the the media). The band’s 2002 debut, Wiretap Scars (DreamWorks), remains a chewy chunk of power-emo, closer to ATDI than they’d probably like to admit, which could explain the tight lips. THURSDAY, June 10 @ Lo-Fi Café, 127 S. West Temple, 8 p.m. Info: LoFiCafe.com (with All-State Champion and Engine Down).
“Hooks and smartly detailed character studies refracted through a dispassionate cool reminiscent of Aimee Mann,” goes just one of Los Angeles singer-songwriter Anny Celsi’s hundreds of critical raves, in this instance from the Pasadena Weekly. There’s one of these danged alt-weekly rags in Pasadena, too? Where will it end? Back to Celsi, she’s far more lively than Mann: Her country twangs brighter, her rock cuts deeper, her folk hues darker, her Little Black Dress & Other Stories (AnnyCelsi.com) CD is just that damn good. THURSDAY, June 10 @ Sugar House Coffee, 2106 S. 1100 East, 7 p.m. Info: 466-7007 (with Duane Jarvis).
MARY CHAPIN CARPENTER
“I have these urges that come over me all the time about just wanting to escape and go,” singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter says of one of the underlying themes of her latest, Between Here & Gone (Sony Nashville). “I don’t know where they come from. It takes a lot of courage to go, and it takes a lot of courage to stay.” Out for just over a month and already hailed as a stunning collection of adult Americana (roots music for grownups, non-radio programmers), Here & Gone makes a good case for both. THURSDAY, June 10 @ Red Butte Garden, 300 Wakara Way, 7 p.m. Tickets: 325-7328 (with Jim Lauderdale).
One of the handful of current country-pop artists who doesn’t make all twang purists gag on their Coors (howdy, Shania), Nashville’s Kenny Chesney had been on a steady climb for 10 years when No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problems hit in 2002. This year’s When the Sun Goes Down (BNA) stays the slick ‘n’ safe C& course, featuring a duet with Uncle Kracker on the title track—which almost explains why a former Kid Rock DJ is opening for a mainstream country star’s arena tour. Almost. FRIDAY, June 11 @ Usana Amphitheater, 5400 S. 6200 West, 7:30 p.m. Tickets: 800-888-8499 (with Rascal Flatts and Uncle Kracker).
If you showed up earlier than Utah Standard Time (15-30 minutes late) for May’s Dashboard Confessional concert, you may have caught New Jersey singer-songwriter Val Emmich opening the show. Reference names like Rufus Wainwright, Pete Yorn and even Joe Jackson have been dropped in Emmich’s surging advance buzz for Slow Down Kid (Epic), his major-label debut, but being cute and talented doesn’t solve everything. “I sometimes speak more clearly through my music,” he told YM. “Which is good in an artistic sense, but kind of crappy when you’re trying to build a relationship with someone.” FRIDAY, June 11 @ Kilby Court, 741 S. 330 West, 8 p.m. Info: 320-9887.
Unaffiliated with Johnny Knoxville, this Jackass is a SoCal country-punk-rock outfit whose two-stepping backbeat is provided by ex-Bad Religion drummer Pete Finestone—if he happens to like bashing himself in the nuts with a sledgehammer occasionally, cool. According to Jackass’ hyphen-crazy bio, their “rooster-stompin,’ knee-knockin,’ hip-swayin,’ cousin-swappin’ rock & roll” is akin to “Madonna on a gallon of moonshine, Johnny Cash on crack and the Backstreet Boys with two black eyes.” “Hank III covering the Reverend Horton Heat” will also do in a pinch. SATURDAY, June 12 @ Egos, 668 S. State, 9:30 p.m. Info: 521-5255 (with J.W. Blackout and Stunt Poets).
NEED NEW BODY
The Village Voice once described Philadelphia’s Need New Body as sounding “like a video game eating a funk band,” and they were underselling it. The cataclysmic collective’s new UFO (File 13), featuring such classic titles as “Gigglebush Meets Comp USA,” “Pisscat” and “Make Gay Love Not War,” is the kind of genre-shredding insanity that could stand on its own with Frank Zappa freaks; live and in-person, NNB is said to amp the intensity up a thousand theatrical notches for a show that’s “difficult to define, laborious to replicate and eccentric to experience.” TUESDAY, June 15 @ Kilby Court, 741 S. 330 West, 8 p.m. Info: 320-9887 (with Hella).
Alt-country roots-rock from Brooklyn? One spin of the Damnwells’ excellent full-length debut, Bastards of the Beat (Epic), will effectively wipe out any big-city preconceptions—drummer Steven Terry’s previous stint with the late Whiskytown (you know, Ryan Adams’ old band) doesn’t hurt, either. Like the Replacements, Soul Asylum, Wilco, the Jayhawks and others who’ve majestically jangled before them, the Damnwells specialize in heartbroken laments with nicotine-stained vocals and ragged-perfect guitars delivered via rave-ups, ballads and dreamy pop soundscapes with equal conviction. A don’t-miss, in other words. WEDNESDAY, June 16 @ Lo-Fi Café, 127 S. West Temple, 8 p.m. Info: LoFiCafe.com (with the Pleased, the Shore and SuperSoFar).
THE ROCKET SUMMER
It’s another one of those multi-instrumental, multi-talented singular singer-songwriters working under the umbrella of a band name, kids! Securing a loan from dad, Dallas’ Bryce Avary wrote and recorded all of the ultra-bright Calendar Days (Militia Group) himself, and now he’s bringing his sunny indie-pop to the masses. “I do want this to get bigger,” Avary told the Dallas Observer. “I just really want to go out and play for as many people as I can, just be a light in a dark place.” WEDNESDAY, June 16 @ In the Venue, 579 W. 200 South, 7 p.m. Tickets: 800-888-8499 (with Plain White Ts and No. 1 Fan).
The Streets (Harry O’s, June 18). Richmond Fontaine (Egos, June 20). The Living End (In the Venue, June 22). Asylum Street Spankers (Halo, June 23). Utah Arts Festival (Library Square, June 24-27). 311, The Roots (Usana Amphitheater, June 25). Beloved (DV8, June 28). The Dead (Usana Amphitheater, June 29). South Austin Jug Band (Gallivan Center, June 30). Rush (Usana Amphitheater, June 30). Legendary Pink Dots (In the Venue, July 1). Josh Todd (Egos, July 3). Clutch (Lo-Fi Café, July 7). MC 5, Supagroup (Egos, July 7).