MARK KOZELEK, THE STATE ROOM, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 8 p.m., $24
If the name Mark Kozelek doesn’t immediately ring a bell, there’s a decent chance you know some of the music the Bay Area folk troubadour has produced under the names Red House Painters or Sun Kil Moon. Through the years, he’s released searing songs that can be as beautifully produced as they are hard to shake after hearing them. Even his Sun Kill Moon album of all-Modest Mouse covers was a must-listen, proving Kozelek is as engaging performing others’ music as he is doing his own. After three releases in 2013 under his own name, Kozelek returned to the Sun Kil Moon name for last year’s Benji. Expect a wide-ranging set when Kozelek plays The State Room this week.
KING TUFF, KILBY COURT, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 7 p.m., $12
King Tuff is destined to be one of the best shows of the winter, and since its in the cozy confines of Kilby Court, you’ll want to get there early to get a primo spot to watch Kyle Thomas, the man behind the band, delve into the lo-fi garage mayhem that fills King Tuff’s albums. The most recent release, Black Spell Moon, is a glorious, slippery beast of bluesy electric mayhem full of killer grooves and reverb. It’s glammy, it’s sloppy, it’s refreshingly rock-centric among of a see of folk-strumming King Tuff contemporaries. Given that Black Spell Moon is just Thomas’s second full-length, expect a serious dose of the new goods at the show.
THE TOASTERS, BAR DELUXE, Saturday, Jan. 24, 8 p.m., $10
Sure, the Toasters haven’t released a ton of new music of late. Doesn’t matter. These guys are one of the longest-running American ska bands, going all the way back to the early ’80s in New York City, and fans can still hear the classic 2-Tone ska sound whenever they play. Leader Robert “Bucket” Hingley was a Brit living in NYC when the Beat came through town, inspiring him to fire up his own band. He filled out the lineup with other employees of the comic book store where he worked, and the Toasters’ first gig was opening for punk legends Bad Brains. It was an auspicious start to a long career of getting people skanking coast to coast, and bands like No Doubt and Mighty Mighty Bosstones owe them a huge debt. Hingley is the only original member, but he’s all you need. Sturgeon General and Bombshell Academy open the show.
HELL’S BELLES, THE URBAN LOUNGE, Friday, Jan. 23 and Saturday, Jan. 24, 9 p.m., $20
Back when Hell’s Belles first started rocking their Seattle hometown crowds with their wicked fun versions of AC/DC songs, Salt Lake City was one of the first cities the ladies took their show on the road to visit. In no time, the Belles were selling out clubs in Zion just like they did at home. The reason was obvious — AC/DC’s tunes are familiar to even the most casual of rock fans, and in the hands of a bunch of energetic young musicians who love to entertain, they came to renewed life. The band has had some lineup changes through the years, just like the real thing, but Adrian “Angus Young” Conner remains, shredding and stripping down from her schoolboy outfit just like the elder Angus. And now they have a real Aussie on lead vocals in Amber Saxon, who tackles the style of both Bon Scott and Brian Johnson.
GUSTER, THE DEPOT, Friday, Jan. 23, 8 p.m., $30
With more than two decades together as a band since forming in Boston, it would be easy for Guster to be coasting on its strong catalog of winning alt-pop. Instead, for their new album Evermotion, the group decided to make some dramatic changes, both in how it works and how it sounds. First, they tracked down uber-producer Richard Swift, best known perhaps for his work with Damian Jurado or for playing bass alongside the Black Keys, and hunkered down in his Oregon studio. Then they largely put their guitar sound on the backburner, choosing to focus on serious drum grooves and keyboards on the new songs. The resulting set is both more expansive in sound than ever before, and raw thanks to Swift’s rapid way of recording and moving on quickly to the next tune. One thing that certainly hasn’t changed is Guster’s way with a live show–they are solid every time.
CASH’D OUT, THE STATE ROOM, Saturday, Jan. 17, 9 p.m., $15
If you’re skeptical of tribute acts, you have good reason. There are plenty of people out there playing the music of legends who shouldn’t be allowed to. That makes finding a worthy tribute all the more fun, because when done right, you get a great night out, some awesome music, and at least a little of the magic of the original artist. Cash’d Out has been doing Johnny Cash, and doing him well, for a decade now, playing to more than 1.2 million people in the process and earning the respect of Cash’s “people” in the process. The band has more than 150 Cash songs in its arsenal, and they can knock out a fine live show on demand, just like the Man in Black always could. Whether you love Cash’s old Sun Records stuff, or later live albums, you’ll find something to satisfy at the Cash’d Out show.
DEMETRI MARTIN, WISEGUYS WEST VALLEY CITY, Friday, Jan. 16, 7:30 & 10 p.m., $35
For at least a decade now, comedian Demetri Martin has seemed like a man on the verge of a serious mainstream breakthrough, yet if you ask the average Joe or Jane, they probably don’t know him by name. Perhaps if you showed them a picture of the age-defying Martin, they might recognize the shock of brown hair from one of his acting gigs in movies like Taking Woodstock or In A World. Maybe they recall his hour-long standup special from clicking through Comedy Central. If you’re unfamiliar with his comedy stylings, there’s good reason to fix that. If you can find videos of his short-lived TV series Important Things with Demetri Martin, they’ll well worth a watch. And his best-selling book, This Is a Book by Demetri Martin, is a gem as well. The easiest way to get to know him? Go see Martin at one of his two shows in SLC Friday. You won’t be sorry.