STURGILL SIMPSON, THE STATE ROOM, Friday, Nov. 28, 9 p.m., sold out
You might have heard some of the well-deserved hype around rising country star Sturgill Simpson, recently named “Emerging Artist of the Year” at the 2014 Americana Honors & Awards, but did you know he also has some significant history in Salt Lake City? According to a Wall Street Journal article published in May, he was drinking heavily back home in Kentucky after a stint in the Navy when a buddy scored him a job in Salt Lake City working for Union Pacific. Not only did the hard work help dry him out; Simpson also met his now-wife, who encouraged him to get back into music by buying him a little home-recorder and booking him some shows around town. Eventually, they sold everything they had and moved to Nashville, where he’s since released two albums of stirring tunes that give “country” a good name. This show is sold out, but if you can find a ticket online or from a scalper the night of the show, do it! Lucette opens the show.
SALLIE FORD, THE URBAN LOUNGE, Monday, Nov. 24, 9 p.m., $10
You might recall Sallie Ford from past visits with her former band The Sound Outside, a crew that had a distinct bit of twang and a rockabilly vibe at times. If you’re a fan of that “old” Ford sound, chances are you’ll like her new project, too. But you can consider her a whole new thing and be right on the money as well. The songs on Slap Back, her solo debut, were crafted by Ford and a new all-girl band, and veers out of the honky tonk and into surf, garage-rock, even some punk-sounding tunes. Ford considers the album an “ode to all the babe rockers” like Pat Benatar and PJ Harvey, Exene Cervenka and Joan Jett. Can’t blame a girl for trying to sound like those ladies. Strong Words open the show.
CHRISSIE HYNDE, THE DEPOT, Monday, Nov. 24, 7:30 p.m., $40
Simply put, there’s no good excuse for missing Chrissie Hynde when she hits Salt Lake City — even on a Monday night. The long-time leader of The Pretenders still sounds great live, and her recent solo album, Stockholm, could easily have been another Pretenders album if she chose to go that way. Like her past work, the songs on Stockholm veer from traditional, straightforward rock to punk to some folky balladry here and there. Word is she’ll be doing songs from the solo debut, as well as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame catalog she created with The Pretenders. Getting to see her in a bar, even a large one, is a dream-come-true situation for some of us. The Rails open the show.
JUDAS PRIEST, MAVERIK CENTER, Tuesday, Nov. 18, 7:30 p.m., $39.50-$59.50
I can recommend this show using a couple of different lines of thinking. The first one is the most obvious — Judas Priest are true rock ‘n’ roll legends, old-school heavy metal guys who have been plying their sound since the ’70s. And it’s a sound that’s instantly recognizable, thanks to the band’s twin guitars and lead singer Rob Halford’s distinct howl — they don’t call him the Metal God for nothing. Another reason to go is that the band actually has a new album this year, Redeemer of Souls, so this isn’t just another oldies metal band on the road; the Priest is out there with new songs. Of course, you’ll still hear all the classics like “Breaking the Law” and “Living After Midnight.” Some might quibble that it’s not the “classic” Priest lineup since guitarist K.K. Downing in 2011, but it’s sure to still be a raucous good time. Steel Panther opens the show.
RUN THE JEWELS, THE URBAN LOUNGE, Monday, Nov. 17, 9 p.m., $20
The hip-hop duo made up of El-P and Killer Mike is doing things altogether differently when it comes to their career, and it’s working perfectly. Both men are insanely creative entities in their own right, capable of busting out solo albums, but together their powers are magnified, as evidenced by the two excellent albums they’ve released so far. The tunes are sparse, with El-P providing production that is in turns harrowing, buoyant or mind-boggling. The same goes for Killer Mike’s lyrical flow, a rapid-fire stream of thoughts and verbal salvos that is a blast to listen to — on repeat. Ratking and Despot open the show. They also approach the business side of music in a different way — both Run the Jewels’ albums arrived via a free download, giving both hardcore fans and casual observers the chance to hear some of the best hip-hop of the year.
DAVID BAZAN AND THE PASSENGER STRING QUARTET, THE STATE ROOM, Monday, Nov. 17, 8 p.m., $21
David Bazan has one of the most distinct songwriting voices around, one that’s remained unwavering in its ability to convey emotion even as the man himself suffered through personal and spiritual crises. Perhaps best known for his decade of leading Pedro the Lion, Bazan ditched that name years ago, releasing subsequent new music in his own name and under the Headphones moniker. His latest album teams Bazan with the classical experimentalists Passenger String Quartet, inspired by a one-night live collaboration a couple of years back. Duly impressed with the results, they hit the studio and recorded a set of songs spanning Bazan’s career, creating a perfect melding of old and new. David Dondero opens the show, and should provide a perfect appetizer for Bazan’s show.
THE WYTCHES, KILBY COURT, Thursday, Nov. 13, 7:30 p.m., $8
If you can find a tastier batch of psych-tinged garage-rock from a younger group of cats than The Wytches, I’d sure like to hear it. The English band’s Annabel Dream Reader album, released in August, is a blast from a rock-y past, full of hooks and aggression. It’s hard to imagine how these youngsters came to sound like some ’60s crew straight off the Nuggets compilation, but so it goes. They met as students in college, and eventually formed a surf-rock sound that got the notice of Fat Possum records in the states, who released a single about a year ago. They signed with Partisan Records in the U.S. last winter to put out a full-length, and the glorious result was recorded in two days with former Coral guitarist Bill Ryder-Jones. If you’re a fan of old Jesus and Mary Chain, this group could be for you. Max Pain and the Groovies open.