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SLCene Suggests: Jane Lynch at the Eccles Center


JANE LYNCH, ECCLES CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS, Park City, Wed., Dec. 31, 8 p.m., $40-$165

After years of stand-out performances in indie flicks like Best in Show and genuine blockbusters like The 40-Year-Old  Virgin, people finally started figuring out that Jane Lynch is a name that needed to be remembered among America’s great comedic actresses. Most of the credit goes to her role as the acerbic Sue Sylvester on the saccharine teen-soap Glee, which gave Lynch an outlet to bring a delightful nastiness to the proceedings–while also showing some genuine warmth at (very) select moments. The show also gave Lynch an outlet for her considerable singing chops, which makes her one-woman show The Anti-Cabaret Cabaret Show appearing at Park City’s Eccles Center on New Year’s Eve a must-see. How often does a comedy show give you a chance to sing along to some classic American standards, or does a concert give you genuine reason to laugh out loud?


My favorite 10 albums of 2014


There have been several times when I found myself struggling to come up with 10 albums for a year-end list, even when these sorts of lists are basically meaningless. But in 2014, I’m happy to report it was a genuine challenge to whittle down the list of releases I liked to just 10. As always, these are merely the 10 albums I listened to the most while I drove around, or toiled at work, or simply sat and wallowed in glorious sounds and lyrics. Lots of old favorites hitting new career peaks, along with a couple of relative newbies who I’m excited to follow as they mature.

Here ya go:

10. Ex Hex, RipsThis band seems genetically engineered for my personal enjoyment. A power-pop trio with punky riffs and attitude led by former Helium and Wild Flag singer/guitarist Mary Timony, this album blows by in a blink, in a most enjoyable way.

9. The New Pornographers, Brill BruisersI had lost a little of my enthusiasm for New Pornographers a bit over their past couple albums, preferring the solo work of members Neko Case, AC Newman and Dan Bejar (aka Destroyer). Brill Bruisers got me right back to the obsession I had when I heard their debut.

8. Spoon, They Want My SoulThese guys are 20+ years into their career, and I still feel like they Austin crew’s brand of groovy rock is underappreciated. Like New Pornographers, I’d cooled a bit on Britt Daniel and Co., but came back around with this album, one that’s solid top to bottom.

7. Run The Jewels, Run The Jewels 2. For the second year in a row, Killer Mike and El-P put out my favorite hip-hop album of the year (and via free download again, too!). The real-world racial strife that overcame the American news this year only emphasized their socially conscious lyrics all the more, and the slammin’ fun tracks just rule.

6. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Hypnotic EyeI hadn’t really been sucked in to a new Tom Petty album since Wildflowers, but this collection recorded with the Heartbreakers touches on everything he and the band do well, from garage-rock stompers to some beautiful balladry.

5. Afghan Whigs, Do The Beast. This album was probably the most pleasant surprise of the year for me. Long ago disbanded and left for dead as singer/lyricist extraordinaire Greg Dulli moved on with Twilight Singers, the Afghan Whigs returned with a vibrant set of songs just a bit more complex than their early-years work, both musically and emotionally.

4. St. Vincent, St. VincentA jaw-dropping evolution from someone who was already pretty great. St. Vincent (aka Annie Clark) turned into an art-rock force in 2014 with songs that pulsed with life–and Clark’s jarringly shred-friendly guitar work.

3. Drive-By Truckers, English Oceans. More Cooley! That’s something a lot of us Truckers fans have wanted for a long time–more songs from guitarist Mike Cooley in the mix alongside acknowledged workhorse Patterson Hood. English Oceans is split about evenly between the two writers, and that makes for the best Truckers’ album since A Blessing and a Curse.

2. Lydia Loveless, Somewhere ElseThe third album from the Ohio-based Loveless scratched my roots-rock itch in all the right ways. Only 23 when she wrote and recorded these songs, Loveless created a collection of country and rock that marks her as a natural progression from folks like Lucinda Williams while still boasting a youthful edge that makes me excited to see what she does next.

1. Jenny Lewis: The Voyager. Lewis’ music lands at the nexus of indie-rock, classic country and sunny retro-pop, and she easily avoids the danger of coming off too precious with biting lyrics that are set in a darker, uneasy present than her rainbow suits and glammy L.A. background might suggest. Her third solo album comes on sonically like an easy-listening soundtrack to a summer convertible cruise (Beck and Ryan Adams are both on board as producers), but Lewis is excavating deep feelings about old breakups, family deaths and the reality of facing down 40 — issues that make it easy for young and old, male and female, to relate to where she’s coming from.

SLCene Suggests: Tommy Castro and the Painkillers at Park City’s Egyptian Theatre



Singer/guitarist Tommy Castro made his bones in blues circles via a horn-driven sound, but a few years back he decided to strip the band down to a tight, aggressive quartet. The Painkillers bring some added aggression to Castro’s tunes, but they remain rooted in straightforward blue-rock and R&B. The band’s latest release is The Devil You Know, and Castro said upon release that the leaner, meaner band is a return to when he started in music. “The Painkillers really get me back to my roots,” he says. “It feels to me a lot more like it did when I first started playing with my friends as a kid. Bands were always just three or four guys playing for the fun of it.” indeed, and Castro and his band will undoubtedly make a lot of other folks have a lot of fun with their three-night stand in Park City.


SLCene Suggests: Devil Whale of a Christmas at The Urban Lounge



How’s this for a fine way to spend your Friday the weekend before Christmas? Local rockers/good dudes The Devil Whale are hosting a, her, whale of a good time at The Urban Lounge, showcasing a bunch of their friends’ bands over the course of the night. On tap besides The Devil Whale is Max Pain and the Groovies, the North Valley, Starmy and Pleasure Thieves. I suggest you put on your most ridiculous Christmas attire and head on down for some of the finest local tunes available. After all, it don’t cost nothin’.

SLCene Suggests: Plan B Theatre Company’s “Christmas with Misfits”



I can think of no group better suited to assuring some thoughtful AND hilarious holiday cheer for the populace of Salt Lake City than the people at Plan B Theatre Co. This year’s holiday production, Christmas with Misfits, collects four short original plays by local Julie Jensen, and you can imagine stories involving teen geeks giving each other sex for Christmas and a baby Jesus hoarder will be ripe for some laughs. Rest assured, there will certainly be tender moments along the way as well, delivered by ace actors Kirt Bateman, Colleen Baum and Jeanette Puhich. The show has been selling out right and left, and the only tix still available are for the Saturday 4 p.m. show. So get on it before it’s too late!

SLCene Suggests: Blackalicious at The Urban Lounge


BLACKALICIOUS, THE URBAN LOUNGE, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 9 p.m., $20

There was a time when it seemed like Blackalicious was coming through Salt Lake City two or three times a year, but it’s been a while. I’m happy to hear the NoCal duo of Gift of Gab and Chief Xcel is back on the road to deliver some of the ornate rhymes and classic beats that made them one of my favorite hip-hop groups about a decade ago. The twosome is known for staying positive, offering some spirituality and good vibes like many so-called “alternative” rap acts. As high school buddies who reconnected at UC Davis, the duo fell in with a scene that included the likes of DJ Shadow and Lyrics Born, and clearly know each other’s strengths, as their albums showcase serious skills. As far as December shows go, this one should be one of the best this year.

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