Frightened Rabbit, Floater, Horse Feathers, Eddie Shaw & The Wolf Gang, The Tallest Man On Earth 

Live: Music Picks May 13-19

click to enlarge Frightened Rabbit
  • Frightened Rabbit

Thursday May 13
Frightened Rabbit

First things first: The title of Frightened Rabbit’s sophomore album, The Winter of Mixed Drinks, is easily one of my favorites so far this year. But I’ve come to expect witty one-liners and a bewitching way with words from the Scottish band since falling in love with its debut, The Midnight Organ Fight. While that 2008 album dissected the dissolution of singer/guitarist Scott Hutchison’s long-term relationship in scathingly angry lyrics paired with surprisingly uplifting, anthemic rock, the new set isn’t quite as personal, with Hutchison writing through characters rather than himself. The results are no less winning, and the band’s sound has expanded from simple, jangly indie-rock into something more wide-ranging; orchestral-pop songs like “Swim Until You Can’t See Land” remind me of XTC, while the piano-driven anthem “Skip The Youth” aspires to U2 grandiosity. Maps & Atlases and My Brother The Native open the show. The Urban Lounge, 241 S. 500 East, 9 p.m. $13

Friday May 14

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Floater
As Kiss’s Paul Stanley is fond of saying (and what better rock & roll philosopher could we ask for, really?), “There’s no arguing with longevity.” And it’s true, although if longevity were all Portland, Ore., band Floater had going for it, that wouldn’t explain the trio’s ever-expanding fanbase. For the band, now 16 years and nine albums into its career, that growth can be attributed to a rich catalog that moves easily between psychedelia and funk, poppy two-minute tunes and longer, straightforward hard-rock tracks. Frontman/bassist Rob Wynia has a decent everyman howl, but the appeal of Floater really comes from the interplay of three musicians (including guitarist Dave Amador and drummer Pete Cornett) who have been playing together forever and a day. On tour to celebrate their new album, Wake, Floater is doing two shows in Salt Lake City, an electric show Friday and acoustic show Saturday. The State Room, 638 S. State, 9 p.m. $12 advance/$15 day of show.

Saturday May 15

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Horse Feathers
I’m the kind of music geek who gets caught up in the sound first, and starts paying attention to lyrics on further listening if I’m sufficiently hooked. So it goes with Horse Feathers, the Portland band with impossibly pretty songs backing some incredibly dark lyrics courtesy of songwriter/band leader Justin Ringle. The band’s most recent collection, Thistled Spring, is a headphone-ready sonic wonder full of lush string parts and enough twang to sate my country-lovin’ side. That sucked me in enough to start hearing Ringle’s lyrics that veer from sadness to anger bubbling low in the mix. The sound of cellist Catherine Odell harmonizing with Ringle on songs like “Cascades” is irresistible. And the laconic banjo plucking on “This Bed,” among other tunes, helps make Horse Feathers more interesting than much of the bearded, sad-bastard music out there these days. Dawn Landes and Libbie Linton open the show. Kilby Court, 741 S. 330 West, 7 p.m. $8 advance/$10 day of show

Monday May 17
Eddie Shaw & The Wolf Gang

Reading Eddie Shaw’s biography is like getting a mini-history lesson in the blues. In other words, he’s been around. As a teenage sax-man in his native Mississippi, he traveled all over the Delta to sit in with the legends of the day who passed through, from Ike Turner to Little Milton. After joining Muddy Waters for a set, Shaw was hired by Waters for his band full-time and moved to Chicago. The rest, as they say, is Chicago blues history: Shaw played with Waters for a while, moved on to lead Howlin’ Wolf’s band and played with Otis Rush for spell. He’s been leading his own band since the late ’70s, bringing his blues-drenched sax work to a style that naturally blends his Delta roots with his adopted Chicago. He’s playing a special dinner show in Salt Lake City, and it will be hard to stay seated when Shaw and the band start heating up the room at the Sun and Moon. The Sun & Moon Café, 5195 Emigration Canyon, 7 p.m. $20 reservations required, 801-583-8331

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The Tallest Man on Earth
As soon as you get a listen to The Tallest Man on Earth, two things come to mind. One is that the moniker used by Kristian Matsson just might be The Worst Name on Earth. The second is, “When did Bob Dylan die and have his voice reincarnated in some Swedish dude?” It truly is freaky how much The Tallest Man on Earth evokes America’s foremost rock poet, but Matsson isn’t simply aping a successful pioneer. He has his own knack for intriguing melodies, and while he accompanies himself simply, typically with just an acoustic guitar or banjo, his new album The Wild Hunt is a diverse collection of folk-rock that should thrill fans of his onetime tourmate Bon Iver. Nathaniel Rateliff & The Wheel open the show. Kilby Court, 741 S. 330 West, 7 p.m. $10

Coming Soon
Fear Factory, Prong (In The Venue, May 21), Cobra Starship, 3OH!3 (In The Venue, May 22), Local Natives (Kilby Court, May 22) Angels & Airwaves, Say Anything (In The Venue, May 24), Sage Francis (May 25, The Urban Lounge)

Dan Nailen:


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