Music Picks Nov. 29-Dec. 5 | Joshua James, Eilen Jewell, Brubeck Brothers, Most Serene Republic, Shonen Knife 

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Thursday 11.29
From First to Last, Pierce the Veil (Avalon Theater); Tori Amos (E Center); Billy Joel (ES Arena); 18 Wheels of Justice (Bar Deluxe)

Friday 11.30
Unless you’ve already purchased tickets, you won’t be seeing Joshua James in Toronto, Chicago, Boston, Denver or Los Angeles, big-time cities where the one-time Provo resident will be opening sold-out shows for David Gray. You can, however, catch him right here in Utah before he skips town again. In his online musings, James comes off as both a daydreamer and day-tripper—a regular Alexander Supertramp minus the whole Alaskan wilderness obsession. He lives for the little things (“We all got thorns in our feet near the beaches forefront. It was so beautiful we almost started crying”) and seems crushed when people turn out to be rotten. It’s all very earnest and sensitive, but is the music any good? You better believe it. James might be sweet, but he’s nowhere near naïve. He tells it like it is, without cliches and in as few choice words as possible. He doesn’t need to shout to convey pain, glory or regret. He doesn’t need a novel to make you understand, “If I stay, don’t go.” Velour, 135 N. University Ave., Provo, 8 p.m. All-ages. Info: 818-2263,

Eilen Jewell’s Letter from Sinners & Strangers is a magical mystery tour with unexpected stops. One moment the listener is transported to a ’40s jazz club where a sultry Jewell sasses her ex and chases high-shelf booze; the next kicks off a hootenanny that segues into achy-breaky balladry. Somehow, the ride never feels random. Jewell keeps things together with a timeless voice made of honey and thorns, and a band that deftly juggles country, roots, jazz and blues to drive Strangers home. The Boston-based artist isn’t breaking new ground—she’s kicking up her heels and stomping the hell out of it. Won’t you join her tonight? Kilby Court, 741 S. 330 West, 7:30 p.m. All-ages. Info:

Also Friday: The Ataris (The Circuit); Scenic Byway (Broken Record); Poetica (Burt’s Tiki Lounge); Thunderfist (Brewskis, Ogden)

Saturday 12.1
Last week, we profiled the King Khan & BBQ Show. This week, we turn our attention to a completely different type of BBQ—the Brubeck Brothers Quartet. For those outside the contemporary jazz loop, multi-instrumentalist Chris Brubeck and his drummer/percussionist brother Dan honed their chops with great expectations. Father Dave Brubeck is a jazz giant (“Take Five” anyone?) whose work reverberates among even clueless cocktail party-goers who can’t make heads or tails of Davis vs. Coltrane. Well, BBQ fills pop’s shoes just fine, cranking out their own inspired jams with seemingly effortless zeal. Did we mention they throw in elements of funk, rock, classic blues and reggae? Now that’s finger-licking good. SLCC Grand Theatre, 1575 S. State, 7:30 p.m. All-ages. Tickets: 957-3322

Also Saturday: Loom (Avalon Theater); Honey, Blank & Jones, Deepsky (In the Venue); Love You Long Time, Kid You Nauts (Velour, Provo); The Tossers, Fews & Twos (Burt’s Tiki Lounge); Slippery Kittens Burlesque, Dirty Sweet (Bar Deluxe)

Monday 12.3
Agape (Red Light Books); Bar J Wranglers (McKay Events Center, Orem); Winter Battle of the Bands (Velour, Provo); Vast Aire (Bar Deluxe)

Tuesday 12.4
Like many of their young Canadian pop music contemporaries, the Most Serene Republic crafts highly layered songs with dramatic climaxes, a bevy of instruments and swirling male/female choruses to chip away at big, ugly society. But unless you listen closely to the group’s somewhat obtuse, dramatically poetic lyrics (“Oh, the party of the humans has left us hungover” or “How distorted must be, before fuzz commons acoustic sea”), you might miss the angst. It’s easy to get swept up in, say, the cascading piano driving several tracks’ improvisational jazz, while the Republic fights the power in a subtle “Pink Houses” kind of way. Kilby Court, 741 S. 330 West, 7:30 p.m. All-ages. Tickets:

Also Tuesday: David Bazan (In the Venue—see Music); Winter Battle of the Bands (Velour, Provo)

Wednesday 12.5
Billed by official superfan Mamiko as “the greatest Japanese band in the Earth,” Shonen Knife is still vying for props on Mars. Turns out the red planet is particular to David Bowie. Go figure. It’s hard to believe anyone or thing could possibly resist the veteran punk band’s catchy pop anthems. Their impressive catalog features albums largely available in English and Japanese, though recordings in their native language aren’t as prevalent in the states. In fact, while Shonen recently released Fun! Fun! Fun! in Japan, they named their current North American tour after 2005’s Genki Shock! (yes, everything the group releases comes with a requisite exclamation mark). You can hear new material tonight, though, along with a special appearance by original bassist Atsuko Yamano! Burt’s Tiki Lounge, 726 S. State, 10 p.m. Tickets: (with Verona Grove and Juliet Dagger)

Also Wednesday: Authority Zero (Club NVO, Logan); Ozomatli (Suede, Park City); Winter Battle of the Bands (Velour, Provo)

Coming Up
Flogging Molly (In the Venue, Dec. 7); Vampire Weekend (Kilby Court, Dec. 7); Iron & Wine, Arthur & Yu (Great Saltair, Dec. 7); Fabolous (Harry O’s, Dec. 8); Benefit Concert: Vile Blue Shades, Accidente, Azon, Eagle Twin (In the Venue, Dec. 8); Dimebag Darrell Memorial Show (Club Vegas, Dec. 8); Evil Beaver (Burt’s Tiki Lounge, Dec. 11); Colour Revolt (Kilby Court, Dec. 12); Otep (Avalon Theater, Dec. 13); Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage (Great Saltair, Dec. 13); The Supersuckers (Club Vegas, Dec. 14)

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