Setting Sun (aka Los Angeles singer-songwriter Gary Levitt) has racked up many an Elliott Smith comparison over the past two years, not to mention David Bowie and Kurt Cobain—who could really complain about that? Levitt’s two albums, 2002’s lo-fi Holed Up and the new higher-fi Math & Magic (SettingSun.cc), are loaded with dark left-field melodies and rainbow-flavored pop quirks far more endearing than annoying; it’s usually one or the other with these self-produced solo multi-instrumentalists operating under covert band names. THURSDAY, May 6 @ Orion’s Music, 2110 S. 1100 East, 7 p.m. All-ages. Info: 531-8181.
In a rare case of Alternative Press actually getting something right, the mag referred to Limbeck’s Hi, Everything’s Great (Doghouse) as “the alt-country album of the year.” They also questioned how a power-pop band from Orange County (no, they haven’t appeared on The O.C.—yet) could pull it off, while Limbeck themselves have further confused the issue by citing the cult flick Wet Hot American Summer (!) as an influence. “[It’s] country rock,” singer-guitarist Patrick Carrie told Hand Carved. “You know, like Johnny Cash and the Byrds, with louder guitars. And I like Jack Daniels.” THURSDAY, May 6 @ Kilby Court, 741 S. 330 West, 8 p.m. All-ages. Info: 320-9887 (with Casket Lottery).
An infamous New York City band of Eastern European and Israeli immigrants playing “Ukrainian gypsy punk cabaret”? Makes complete sense. “The majority of art is so terrible and narcissistic, it steals your energy,” Gogol Bordello frontman Eugene Hutz told The Chicago Tribune. “But there are still few that breed a new generation that will be very anti-ironic and true, flamboyant, merry, gay and cathartic.” Which also sums up the Bordello’s music, a punk-inflected take on world-music exotica coupled with a live show that’s as much performance art as rock concert. FRIDAY, May 7 @ Suede, 1612 Ute Blvd. (Kimball Junction), Park City, 9:30 p.m. Info: 435-658-2665.
SLC SUMMER MUSIC FEST
Summer proper is still weeks away, but the second Salt Lake City Summer Music Festival just won’t wait: Local rockers Starmy, Remedy Motel (well, local via San Diego), Smackwater Jack, Blind Iris and Lola warm the way for returning headliners Royal Bliss. “It’s kind of a school’s-out party, and a chance see some good local bands,” says Bliss singer Neal Middleton. “It was also going to be release party for our CD, but it’s not ready yet.” The disc, tentatively titled After the Chaos, should drop next month. SATURDAY, May 8 @ Cactus Street, 31 E. 400 South, 2-9:30 p.m. All-ages. Tickets: 800-888-8499.
Co-owner of house music label Soulfuric Records and half of the renown Jazz ‘n’ Groove productions, Brian Tappert has been DJing since the prehistoric New Jersey days of 1984—mind-boggling, ain’t it? As a producer and engineer, Tappert is known as a meticulous perfectionist who retains the soul; as a club DJ, the rep holds true. “I play energetic, soulful house,” he told the Southport Weekender. “I branch off into the deeper side of things, [but] I only play records I like and I always try and remember that it’s a party.” SATURDAY, May 8 @ W Lounge, 358 S. West Temple, 9:30 p.m. Info: 359-0637.
Is Melissa Ferrick really an “energetic lesbian pop star,” as per a Women Who Rock magazine headline? The “pop star” part is a stretch, especially since the singer-songwriter-guitarist has been an indie artist ever since her exceptional back-to-back releases for Atlantic (1993’s Massive Blur and 1995’s Willing to Wait) failed to produce Jewel-size sales. Ferrick’s latest releases on her own Right On Records, Listen Hard and the live 70 People at 7,000 Feet, are rough ‘n’ tumble affairs loaded with haunting hooks, battered guitars, go-for-broke vocals and vivid storytelling—nope, still not Jewel. MONDAY, May 10 @ Halo, 60 E. 800 South, 9:30 p.m. Info: 363-4522.
Come June, New Jersey emo-pop punkers Midtown will occupy a slot in the Columbia Records roster right below Bette Midler with their label debut Forget What You Know—beats their previous home, emo-pop assembly-line Drive-Thru Records. Until then, it’s back to life on the road. “We get very little sleep, spend most of the day in our van driving somewhere, make no money,” singer-guitarist Heath Saraceno told Delusions of Adequacy. “But at least we get to do what we love.” TUESDAY, May 11 @ Lo-Fi Café, 123 S. West Temple, 8 p.m. All-ages. Info: LoFiCafe.com (with Armor For Sleep, Your Enemies Friends and Lance’s Heroes).
The name Leo Kottke is synonymous with “guitar virtuoso,” even non-players know it. The 6- and 12-string master has recorded over 20 albums since 1969, as well as the little-mentioned score to the 1986 cinematic tour de force Fat Guy Goes Nutzoid. His theory of longevity? “The two themes of my career with labels have been that I should have a chick singer and that I should make a Christmas album,” Kottke told Innerviews. “I’ve kind of canvassed audiences; I know that one of the reasons they keep coming to hear me is because I haven’t made a Christmas album or a record with a chick singer.” WEDNESDAY, May 12 @ Jeanne Wagner Theater, 138 W. 300 South, 8 p.m. All-ages. Tickets: 355-2787.
Straight outta San Luis Obispo, Calif. (the hallowed birthplace of this column’s author, coincidentally), Watashi Wa sidestep the whole our-music-just-can’t-be-defined-dude drama, sort of: “We’re a pop-rock band, pretty straightforward, but I think we’re doing things differently,” says frontman Seth Roberts. “I think our songs have melodies that stick in your head, but still hold maturity.” Depends on your definition of maturity, but The Love of Life (Tooth & Nail) boasts a solid dozen blatant head-stickers, for sure. Give it up for the SLO! WEDNESDAY, May 12 @ Kilby Court, 741 S. 330 West, 8 p.m. All-ages. Info: 320-9887 (with Mae).
Fat Possum Juke Joint Caravan (Brewskis, May 13; Halo, May 14). Jucifer (Egos, May 14). Kid Rock (E Center, May 14). Gwar (In the Venue, May 14). My Morning Jacket (Sound, May 15). AC/D-She (Egos, May 15). Damageplan (In the Venue, May 16). Lost Prophets (Lo-Fi Café, May 18). Clinic, Low Flying Owls (Liquid Joe’s, May 19). Brides of Destruction (In the Venue, May 21). Rasputina (In the Venue, May 23). The Shins (In the Venue, May 27). Bob Schneider (Halo, May 28). Styx, Peter Frampton (Usana Amphitheater, May 28). Dashboard Confessional (E Center, May 29). Local H (Egos, June 2).