Live Music Picks: May 3-9 | Music Picks | Salt Lake City Weekly

Live Music Picks: May 3-9 

Jukebox the Ghost, X Ambassadors, The Fratellis, Justin Townes Earle and more.

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  • Shervin Lainez

Jukebox the Ghost, The Greeting Committee
Most would argue that The Beatles initiated what would later be termed "power pop." The bands that followed in their wake—Badfinger, the Raspberries, Nazz, the Shoes, etc.—helped fine tune it as a genre, one distinguished by radio-ready melodies, instantly engaging hooks, high harmonies and a playful approach that all but assures instant accessibility. Lately though, that style has given way to the high-gloss sounds of today's current sensations—Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, Florence and the Machine, Cardi B and pretty much anyone who appears as a musical guest on Saturday Night Live. While Jukebox the Ghost could still be considered relative upstarts in the pop sweepstakes, their effusive sound—as evidenced by their recently released fifth album Off To The Races and its bouncy piano-driven lead single, "Everybody's Lonely"—shows that flash and finesse can, in fact, go hand in hand. Taking their name from a word borrowed from the lyric of a Captain Beefheart song and one referencing a novel by Vladimir Nabokov, these three college buddies found success almost immediately. Following on the heels of their independent debut, they reaped instant critical kudos, and launched a nonstop touring schedule that quickly qualified them as one of the hardest-working bands in the biz. There's nothing the least bit spooky about that. (Lee Zimmerman) Metro Music Hall, 615 W. 100 South, 7 p.m. $18 presale, $20 day of show,

  • Catie Laffoon

X Ambassadors, Jacob Banks, SHAED
X Ambassadors occupies a pop-forward, radio-friendly space on the rock spectrum, and is best known for its infectiously catchy hit "Renegades." The group formed in 2009, and spent several years performing in New York bars and clubs gaining little traction, often playing to practically no one. Their big break came when an acoustic version of the equally catchy "Unconsolable" caught the attention of Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds, who urged record label Interscope to sign the band. X Ambassadors is made up of a pair of brothers—frontman Sam Harris and keyboardist/backup vocalist Casey Harris—the latter of whom was born blind due to Senior-Loken syndrome, a rare condition that affects vision and kidneys. (Prior to the band's success, he used his highly sensitive ear to make a living as a piano tuner.) Anyone who's seen the band play live can attest that blindness doesn't hold Casey back whatsoever. He's extremely familiar with the tactile knobs on his synthesizers, and it helps that the band's sets are meticulously planned out, with only a handful of unstructured and improvisational sections. As has become the norm on the music festival circuit, X Ambassadors plays along with a metronome and pre-recorded tracks during live shows. Each member tries to generate as much noise as possible—Casey often plays two keyboards simultaneously, for instance—but some 20 percent the group's live sound is pre-recorded. While that might offend rock purists, it's worth remembering that X Ambassadors is very much a pop band. (Howard Hardee) The Depot, 13 N. 400 West, 6:30 p.m., $34 presale, $36 day of show,

  • Stephen Kyle

The Fratellis, Blood Red Shoes
Back in 2006, Scottish rock trio The Fratellis broke out in the U.K. with a few chart-topping singles off their debut album Costello Music—"Henrietta," "Chelsea Dagger" and "Flathead." At the time, most stateside listeners probably knew the songs from iPod commercials, or at least listened to them on an iPod. For anyone coming of age around that time, it was brilliant stuff. The music was as accessible as any of the garage-rock revivalists of the time, but also curiously different: Frontman Jon Fratelli's mushy-mouthed enunciations and hooligan attitude gave them an entirely different vibe. The band's streetlamp serenades and drunken shuffles made suburban American kids who'd never been overseas imagine ruminating over suds with a couple of close friends—er, mates—in a strange and dimly lit pub. But like most hard-drinking hooligans, The Fratellis didn't age particularly well. Their sophomore album, Here We Stand, lacked the catchiness and rowdy spirit that made Costello Music so memorable, and their follow-up efforts never really lived up to their early promise as bleary-eyed guitar heroes. But now, wisely, they've gone in an entirely different direction. On their recently released fifth studio album, In Your Own Sweet Time, Fratelli sings in falsetto, the band adopts a glossy electronic music aesthetic and rock instruments are pushed into the background. They're almost unrecognizable as the band that made their fame with messy guitar jams, but it really works on songs like the bouncy, summertime banger "Stand Up Tragedy." They sound clear-headed, concise and, well, sober. (HH) The Complex, 536 W. 100 South, 7 p.m., $18.50,

  • Joshua Black Wilkins

Justin Townes Earle, Blake Brown
Indeed, there's something to be said for the age-old adage "like father, like son." Consider Willie Nelson and his boys, or Hank Williams and Hank Jr. Then there's Loudon and Rufus Wainwright, Richard and Teddy Thompson, Ringo Starr and Zak Starkey. The list of musicians who have followed in their fathers' footsteps goes on and on. Of course, when it's a matter of filling your father's jeans—and inheriting his genes—certain habits are inevitably passed down. In the case of Justin Townes Earle, talent, tenacity and the struggle to stay sober were the gifts given him by his bad-boy dad, Steve Earle. It didn't help the father/son relationship, but, happily, both men survived, and Justin's career—like his father's—flourished. More than simply being Steve's kid, Justin boasts a recording catalog that has won raves from fans and critics alike. Happily, too, the two seem to have reconciled, as evidenced by Justin's appearance on an episode of his dad's HBO series Treme a few years back. Not that he's riding his coattails—with a 2011 Americana Music Award for his song "Harlem River Blues," extensive kudos for his album Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now, production credits on country legend Wanda Jackson's Unfinished Business, and his debut at the Grand Ole Opry, Justin's solo stardom has long been assured. He's currently touring behind his 2017 release Kids in the Street. Blake Brown opens. (LZ) The State Room, 638 S. State, 8 p.m., $37,

  • Ralph_PH via Wikimedia Commons

Hall & Oates,Train, Kandace Springs
Are you a Hall or are you an Oates? Daryl Hall has always been the voice of the pop duo—literally and figuratively. Even now, five decades into their career, he's the spokesman for the two. John Oates still prefers to stand off to the side, having a good time but clearly focused on the music. He isn't the heart of the party, but he always shows up—I feel a Buzzfeed personality quiz coming on. The quintessential pop duo has had a prolific run, but their legacy seemed uncertain until a few years ago. Now, they're Rock Hall of Fame inductees with stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Why are they just now cashing in on their decades of prolific work? You could chalk it up to their song "You Make My Dreams" becoming a feel-good anthem, or pop culture references like that charming scene in 2009's (500) Days of Summer, or maybe we have a greater sense of cultural poptimism—after all, no one in their time made soulful pop music better than Hall & Oates. Whatever the reason, we're happy Hall & Oates are finally getting their due. Their sets are pretty tight these days—expect around 14 songs—but are strictly the hits. After Train plays a few anthems of their own, expect a joyous set of the classics, including "Maneater," "Sara Smile" and "Rich Girl". (Robby Poffenberger) Vivint Smart Home Arena, 301 W. South Temple, 7 p.m., all ages, $42-$126,

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Lee Zimmerman

Lee Zimmerman

An accomplished writer, blogger and reviewer, Zimmerman contributes to several local and national publications, including No Depression, Paste, Relix and Goldmine. The music obsessive says he owns too many albums to count and numerous instruments he’s yet to learn.

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