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Marcus Bently, Joe Firstman, Sweatshop Union, Andale!

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THURSDAY 12.21
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MARCUS BENTLY & THE BEAT SURRENDER
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It happened gradually, with Band of Annuals and Bronco taking the reigns. Then Glade and Palomino started popping up at various all-ages venues. Now Marcus Bently & The Beat Surrender are making their mark on Salt Lake City’s burgeoning indie/country/Americana scene. Bently, whose Jackson Browne-flavored voice cuts like sharp molasses, leads a solid rhythm section through ballads and straight-up barroom rock. Kilby Court, 741 S. 330 West, 7:30 p.m. All-ages. Info: KilbyCourt.com (with Joshua James & The Southern Boys, Candle and Iamb)

JOE FIRSTMAN
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Carson Daly might suck the funny out of late-late-night television, but at least the Last Call host has enough sense to showcase consistently good musical guests and employ Joe Firstman as leader of the in-house band. Off air, Firstman is a skilled, if generic, singer/songwriter whose adaptable “adult-alternative” style rarely falls flat. You might say he has major crossover appeal'crossing from mainstream airwaves to upscale parties and opening slots for Sheryl Crow, Jason Mraz and Willie Nelson. The Urban Lounge, 241 S. 500 East, 10 p.m. Tickets: 746-0557.

SWEATSHOP UNION
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It might sound cheesy, but Sweatshop Union makes music that makes you feel good. Not cool, or sexy, or dangerous, just good. The Canadian hip-hop collective abides by the De La Soul/Jurassic 5 rule of thumb'less bling, more thought equals growth, learning, love. Their version leans on beautiful harmonies and tight rhymes about universal wrongs and how to make them right. But just because they concern themselves with serious matters, doesn’t mean they’re all high and mighty. As one of seven, Mos Eisley says even gangsta rap has its place: “You can’t always be eating healthy food'you have to eat some Big Macs once in a while.” Monk’s, 19 E. 200 South, 9 p.m. Tickets: 24Tix.com.

- Also Thursday: Salty Frogs (Piper Down)

FRIDAY 12.22
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MARIE OSMOND’S MAGICAL CHRISTMAS
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You’ve got to hand it to Marie Osmond. The beloved Utah icon has weathered vicious gossip about her postpartum blues, divorce rumors and a battle to save her daughters from Internet “sex talk.” Work, work, work, it seems, is great therapy. Osmond recently launched a Christmas spectacular featuring old hits and a few Broadway tunes along with multimedia projections and appearances by her super-creepy dolls. The delicate toys, varied in size, come equipped with large Chuckie-like eyes'the kind that follow you around the room. Or the circle. The “Magic Circle” in which audience members can sit for a few extra bucks. Now that’s entertainment. ES Arena, 301 W. South Temple, 7 p.m. All-ages. Tickets: Ticketmaster.com.

¡ANDALE!, HIGH BEAMS
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It’s nice to see ¡Andale! playing out more. Not a girl group, not a grrl group, but a trio of two female vocalists and a killer drummer whose live appearances are few and far between, they let locals taste their bittersweet punk only to snatch it away for months and months. Sufficiently hooked, we crave another hit of “FNT,” a quick-and-dirty tune powered by frenetic, high-pitched yelps. We need the melodic harmonies of “Eventually” and “Unforgiving Sky” to come down. The High Beams, on the other hand, provide a nice, steady mellow with tight, country-ish (“alt-country” is on notice) music featuring recording guru Mike Sasich’s ace guitar tricks. Monk’s, 19 E. 200 South, 10 p.m. Info: 350-0950.

- Also Friday: Red Bennies, Skullfuzz (Urban Lounge); Royal Bliss (Liquid Joe’s); Invisible Rays, Grimmway (Burt’s Tiki Lounge); Psychostick (Club Vegas'see Music, p. 48)

SATURDAY 12.23
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- Form of Rocket, Blackhole (Burt’s Tiki Lounge); Mugshots CD Release (Urban Lounge)

SUNDAY 12.24
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- Xmas Eve Karaoke Swilldown (Burt’s Tiki Lounge); Kerry O’Key (Piper Down)

MONDAY 12.25
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XMAS WITH DJ CURTIS STRANGE
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For some, Christmas simply drives home the already vivid point that they are alone. Painfully alone. Others, while surrounded by friends and family, believe the holidays simply exaggerate our country’s unhealthy obsession with money, status and excess. Still others wish Marie Osmond would just go away (along with Oprah, Fergie and Rachael Ray). Whatever. It’s not easy though, abstaining from Santa, Jesus and all that jumbled lore. Restaurants, coffee shops and many bars are on mandatory lockdown until Macy’s opens for year-end sales. Tonight, CJ Starkey, aka DJ Curtis Strange, will take a break from promoting the upcoming Salt Lake City International Tattoo Convention (Feb. 16-18) to spin all-season tunes for Grinches and Whos alike. Burt’s Tiki Lounge, 726 S. State, 10 p.m. Info: 521-0572.

COMING UP
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Wynonna (Eccles Center, Dec. 28). Time Tunnel (The Depot, Dec. 31). Ted Dancin’ (Urban Lounge, Jan. 31). The Supersuckers (Suede, Dec. 31). Tech N9ne (Great Saltair, Jan. 11). My Morning Jacket (The Depot, Jan. 11). Reverend Horton Heat (Great Saltair, Jan. 12). Dixie Dregs (The Depot, Jan. 13). Robert Earl Keen (Suede, Jan. 13). Shapeshifters (Kilby Court, Jan. 15). Jesse Dayton (Suede, Jan. 16). Bowling for Soup (In the Venue, Jan. 17). The Album Leaf (Urban Lounge, Jan. 19). Hell’s Belles (Suede, Jan. 24). Slayer (Great Saltair, Jan. 30). The Fray (McKay Events Center, Jan. 31).

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