If this still-slumping economy hasn’t bankrupted you, local music promoters are trying their best to finish the job.

Madison’s 2012 fall concert season sports an embarrassment of riches, including a two-week stretch beginning in mid-September in which there’s a high-profile show nearly every day of the week. Heck, most nights local music fans will be forced into some difficult decisions, like, “Tonight do I see the Hold Steady, Mission of Burma or the Head & the Heart?” which is an actual choice many will have to make come Friday, Sept. 28 (read on to see which concert we’d choose).

Considering the wealth of talent passing through town, it’d be impossible to feature every worthwhile act. With that in mind, we picked the 12 shows we’re most looking forward to in ’12, presented here in chronological order.


 

The Heavy

Tuesday, Sept. 18, 8:30 p.m.

Majestic Theatre, 115 King St.

$10 in advance/$12 at the door (all ages);

majesticmadison.com

Even if it sounds unfamiliar, it’s safe to assume you probably have heard “How You Like Me Now?,” the ubiquitous 2009 single by the eclectic British quartet. The song, a swaggering mash-up of horn-stoked R&B and strutting garage rock, was everywhere for the better part of a year, appearing on television (“Entourage” and “Community”), in movies (“The Fighter”) and even in video games (“MLB The Show 10”). The tune should be just one of many highlights from a band that’s transformed itself into a monster live act.


 

The Jesus & Mary Chain

Wednesday, Sept. 19, 8:30 p.m.

Majestic Theatre, 115 King St.

$25 (all ages); majesticmadison.com

The Jesus & Mary Chain’s 1985 tune “Just Like Honey” provided the soundtrack as Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson parted ways in the final scene of “Lost in Translation.” The song’s sleepy vocals and gorgeous guitars synched perfectly with the bittersweet scene, heightening the sense something special had just taken place. Expect similar magic when the Scottish rockers bring their fuzzed-out sound to the Majestic.


 

Conor Oberst

Sunday, Sept. 23, 7:30 p.m.

Capitol Theater at the Overture Center,

201 State St.

$35 and $45 (all ages); overturecenter.com

Oberst, the singer-songwriter behind acoustic-leaning Bright Eyes and the harder-edged Desaparecidos, has gradually distanced himself from the comparisons to Bob Dylan and Gram Parsons that dogged him from the time he released recordings as a teenager. Always introspective, Oberst’s songs are driven by a natural inquisitiveness that shines through, whether he’s eviscerating politicians (the snarling protest song “When the President Talks to God”) or exploring spirituality, as he does on “The People’s Key,” his most recent album under the Bright Eyes moniker.


 

Lil’ B

Monday, Sept. 24, 8:30 p.m.

Majestic Theatre, 115 King St.

$18 in advance/$20 at the door (all ages); majesticmadison.com

Esoteric Berkeley, Calif., rapper Lil’ B, alternately known as the Based God, is as much a product of the Internet as Amazon or Google. In his earliest days, he created over 150 MySpace pages to upload his music, and he maintains a steady presence on Facebook and Twitter, where he’s amassed over half a million followers. His music sounds similarly inspired by the digital age, rapping over unusual beats that come from the furthest reaches of cyberspace.


 

Andrew Bird

Wednesday, Sept. 26, 7:30 p.m.

Overture Hall at the Overture Center, 201 State St.

$28, $33 and $40 (all ages); overturecenter.com

In the past, Bird’s music, much like his aviary last name, tended to be light and airy. The Chicago singer-songwriter takes a slightly harsher turn on his latest album, “Break It Yourself” (Mom+Pop), a more personal, direct effort inspired at least in part by a breakup. “Go ahead and congratulate yourself,” he sings on the searing “Eyeoneye.” “Give yourself a hand.” The bitterness suits Bird, who hasn’t sounded this invigorated and engaged since his 2005 album “Andrew Bird & the Mysterious Production of Eggs.”


 

The Hold Steady

Friday, Sept. 28, 5 p.m.

Majestic Theatre, 115 King St.

FREE (all ages); majesticmadison.com

Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn, fresh off a stint supporting his solo debut, “Clear Art Full Eyes,” often comes across like a drunken madman delivering a street corner rant, so it makes perfect sense the Brooklyn band will take to the pavement for this free outdoor performance. Though currently based on the East Coast, the rockers’ freewheeling tunes are often rooted in the Midwest (the group got its start in Minneapolis, after all). The band is reportedly at work on its sixth album, so there’s a slim chance they could debut a new song or two here.


 

Kathleen Edwards

Thursday, Sept. 27, 8:30 p.m.

Majestic Theatre, 115 King St.

$20 (all ages); majesticmadison.com

It’s been an up-and-down few years for Kathleen Edwards. The singer-songwriter parted ways with husband and longtime musical collaborator Collin Cripps and entered into a relationship with Wisconsin native and indie-rock demigod Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. These events drive the narrative on Edwards’ latest album, “Voyageur,” an open-hearted effort that comes across like the five stages of grief set to gorgeous, Americana-inspired roots-rock. Vernon, who helped produce the album, adds further texture to Edwards’ intimate sound, wrapping her stark confessions in ambient electronics and delicate instrumentation.


 

Brother Ali

Thursday, Oct. 4, 9 p.m.

Barrymore Theatre, 2090 Atwood Ave.

$18 in advance/$20 at the door (all ages); barrymorelive.com

The Madison-born rapper was a fiery presence at a June Get Out the Vote rally, freestyling atop Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” and dropping head-nodding verses about the countless factors (corporate greed, the cycle of poverty, etc.) that prevent many citizens from living the so-called American dream. Expect current news headlines to drive much of the content on the politically charged MC’s forthcoming album, “Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color,” which surfaces Sept. 18 on Rhymesayers.


 

Henry Rollins

Tuesday, Oct. 9, 7:30 p.m.

Barrymore Theatre, 2090 Atwood Ave.

$22 in advance/$25 at the door (all ages); barrymorelive.com

It doesn’t take much to rile up Henry Rollins. Fortunately for all, the musician/author/spoken word firebrand has a way of channeling his natural rage into words. During a spoken word performance at the Memorial Union in March 2011, Rollins held court on everything from consumer culture to his travels in oppressed countries. This time expect him to keep his focus stateside, since the 50-show, 50-state “Capitalism” tour finds him visiting every state capital leading up to November’s presidential election.


 

Shemekia Copeland

Wednesday, Oct. 17, 8 p.m.

High Noon Saloon, 701 E. Washington Ave.

$15 (21+); trueendeavors.com

Singer Shemekia Copeland, daughter of Texas bluesman Johnny Copeland, has a rich, powerful voice that could easily be categorized as a force of nature. She has a knack for embodying characters that have slipped between the cracks. On “Ghetto Child,” for one, Copeland sings from the point of view of a neglected child. Of course, the singer still knows how to let her hair down, too, and she does just that on “Sholanda’s,” a playful cut about a neighborhood stylist.


 

Bob Dylan

Monday, Nov. 5

Alliant Energy Center, 1919 Alliant Energy Center Way

Ticket prices and on-sale information to be announced.

For the better part of a decade Bob Dylan has relegated himself to glorified sideman, playing keyboard and singing during a steady run of club and theater concerts. But for this arena tour, the living legend has shaken things up. According to recent reports in Rolling Stone, Dylan spends roughly half the set at a grand piano and the other half standing and playing harmonica. These musical textures should bring out new shades in classics like “Tangled Up in Blue” and modern gems like “Love Sick.”


Aimee Mann

Friday, Nov. 16, 7:30 p.m.

Stoughton Opera House,

381 E. Main St., Stoughton

$45 (all ages); stoughtonoperahouse.com

It’s surprising to see Aimee Mann smiling in recent press photos, as the melancholic singer-songwriter has made a career of penning damaged love tunes. At first glance the title track from Mann’s forthcoming new record, “Charmer” (out Sept. 18 on SuperEgo), appears to reflect this sunnier outlook. Of course, dark shadows lurk just below the surface. “When you’re a charmer the world applauds,” she sings. “They don’t know that secretly charmers feel like they’re frauds.” The Stoughton Opera House is the ideal setting for Mann’s intimate confessionals — but purchase your tickets early as seats are already going fast.

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