KELLY HOGAN 10/12, THE HIDEOUT Kelly Hogan, an Atlanta transplant and indie-rock vet, has charmed her way into the center of Chicago's alt-country scene with her creamy voice, which can flow into the cracks of anything from country to soul to old-style pop; she's appeared onstage with the Pine Valley Cosmonauts, Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire, the Mekons, and plenty of others who've played for drink tickets at the Hideout, where she also tends bar. These two shows--one at 8, one at 10--are meant to celebrate Because It Feel Good (Bloodshot), her first album with her own band (her debut, Beneath the Country Underdog, was a collaboration with the Cosmonauts). Only two of the ten tracks are originals, cowritten with guitarist Andy Hopkins, and while they're perfectly competent, songwriting isn't the point. Hogan's a first-class interpreter--not the kind of singer that claims a song, but rather the kind that lets the song claim her. Here she opens up to tunes by Smog, Charlie Rich, and Randy Newman--and if her possession by the Statler Brothers classic "I'll Go to My Grave Loving You" doesn't raise gooseflesh, you must be dead. STONE TEMPLE PILOTS 10/12, ALLSTATE ARENA One of the very few good things about a life-during-wartime mentality is that we no longer are expected to pretend to care about the trials and tribulations of newly sober rock stars. The Stone Temple Pilots' fifth album, Shangri-la Dee Da (Atlantic), with its lyrical vendettas against Hollywood models and countless unidentified others who didn't do their holy duty of loving the omniscient narrator in his time of need, would've seemed petty even on September 10, and Scott Weiland's vague, all-encompassing woe is presented in a manner so pompous and humorless it makes Pearl Jam sound like Ween. SWINGIN' UTTERS 10/12, METRO Tuneful catchy punk these days is less about the songs than it is about the sound, and San Francisco's Swingin' Utters sound great--that is, they sound British and working-class. Well, actually, singer Johnny Bonnel sounds a lot like Social Distortion's Mike Ness, but the speedy belt-alongs on the band's new self-titled album (its third for Fat Wreck Chords) are pure pint-swingin' music--though if you really swing yours this fast you'll spill most of your beer. They open for the Damned, whose first album of original material since 1995, Grave Disorder, just came out on Nitro, the label run by Offspring singer Dexter Holland. BJORK 10/14, CIVIC OPERA HOUSE Given her gigantic stature on the pop landscape, I was a bit startled to realize that Vespertine (Elektra) is only the Icelandic nightingale's fourth proper solo album. Even at her most straightforward, Bjork is utterly distinctive, oozing personal vision in a way only a handful of pop icons are allowed to at any one time, particularly in our snooziferous mainstream climate. But she's also extremely savvy, recruiting just the right people to help her transmit that vision. This time around her crew includes San Francisco electronic wits Matmos, New York avant-garde harpist Zeena Parkins, and manifesto-penning British producer Matthew Herbert; maybe most stunning of all are Bjork's own arrangements for old-fashioned tinkling music box, adapted by a guy named Jack Perron, who's apparently the creator of a MIDI music-box program for Windows. Vespertine, in case you don't know, means "flourishing in the evening," and this is for sure no daytime-driving record: it's more long night than midnight sun, and more hot spring than glacier. Eerie and evocative, with hardly a hook to break the mood, it's also the makeout record of the year: "Hidden Place" and "Cocoon" are even stickier and lustier than the lyrics would have you guess, which is saying something. This appearance at the Opera House features Matmos, Parkins, a choir of Inuit women from Greenland, a Canadian throat singer, and a 40-piece orchestra; not surprisingly tickets sold out long ago. MURDER CITY DEVILS 10/16, METRO This is a farewell tour of sorts--the departure of keyboardist Leslie Hardy, whose funereal Farfisa lines distinctly melodramatized the Devils' black-haired junk rock circa In Name and Blood, is apparently too much to overcome. On the band's final EP, Thelema (Sub Pop), the old lean throb is still there, but it's merely a propulsive force behind an increasingly ambitious and downright gothy art rock. Hardy's shoes will be filled here by Nick DeWitt of Pretty Girls Make Graves, the band to which bassist Derek Fudesco will dedicate his time when the tour's over. JENNY TOOMEY 10/16, SCHUBAS As cofounder of the late, lamented Simple Machines--the indie label that wrote the book, literally, on how to put out your own record--and as the executive director of the Future of Music coalition, which fights for indie musicians' rights on the digital frontier, Jenny Toomey would've made her mark on music history without ever picking up an instrument. But lest we forget, she's a musician too--and the former driving force behind Tsunami has just released her first solo album, a two-CD set called Antidote, on Misra (the label run by her colleague at the Future of Music coalition, Michael Bracy). Disc one was recorded in Chicago with local luminaries like Andrew Bird, Edith Frost, ex-Coctail Mark Greenberg, and the Aluminum Group's John Navin, and disc two was done in Nashville with members of Lambchop. Most of the Chicago disc blurs into a smart but ultimately unmemorable mush of ladylike adult contemporary; I like the Nashville disc considerably better, with its eerie country rock and slinky torch songs--including a gleaming cover of Curtis Mayfield's "Fool for You." Toomey's singing takes center stage on both halves; she's evolved into a sort of indie-rock Carole King. Her band here will include drummer Jay Toby, violinist Jean Cook, cellist Amy Domingues, and guitarist Franklin Bruno. SUZANNE VEGA 10/17, PARK WEST; 10/20, FERMILAB Songs in Red and Gray (A&M) is Suzanne Vega's first album since 1996, and her first since her divorce from producer Mitchell Froom. As the latter it rivals the new Melissa Etheridge for best divorce record of the year--though neither comes close to the best divorce record of all time, Richard and Linda Thompson's Shoot Out the Lights. (Guess it helps on the creative-tension front if your foe is still your collaborator.) The single "Widow's Walk" is built on a rather dubious conceit ("Consider me a widow, boys / and I will tell you why / It's not the man, but it's the marriage that drowned"), and I'm not sure the world really needed an answer song to the Rod Stewart chestnut "Maggie May" just now. But over the long haul, the layers of gracefully applied metaphor build up a sad, significant weight.