Get the free Short List Podcast sent directly to your computer featuring the night's live music recommendations, audio clips, show details, and priceless banter that's worth EVERY PENNY! Yes, you can subscribe via iTunes!
“To make a mountain of your life is just a choice/But I never learned enough to listen to the voice that told me: Always love . . . hate will get you every time.” “Popular” is definitely the song this decade-old threesome is best known for, but “Always Love,” from Nada Surf’s 2005 The Weight Is a Gift, is the one I find (in the most Buddhist sense of the word) sublime. This band has gotten better and better over the years, and is about to release its fifth album, Lucky, on Barsuk. Earlier this month, NPR crowned the new song “See These Bones” as a Song of the Day, and its tender weight should appeal not just to talk-radio-listening adults but to everybody with an ear for “simple” indie rock made with intelligence and an uncanny sense of empathy. With Port O’Brien.
-- RACHEL SHIMP
Moore Theatre, $30 adv./$34, Wednesday and Thursday
Usually, when an NPR critic dubs a band “literate and charming,” it immediately has its cool credentials revoked and its live shows relegated to the assisted-living circuit. But the Decemberists are fucking literate and charming, and even if the Portland-based quintet’s taste for the literary sometimes comes off as effete overreaching (see “The Solider’s Life,” wherein frontman Colin Meloy deploys the words “pantaloons” and “dungarees” as if pointing to his creative-writing degree; we believe you, dude), the charm remains intact, like a secret between friends. If the latter simile sounds like it’s lifted from a Meloy lyric sheet, please forgive me, but his often fantastical stories (he’s part balladeer, part narrative poet), underpinned as they are by melancholic-symphonic instrumentation, are downright infectious. And, yes, charming. Also on Thursday, Jan. 31.