The Decemberists

Wednesday, January 30

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. KEVIN CAPP

Jan. 30-31, 2008