The Decemberists

It's quite telling, if you think about it, that nobody ever really accuses The Decemberists of being conceptually overblown – in other words, they pull it off pretty solidly. Even if they're not your cup of tea, there's something undeniably expert about the meticulous craftsmanship of their brainy concept records. Maybe it's just that Colin Meloy's intimidating wordplay shuts everyone up and makes them go running for their dictionaries instead? Nah, more likely it's just that the songs work on a smaller level too, functioning as killer singles even if you have no sense for the larger storyline. Their newest album The King Is Dead is a dramatic retreat from the grandeur they've become known for, which is actually quite alright since the tunefulness has been there all along. The Head And The Heart open.