It takes a certain kind of person to really be interested in Eastern and Central Europe. It’s cold, ridden with bad food and has more historical tragedies than can be counted on any number of appendages. Fortunately for music listeners everywhere, Zach Condon, the guy behind Beirut, seems to be one of them. On Beirut’s debut record “Gulag Orkestar,” Condon’s voice is the highlight, drifting just above the muddy marches and bright strings of his Balkan-tinged arrangements. “Postcards from Italy” is a highlight on the album; the melody grabs you and the triumphant-sounding brass buoys the tune along towards an end that seems to drift off into the air. Indie music seems to be trying to move away from irony without becoming melodramatic pap, often, as Beirut seems to, by taking bands like Neutral Milk Hotel and the Magnetic Fields as guides. With “Gulag Orkestar,” Beirut continues this trend in a distinct way, with a sad sound that’s somehow just right for today. (Seth Mayer)
August 19 at Empty Bottle.