Andrew Bird's success story has to be one of indie rock's unlikeliest: We're talking, after all, about a whistling, violin-playing dude from Chicago who has somehow managed to outlast his stint with the Squirrel Nut Zippers by penning impossibly erudite art-folk tunes about fake palindromes and Scythian empires (and then titling them "Fake Palindromes" and "Scythian Empires").
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Bird's new Noble Beast contains no shortage of quirk -- "From Proto-Sanskrit Minoans to porto-centric Lisboans," goes one oft-quoted line in "Tenuousness" -- but with its less-cluttered arrangements and increased melodic presence, the album could also be his bi d for an audience that includes more than NPR listeners and Will Shortz devotees. At the Orpheum, expect to rub elbows with NPR listeners and Will Shortz devotees. Loney Dear is the working name of Swedish indie-pop craftsman Emil Svanängen, whose catchy little ditties rarely thrill but usually satisfy. (Mikael Wood)