Britt Daniel, the frontman for Spoon, scheduled to arrive at the 15th Street Tavern on Friday, March 9, has watched the indie-rock growth cycle from point-blank range. His Texas-based group emerged during the mid-'90s, when the genre was really buzzing. Spoon put out one fine disc after another on a variety of labels -- tiny (Saddle Creek), mid-sized (Matador) and jumbo (Elektra) -- whose dimensions mirrored the style's growth curve. But as the popularity of the sound ebbed, so did the band's fortunes, and its recent signing with Merge, a tastemaking imprint that generally flies beneath the industry radar, is unlikely to change this equation. But such concerns show no sign of bothering Daniel, whose work on the just-released CD Girls Can Tell represents his best to date. New songs like "Believing Is Art," "The Fitted Shirt" and "Chicago at Night" are angular and idiosyncratic yet wonderfully melodic, and the lyrics are clever and evocative: e.g., "Don't say a word/The last one's still stinging" from "Everything Hits at Once." Such quality means that fans in the know will be able to experience the thrill of loving something their less-cool cohorts don't know exists -- one of the most appealing qualities about indie rock since its birth. That, my friends, is called the circle of life.
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