Most established bands change names only under a judge's orders -- but Priestbird, appearing this Monday with the Sword, isn't most bands. Danny Bensi, Saunder Jurriaans and Gregory Rogove originally performed together as Tarantula A.D., and their notoriety was definitely on the rise; Pearl Jam hooked up with the trio for two European tour dates in 2006, putting them on par with fellow opening acts Wolfmother, My Morning Jacket and the Black Keys. Shortly thereafter, though, the players issued a press release declaring that because of their evolving sound, they "felt an overall change was in order." Hence their new handle, a reference to a character that "looks after the bird spirits [of] the afterlife," and a new CD, next month's In Your Life. Thanks to songs such as "Hand That Draws," an opus that features mournful strings, Gregorian harmonies, funereal keyboards and, eventually, some appropriately proggy guitar, the disc frequently takes flight. Guess that explains why Bensi and pals no longer felt like tarantulas. Why crawl when you can soar?

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