High Concept

Minneapolis' finest export of the moment may be Lifter Puller, whose Fiestas & Fiascos, their fourth album, is an outright concept record chronicling the demise of several characters and the eventual torching of a nightclub called the Nice Nice. Over the course of 12 solidly crafted, unconventional indie-rock songs, singer Craig Finn offers sordid tales of drug addiction, sexual depravity and arson, all conveyed with a detached lyricism that's both hilarious and oddly poetic.

Finn's nearest antecedent is Pavement's Stephen Malkmus, while the rest of the band fuses a bag of musical genres. "Space Humping $19.99" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Living Large" have a solid pop-rock base while guitars and synthesizers spin the tunes into '80s new-wave territory. The somber "Katrina and the K-Hole" is as dark a love/drug song as the Velvet Underground ever sang, while "Cruised and Accused of Cruising" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Touch My Stuff" (RealAudio excerpt) showcase punk rock and hip-hop beats, respectively.

Fiestas & Fiascos puts a new spin on the indie-rock genre, making for a thoroughly modern sound.