With each Shearwater release, it becomes more difficult to believe that Jonathan Meiburg’s band began life as an Okkervil River side project. Shearwater’s latest album, The Golden Archipelago, confirms Meiburg’s ambitions: It’s a demanding semi-concept piece that should be heard in sequence. Meiburg spends his free time as an outdoorsman, camping in faraway places like Tierra del Fuego and the Galapagos. He brings the lessons he’s learned from these excursions to The Golden Archipelago, with his island experiences in particular informing “Meridian,” “Hidden Lakes” and “An Insular Life.” The challenging structures of “Uniforms” and “God Made Me” meld folk and classical influences, veering into post-rock territory, even when the musical bed is mostly drums, bass and guitar. The album includes a 72-page dossier that provides context to the songs’ subjects. It’s not music that’s easy to grasp, and the whole thing requires far more patience than the average listener might be willing to invest. But those who go along for the ride are rewarded with a majestic and thrilling record that continues Meiburg’s aggressive development. Shearwater play the Beachland Tavern (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124), with Wye Oak and Hospital Ships opening at 9 p.m. Tickets: $12. — Chris Drabick
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