Blog-driven indie rock sensation Beirut is putting the final touches on the follow-up to 2006's "Gulag Orkestar," tentatively due in September. Twelve songs are being eyed to make the final cut for th

Blog-driven indie rock sensation Beirut is putting the final touches on the follow-up to 2006's "Gulag Orkestar," tentatively due in September. Twelve songs are being eyed to make the final cut for the as-yet-untitled set.

"I've finished what I'm capable of doing, and from here, I'm taking it to mixing," Beirut founder Zach Condon tells Billboard.com. "Owen Pallet [of Montreal group Final Fantasy] is going to help out with some string arrangements. The influences are coming from a different place; it's not heavily a Balkan aesthetic. I was listening to a lot of old French songs, but I'm taking it in my direction."

Condon, a Santa Fe, N.M., native, flew his band out to Albuquerque to record the new album, and wrangled Griffin Rodriguez, who has recently worked with Man Man, to produce.

Without eschewing the old-world feel of "Gulag Orkestar," the new material is more varied in approach. Iinstead of every instrument on every song, we're getting a bit more creative," Condon says. "I like the idea of every song sounding like a different band. It's fun to have these songs written out, but then have infinite possibilities to turn them into something else."

One cut, "A Sunday Smile," sounds like "an old organ grinder song," according to Condon. Other songs tipped to appear are "Guyamas Sonora," "Cherbourg" and "In the Mausoleum."

Beirut will return to live action with a sold-out May 6-8 run at New York's Bowery Ballroom, followed by an appearance at Spain's Primavera Festival. "We might play two or three new tunes at these," Condon says. "We're still figuring out how to do them live."

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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