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Noteworthy: reviews of new music

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Midlake – The Trials of Van Occupanther (Bella Union):If you're a band bent on borrowing liberally from the Library of Hallowed Pop, it's key to make good choices. First, check out the shimmering, harmony-rich vocals of '70s megastars Fleetwood Mac and CSNY. Then peruse the old-soul testaments of Neil Young and Dire Straits' Mark Knopfler, and be sure to reference the yearning, romantic tenors of Ron Sexsmith and Keane's Tom Chaplin. Finally, with your head stuffed to capacity with these classic, iconic sounds, go forth and make a glorious, spellbinding masterpiece of your own. And that's exactly what this little band from Texas did. Welcome to the Library, Midlake. File under: Best Record I've Heard This Year. Grade: A
– John Kehe

moe. – The Conch (Fat Boy): The critical success of 2003's "Wormwood," two years after "Dither," gave a lift to the long-running quintet from Buffalo, N.Y., and "The Conch" (album No. 7) should satisfy fans of the looping, moody musical genre. The echoing guitar and complex rhythms of these masters of improv are best heard live, where the free-form, lava-lamp musings can take cues from invested young fans. But even through earbuds, moe. can induce a meditative state. This well-paced set is varied to a degree that defies description. "Lost Along the Way" is hippyish, haunting. "Another One Gone" kicks in like some weird Old West reggae ballad and delivers a listener to "Wind It Up," which initially evokes deep space. Filmmakers ought to mine these guys for some soundtracks. Grade: B+
– Clayton Collins


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