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Music in Brief

Anyone who's ever wondered what Will Oldham's alt-country croak would sound like in front of sludgy psychedelic hard rock should cock an ear toward Arbouretum, the heavy head-trip outfit fronted by Oldham crony Dave Heumann. On Rites Of Uncovering (Thrill Jockey), Arbouretum plays rumbling, rambling stoner ballads with a full dollop of Fairport Convention/Led Zeppelin Euro-folk mythology. The sound coalesces on "The Rise," an 11-minute tribal chant, slathered in jam… B

Another Oldham crony, Sara Beck, has self-released her second crotchety indie-rock album under her performing name, Pink Nasty. Mold The Gold puts a shaggy coat on rootsy singer-songwriter clichés, with Beck telling aimless stories and searching her psyche while strumming a plugged-in guitar. As is often the case with this kind of music, the melodies are a little stock, but Beck's dewy coo and cheerfully perverse lyrics fit cleanly into full arrangements that accentuate her rocker side. A highlight: the creepy "BTK Blues," which is about feeling bored and restless, on the verge of becoming a victim… B+

David Kilgour's 2004 album Frozen Orange was arguably his solo-career highlight, as evocative and homespun as his classic Clean-era sides. The Far Now (Merge) lacks its predecessor's beachfront-at-sunset clarity, perhaps because it was recorded at home in New Zealand with a grab-bag of guests instead of in Nashville with members of Lambchop, but Kilgour still excels at dreamy alt-pop throwaways like "BBC World," which make lying in bed all day sound as invigorating as real work… B

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"Summer Song," the first track on James Yorkston's third album, The Year Of The Leopard (Domino), barely rises above a murmur, and the rest of the record stays in that mode, sounding like a man humming to himself in the back of a crowded bus. Given the winsome melody and warm buzz of "Steady As She Goes," or the engaging spoken-word sketch "Woozy With Cider," it's hard not to wish that Yorkston would elevate his energy level to match his talent… B

The Postmarks don't do airy faux-exotica any better than Ivy, Mosquitos, or any other band that combines unironically lush orchestration with breathy vocals, but the sub-Burt Bacharach stylings of pillowy The Postmarks songs like "Winter Spring Summer Fall" are still a nice aural vacation in the chill of January, and a reminder that warmer days are ahead. B

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