Critic's Choice

Starlight Mints, Friday, December 22 at Tulagi in Boulder, with DeVotchKa, began its life as a kind of skewed seven-piece orchestra -- complete with string section -- led by singer/songwriter Allan Vest and drummer Andy Nuñez. Though the band is now condensed to a quintet, its second release, The Dream That Stuff Was Made Of, clearly demonstrates a fondness for big sounds and many, many instruments. In addition to occasional cello or violin sounds, the album abounds in humming, disparate noises, from synchronized hand claps and woozy harmonies to distorted brass, erratic time signatures, cartoon effects and the strained whir of a leftover church organ. The recording is a cerebral, almost subterranean combination that should delight fans of brooding, challenging pop; Dream somehow reminds us of a whole slew of off-kilter masters -- Space Odyssey-era David Bowie, the Pixies circa Surfer Rosa, a less manic Syd Barrett, John Lennon playing out a whim -- while introducing us to something altogether new.


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