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The shimmery cymbals and distant voices in the fog of white noise that opens this album somehow recall the beginning of Days of Future Passed, by the Moody Blues. While musically the work shares little with the high-end production of that '60s classic, artistically it's equally as ambitious, with a bittersweet and wistful air of nostalgia for, and reflection on, life in the high plains. A double album, New West America is a lo-fi epic cast in rich hues and intricate percussive textures. Hints of an experimental hip-hop influence color the songs, but songwriter Matthew Sage weaves these elements into the broader arc of the themes. "Hairpin/Switchback" is perhaps the highlight on a record remarkably lacking in low points.

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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.

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