Album: Marah

Angels of Destruction! (Munich)
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Little has been heard from roots-rockers Marah since the flurry of work that produced three albums in 2005, but Angels of Destruction! finds them returning stronger than ever. The addition of keyboardist Christine Smith has brought a new solidity to their performances, which recall Bright Eyes on the bluegrass hootenanny "Santos De Madera" and occasionally, when invested with a little old-time bonhomie courtesy of the bassoon, clarinet and horn accompaniment on tracks like "Songbirdz", the sepia-tint vignettes of The Band.

Dread, guilt and death haunt these songs, along with the lurking biblical imagery that culminates in the mountaintop epiphany of "Wilderness". "Coughing Up Blood" makes a startling opener, with its oddball blend of rockabilly and doowop. Elsewhere, a mismatched couple fall apart in "Blue But Cool", and a love-starved metropolitan finds romance in a Utah motel in "Wild West Love Song"; but over everything hangs the promise of mortality, chillily evoked in "Old Time Tickin' Away": "The lights go out and in something blew/ So much darker than you, you, all of you".

Download this: 'Coughing Up Blood', 'Songbirdz', 'Old Time Tickin' Away', 'Wilderness'