by Ted S. McGregor Jr. and Carey Murphy & r & The Fiery Furnaces & lt;a href= & quot; & amp;offerid=78941.464504061 & amp;type=10 & amp;subid= & quot; & Rehearsing My Choir & lt;/a & **** & r & This makes last year's fabulously inscrutable Blueberry Boat sound like easy listening. With Choir, the siblings Friedberger are making music with an untouchable sense of ambition. As confident visionaries who disdain traditional pop sensibilities, the Furnaces specialize in inchoate inventiveness and sonic assemblage. Call it Rauschenberg for the ears.

The band's musical and lyrical platform for play extends with grandmother Olga Sarantos sharing "vocal" responsibilities with Eleanor in these musical games of personal history and mythmaking. She adds layers of inaccessibility to a well-established sense of confusion. Call it child's play for adults.

The "songs" are quirky noise concoctions without particular concern for conventional verse or chorus patterns. Guitar, keys, drums, and bass are all there -- they just seem to have contempt for one another. The results, however, aren't a fragmented mess. The guiding aesthetic is dazzling experimentation for its own sake -- elegant evasiveness, gorgeous goofiness. It's too serious to be shrugged off as experimentation gone wrong. Rather, it's way right. -- Carey Murphy

& lt;a href= & quot; & amp;offerid=78941.464504049 & amp;type=10 & amp;subid= & quot; & Elizabethtown Soundtrack & lt;/a & *** & r & Sometimes you have to wonder if music writer-turned-filmmaker Cameron Crowe makes movies as an excuse to create a killer soundtrack. Like America's mixed-tape meister, over the years his films have revived classics like Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" and Elton John's "Tiny Dancer." And who can forget what he did with The Cars' "Moving in Stereo" in Fast Times at Ridgemont High?

On Elizabethtown, Crowe is supposedly trying for road trip music, as that's the film's central plot element. The music here is fine, but every road-trip tape I ever had was filled with stuff more like "Four Sticks" by Led Zepplin or "Runnin' Down a Dream" by Tom Petty. This CD is way too mellow for a road trip.

Still, with the likes of Tom Petty (mellow Petty, that is), Elton John and Lindsey Buckingham, it's all good. As a bonus, the highlights come from the less familiar names -- Patty Griffin, Helen Stellar, eastmountainsouth. Crowe and his fans (like me) are getting older; these days, maybe this is road-trip music. -- Ted S. McGregor Jr.

Santa Express

Through Dec. 20
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