Milton Mapes

This five-piece ensemble has its roots in Austin, but the local scene is no stranger to their brand of off-kilter, almost ambient country. After releasing two well-received but poorly distributed albums, the band came of age with this year's The Blacklight Trap. Approaching country in the same way as Neil Young (warily), singer/guitarist Greg Vanderpool and longtime collaborator Roberto Sanchez construct rustic takes on urban concerns. Layers and textures almost disguise the potency of the songs, but the band knows just when to turn the volume back up, just when to reengage. Songs like "When the Earth's Last Picture is Painted" and "Bowie AZ" are remarkable mixtures of attack and withdraw, the satisfaction of a drink and its assured repercussions. The music of Milton Mapes requires attention between beers, but it's worth it.

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