Music cognoscenti everywhere will probably agree that 2005 was the year of "New American Weird." From Sufjan Stevens to Iron & Wine, nu-Americana, folktronica or whatever you call it is fast becoming the new American sound, at least among the mop-top and Puma set. Tempe-based Skybox's new release, Arco Iris, stakes a concrete claim in the genre with an album of incredibly rich profundity and beauty. From cackling Tom Waits piano to a Muse-like knack for orchestral arrangement, holy falsetto harmonies dance over soothing synthesizers on "It's a Bumpy Ride on the Back of a Camel," and the band downshifts into a mesmerizing Brian Eno mood on "Gravity Can't Keep Us Down." A live Skybox show is nothing short of an event: scented themes, pirates and cupcakes. Perhaps whoever coined the New American Weird moniker was listening to Skybox; if not, they will be.


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