[image-1]We enjoyed checking out Athens indie band Elf Power’s new album, In a Cave (Rykodisc), this week. Four of the Elves perform tonight at the Map Room in West Ashley with a handful of openers.

In a Cave is strange and cool, balanced between two very different “personalities” of the band. This week’s feature on the band goes into how these songs came together. Here’s a bit more on the new collection itself:

[image-2]“A Tired Army” epitomizes the drowsy/trancy side of things, with a distorted 6/8 drum beat, plunky saloon piano, mysterious creaks and groans (was that a rocking chair or a stylus skipping on vinyl). It’s like a theme song to a pilled-out slow dance at the Syd Barrett weirdo prom. “Window to Mars” is an even loopier dream state, with warped keyboards, backward guitar work, and singer/guitarist Andrew Rieger’s high-pitched psychedelic ramblings (“I’ve seen you hiding in the dark, staring at the stars … window to Mars”). The buzzsaw guitar and flappy snare drum rhythms on lead-off track “Owl Cut (White Flowers in the Sky)” match Rieger’s “soaring buzzing mind.” Things get even more disturbing on the delicate “The Demon’s Daughter” — a slow-moving ballad, guided by acoustic guitar and lilting harmonies, beautiful cello work, xylophone, and oscillating guitar sounds.

On the more rock side of the collection, “Spiral Stairs” kicks with a swingin’ beat, fuzz bass and fuzzier guitar, electric piano, doubled vocal tracks (“I walked alone into places unknown, where the wild creatures played with the children all day,” Rieger sings). The classic Elf sound is all over “Paralyzed,” a reverb-laced, slightly rockabilly number that resembles The Feelies’ stiff and muscular guitar embellishments (Rieger deserves praise and a cold brewskie for the great acoustic guitar solo).

A T. Rex-meets-Ringo Starr sound propels the heady “New Lord.” Those heavy four-chord verses pound along during the straight-beat “Softly Through the Void,” replete with wispy vocal harmonies, clangy tambourine, and accordion and cello … or the magic tape mellotron machine that drummer Eric Harris built.