A former cog in the Defunkt Big Band machine, Death in Vegas has gradually morphed into a sophisticated psych-rock band that quite fancies Ravi Shankar, mate. The group's conceptualists -- Richard Fearless and Tim Holmes -- now seem mostly uninterested in moving your bum; they'd rather soundtrack a journey to the center of your mind. The shift began with 1999's sporadically brilliant The Contino Sessions and continues on Scorpio Rising (note Kenneth Anger reference, cinéastes).
Once again enlisting a rotating cast of marquee singers (including Paul Weller, Liam Gallagher, and Hope Sandoval) and solid session players (legendary violinist L. Subramaniam especially shines), Death in Vegas looks back in languor at late-'60s psychedelia, layers on loads of sitar, and taps many an effects pedal in honor of shoegaze's heyday, to boot. Compared to Contino's heart of darkness, though, Scorpio Rising radiates an ethereal, spiritualized bliss. Roll over, Roger McGuinn, and tell Jason Pierce the news.