It makes sense that Denton, Texas, quintet Midlake will be giving an afternoon performance at Noise Pop. Not only do their music videos, which often feature strange creature masks and nightmarish situations just on the edge of reality, stay with me well into the next day's daydreams, but their music deserves our full attention. After they were signed by the United Kingdom's Bella Union, they started playing Europe, and the castles-and-robbers imagery in their "Bandits" video may come from sneaking into the hills while on tour. Wherever it comes from, it doesn't let up, and neither does the spell cast by their dreamy sounds.
Their Milkmaid Grand Army EP (Basement Front), put out by the band while attending the North Texas School of Music and reissued last year by Basement Front, isn't very good. It's rock. It's fine. But it doesn't simmer and shine like The Trials of Van Occupanther (Bella Union, 2006), which is nothing short of awesome. From recreating the majesty of falling snow on "It Covers the Hillside" to testing the world on "Van Occupanther" ("They told me I wouldn't / But I found an answer"), the ensemble finds an elegant niche between CSNY-style harmonies and the deeply affecting use of textured layers of sound, reminiscent of the Flaming Lips at the turn of the century. They may be in the middle of the lake, but their light refracts in crazy constellations, far and wide. (Ari Messer)
With Minipop, Ester Drang, and Minmae
March 4, 1 p.m., $10
Bottom of the Hill
1233 17th St., SF