Nudged along by some creepily insistent guitars and a gripping melody, "High Times," from the fantastic new Elliott Smith rarities collection "New Moon," starts out sounding parched and weary, like the morning after a terrible night out. But about two-thirds of the way through, the fragile mood is shattered by an onslaught of cymbals that drive the song toward its crescendo before it recedes back into the shadows of Smith's voice and guitar. The fact that the singer-songwriter died so young -- at 34, in 2003 -- provides a tragic counterpoint to an already deeply emotional song.
-- David Marchese
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