You've got to admire a crew that aspires to be a string-band version of Radiohead. Mandolin shredder Chris Thile and his mates make that notion explicit on their third LP with a dumbfounding cover of "Kid A," the digital bloops and bleeps of the original translated into fiddle abstractions and clipped banjo chatter. Unlike the 40-minute-plus suite that filled out the group's 2008 debut, the songs here want to be songs, and instrumentals are mostly held at bay. Thile has a fine tenor, and if the originals don't reach pop heights, they strike a nice balance between old-school and modern. In "This Girl," a guy asks God to help him get a woman, while "New York City" savors the lonely romance of Gotham. The acoustic framework dazzles – wild virtuosity used for more than just virtuosity.
• Photos: Random Notes