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Indie darling Sufjan Stevens is finally back with his first full-length record since 2005’s critically acclaimed Illinois. This time, Stevens ditches the banjo and history-lesson lyrics for something more electronic and, perhaps surprisingly, more heartfelt. Sonically, it’s a strange at times, but its quirkiness is charming and there are several standout tracks, including “The Age of Adz,” “Too Much,” and “I Walked.”
For fans of: Grizzly Bear, Andrew Bird, Bon Iver
Scottish pop veterans Belle & Sebastian are also back with a long-awaited release that delivers the witty and sweet songs that they are known so well for. Minus a misstep duet with Norah Jones, this is a solid album that any B & S fan would love. Listen for actress Carey Mulligan’s winning debut in “Write About Love.”
For fans of: Camera Obscura, The Magnetic Fields, Jens Lekman
The Old 97s are equal parts garage rock and twang-y country, which puts them smack at the forefront of alternative country. Leader Rhett Miller wrote most of the songs while on tour in the UK, which probably accounts for both touches of brit-rock and American nostalgia. This foursome likes to play rock ‘n’ roll, but never forgets their country roots, which is clear on “A State Of Texas.”
For fans of: Drive-By Truckers, Son Volt, Rhett Miller