The Portland, Ore., band Blitzen Trapper has spent seven albums refining its style, which mixes Americana, folk and rock with a wild-eyed psychedelic side. Its newest record is titled VII.
Singer-songwriter Eric Early wrote a piece for the New York Times Opinionator blog last year called "The Tale of The Seed and The Song," and we'll find out about some of the seeds of these new songs here.
The Scottish band Travis formed in Glasgow in 1990 and had major worldwide success with 1999's The Man Who. Its success helped lay the groundwork for other soaring and smooth pop-rock groups — including Coldplay and Keane, which achieved stardom shortly after Travis' breakthrough.
The British folk trio Bear's Den (Joey Haynes, Andrew Davie and Kev Jones) has put out a string of EPs in the U.K., the latest being Agape, for the label owned by Mumford & Sons' Ben Lovett. Hear the rich harmonies and warm vibe of Bear's Den in this session for World Cafe.
The Georgia band Of Montreal put out its first record in 1997, and leader Kevin Barnes has taken a step forward with each album since. The recent Lousy With Sylvianbriar represents a major turn toward reverence for the songwriting process — and away from layering backing tracks and relying on a dazzling live show.
High Hopes is a different sort of release for Bruce Springsteen. It features original and cover songs that had been performed live over the years, some never recorded in a studio setting, as well as a few older songs reconceived with new arrangements and musicians.
Anna Fox Rochinski, Shane Butler and John Andrews make up the Boston psych-folk band Quilt. Together, they released their self-titled debut in 2011 and spent the spring of last year in New York City recording Held in Splendor, which comes out later this month.