Ancient & Modern by the Mekons

One of the UK's pioneering punk groups, the Mekons got together in Leeds in 1977. Leader Jon Langford now calls Chicago home, and the group still produces music at a prolific pace.

Modern Art, by Matthew Sweet

On his first album since 2008, Sweet employs vinyl in the mastering process to sweeten the sound—a sign of his '60s-pop infatuation. Fans of Girlfriend-era Sweet may wish that this record rocked more; others may find its introspection a sign of growth.

Live from Kegworth Studio, by Phil Keaggy

Fans of guitar superslinger Phil Keaggy (which include, it is said, the late Jimi Hendrix) know that he's incredible live, the high quality of his studio discs not­withstanding. Here he combines studio precision and live spontaneity as he tackles classic-rock covers ("To Make You Feel My Love," "Here Comes the Sun") and his Christian-music chestnuts ("What a Day," "Salvation Army Band").

Mylo Xyloto, by Coldplay

Mylo Xyloto strives to be melodic and grandiose, thoughtful and commercial, a big seller but not a sellout. It's the artistic equivalent of trying to serve Zeus and mammon, and it doesn't come without risks.

Mockingbird Time, by the Jayhawks

Mark Olson and Gary Louris reunited for a duo record in 2008, but this is the first album they've made together with the Jayhawks in 16 years. The two harmonize like a countrified Simon and Garfunkel, and they write potent songs that stick to your synapses.