I Have Big Plans for the World, by Beki Hemingway

The latest six-song effort by Beki Hemingway—a distant relative of Ernest—finds her in fine voice, singing with a poised balance of tough and tender. And she has an able partner in husband-guitarist Randy Kerkman, who coproduces this disc.

Fade, by Yo La Tengo

Many bands have combined minimalist composition with maximalist guitar noise. Yo La Tengo does this best, carrying on without so much as a chord change while guitarist Ira Kaplan screeches and wails away. But the trio also stands out because this is far from its only trick. YLT brings an encyclopedia of influences and a knack for moody, tasteful arranging.

Up Like the Clouds by Dubl Handi

Banjo player Hilary Hawke has displayed her fine chops and deep folk foundations in several ensembles. Here she pares things down to a duo, but the sound isn’t all that spare.