Modest Mouse, "Strangers to Ourselves" (Epic)
On "Strangers to Ourselves," Modest Mouse often comes off like strangers to themselves. For a group that has maintained such a distinctive musical profile for so long, there's something about this album that makes it feel like the work of a band in flux. If most Modest Mouse albums can seem overstuffed and (too) long, that's even more of the case with this, the band's sixth studio effort, which goes all over the map stylistically and often pushes its forays to extremes. While there are twists and turns aplenty on every Modest Mouse journey, this one veers more widely and wildly, from jittery, off-kilter melodies to unexpectedly delicate atmospherics to bombastic electro-pop.
Arnold Pan, PopMatters.com
Minneapolis' Belfast Cowboys tip their hats to Van Morrison (and Bob Dylan) on a new collection of mostly originals, "The Upside to the Downslide," their first album in seven years. Due April 14. www.belfastcowboys.com