Built to Spill, Meat Puppets

There's nothing more difficult for a rock band than overcoming a mid-life crisis. Built to Spill's first album in five years, 2006's You in Reverse, though, is a testament to the band's collective coming of age. Songs like "Goin' Against Your Mind" and "Conventional Wisdom" are given room to develop and breathe. "A lot of the way things sounded in the past was based on my insecurities, with my voice, with the guitar playing, with everything," indie guitar god and BTS frontman Doug Martsch said around the time of You's release. "When we finally got back together, it was like we needed to figure out what we wanted to sound like. I'd say the album is an attempt to really define ourselves as a band — who we are now."

All the way across the indie-rock spectrum, the Meat Puppets' reunion was the feel-good music story of 2007. Rise to Your Knees, desert-scorched brothers Curt and Cris Kirkwood's first album together since 1995's misleading No Joke!, is a welcome return to their spoon-cooked amalgam of spaghetti-western country and reckless punk — only now the guitars melt instead of fry.

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Austin Powell