DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS, 

The Unraveling (ATO): ***

Frontman Patterson Hood and bandmate Mike Cooley howl with indignation that recalls the urgency of career highs “Decoration Day” and “The Dirty South.” “Babies in Cages” wrenches to a bluesy groove, while “Thoughts and Prayers” pairs hopeful country strums with merciless damnation (“The Powers That Be are in for shame and comeuppance/ When Generation Lockdown has their day”); white supremacist violence, societal corporatization and the opioid epidemic also take hits from thundering drums and guitars, as does the anxiety poisoning the national spirit until, as Hood swears during “Armageddon’s Back in Town,” “you can’t tell the darkness from the flame.” Righteous rock. Drivebytruckers.com

FIELD MUSIC, Making a New World (Memphis Industries): ***½

Clever 19-track song cycle from creatively restless brothers David and Peter Brewis that mushroomed out of a project undertaken with the UK’s Imperial War Museum about WWI’s aftereffects. Bookended by instrumentals evoking war’s surreality and scars, it draws esoteric connections to modern times. The synth-stabbing “Between Nations” segues into the legato piano and guitar of “A Change of Heir”; pop hooks and a martial drumbeat drive “Do You Read Me?” about the aviation industry’s rise; war reparations translate into a Talking Heads-worthy riff (“Money is a Memory”); funky dance tune “Only in a Man’s World” celebrates the development of women’s sanitary napkins. Emotionally dissonant but compositionally compelling . Field-music.co.uk

TORRES, Silver Tongue (Merge): ***

“Are you planning to love me through the bars of a golden cage?” Occupying producer’s chair alone for her fourth album, Mackenzie Scott sounds more personal, assessing love’s fears, giddy thrills, deflating losses and stages with dispassionate clarity. That paradoxical distance, reinforced by the push-pull dynamic between Scott’s vulnerable vocals and cold synths, imparts a strangely humanizing charge to standout tracks such as “Good Scare,” “Records of Your Tenderness” (“You smoked Parliament blues in my living room/ And I went and hoarded the ash”), the guitar-warmed “Gracious Day” and “Good Grief” (“There’s no such thing”). torrestorrestorres.bandcamp.com

COURTEENERS, More. Again. Forever. (Ignition): ***

Six albums into their career, the Manchester veterans venture beyond their indie-rock base with stock-taking balladry (“Better Man”) and pounding hooks that all but demand concert sing-alongs (“Heart Attack”). Frontman Liam Fray mangles metaphors (“Hanging Off Your Cloud”) but doesn’t shy away from vulnerability or angered pride while measuring distances traveled, personally and commercially, particularly with the angsty “Heavy Jacket” (“Don’t get me started on the lifestyle engineers/ Wake up one day with Van Gogh’s hands but nothing between the ears”). thecourteeners.com