These new albums are hitting music shelves -- or online catalogs -- this month. By Sam Machkovech


Long before Bright Eyes front man Conor Oberst shared protest-song stages with Bruce Springsteen and R.E.M., he wasjust a teen making acoustic cassette demos under his own name. Oberst’snew self-titled album sees a return to his simpler origins, as thesongs on it have far fewer of the indie orchestral swells and overtpolitical statements his band is known for. But there’s still plenty ofthe Dylan-esque country-folk tunes, melancholic lyrics, and warblingvocals that have made Bright Eyes a college-radio sensation.

Pop-rocker Juliana Hatfield has never shied away from making a lot of noise as a solo artist. Evenat 40, Hatfield is still pulling off the half-angry, half-nervouscontrast that made her a star in early ’90s MTV hits like “My Sister.”But on her tenth studio album, How to Walk Awayshe doesn’t just slash her cooing voice with grinding guitars; shetakes confident detours into calmer waters that are complete with lushproduction, twinkling guitars, and tasteful soft-pop melodies.