I've just been absolutely blown away by The Hazards Of Love, the latest album by US folk-rockers The Decemberists. It's a song cycle (that sounds SO much better than concept album) about...well, all the usual things that happen in folk songs, and the music ranges from sensitive, delicate finger-picking to unhinged heavy metal riffing. There's more than a hint of the Incredible String Band, Steeleye Span and my old darlings Fairport Convention too, and it's all utterly glorious.
I've also been enjoying The Liberty Of Norton Folgate, by Madness, which is far more than a nostalgic return to their early 80s heyday (not that I'd complain about that too much). With Mike Barson, always their best songwriter, on board, they go heavy on the Kinks' influence and create something genuinely contemporary. They've even talked about it being inspired by Ian Sinclair's books! A long way from Baggy Trousers. Or maybe not.