Online Special: On the Horizon…

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    Belle and Sebastian look to have a busy year planned. Along with gearing up for their longest-ever U.S. tour, the Glaswegian popsters look to release “The Life Pursuit” on Feb. 5 as their sixth full-length record. The lead-off single, “Funny Little Frog,” nods to the band’s acoustic popster past but also expounds on the formula with more elegant rhythms and hooks that sound straight out of the ’70s. “Frog” plays to Belle and Sebastian’s strengths, strong hooks and catchy melodies.Beth Orton, “Conceived,” from “Comfort of Strangers”

    Beth Orton’s music veers between idyllic pop and twangy alt-country. On “Conceived,” Orton takes former, kicking off the track with a stiff drum beat and acoustic guitar. The track showcases Orton’s transcendent voice and quirky lyrics. The accompanying video, complete with rabbit-puppets and a painted sky, may be the oddest video so far this year.

    Built To Spill, “Goin’ Against Your Mind,” from “You in Reverse”

    After a spot at last year’s Austin City Limits Music Festival, indie-rockers Built To Spill return with their first studio release since 2001’s “Ancient Melodies of the Future.” If the new track, “Goin’ Against Your Mind,” is any clue, the album continues down the path Built to Spill pioneered in earlier albums: soaring guitars, catchy hooks and extended jams. “You in Reverse” is expected to drop April 11.

    Guster, “Manifest Destiny/Sorority Tears,” from its as-yet unnamed upcoming album

    Guster has made a good career out of bouncy, bongo-driven pop songs, and “Manifest Destiny/Sorority Tears” is no exception. From the opening piano notes, the song is classic Guster, while still unlike anything they’ve ever done before. The band has hinted that this might be its most ambitious album yet, and the extended play-out gives credence to the rumors.

    – Darren White