Bon IverBon Iver (Jagjaguwar)
On his 2008 debut For Emma, Forever Ago, Bon Iver's Justin Vernon delivered spare, emotionally-charged folk tunes that chronicled a messy break-up. The album earned him no shortage of fans — most notably, Kanye West, who featured the elusive Wisconsin-based singer on last year's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. On his second set, Vernon has upped the ante and expanded his circle to include ace session whizzes like pedal-steel player Greg Leisz. Once again, Vernon scores big by cultivating enchanted atmosphere, gorgeous melodies, unique textures, and beautiful singing. And his idiosyncratic gift for lyric-writing only adds to the album's sonic mysteries. "Armour let it through/Borne the arboretic truth you kept posing"? It's the kind of couplet that would trip up even the most accomplished of Joyce scholars.