Now well into their 40s, the enterprising gents from Nada Surf make smart, emotionally evolved music for those of us who aren’t afraid to rock out (discreetly) like someone half our age. Their new CD, The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy, takes its title from something lead singer Matthew Caws cribbed from his father, an esteemed philosophy professor at George Washington University in D.C.—which is pretty cool in itself. So it’s a nice bonus that the album’s potent power-pop and refreshingly grown-up perspective make it easily one of the best albums of this young year. Visit livenation.com. —Hobart Rowland
Hinting at the Beatles one minute and Tom Petty the next, this Glen Mills native can’t seem to attach himself to a single genre—and that makes his latest CD perfect for anyone with varied tastes. A bit of folk, a dash of blues and a tapas-sized helping of soul round out Phillips’ third effort. Catch him locally at Burlap and Bean in Newtown Square, where he plays the first Friday of each month. —Colleen Ray
Just in time for Easter, a fresh, relatable account of scriptural events and dialogue taken from one of the most mysterious religious events in history. A professor emeritus at Villanova University, Lynch conjures the inner monologues of Jesus’ female friends and followers after his crucifixion, exploring gender roles in early Middle Eastern society and opening doors seemingly sealed shut for thousands of years. —C.R.