Damon Albarn leads the charge this week, with the release of his debut solo album. Don’t miss a stunning effort from Nat Baldwin though, and if you’re in for an interesting record, discover the reinvention of Brookline-bred soul man Eli “Paperboy” Reed.
|Damon Albarn – “Everyday Robots”|
The first solo album from former Blur frontman and Gorillaz mastermind Damon Albarn is something of a black sheep in the artists evolving pop pedigree. Whereas Blur grew to become one of the great acts of Britpop history, and Gorillaz put a melange of different artists and aesthetics together as a recipe for widespread laud, “Everyday Robots” doesn’t quite beg for chart success, but rather hits more subtle artistic angles. It’s no surprise that Albarn chooses to collaborate with Brian Eno, a man who helped David Byrne, another jack-of-all-trades, produce some of his most original and stunning work. “Everyday Robots” does more to please those who have drank the James Blake or Disclosure kool-aid than those who yearn for a revival of the Euro forces of yore. British pop isn’t burning off of the same fuel it was a decade ago, and it seems to be Albarn’s mission to once again reinvent it.
|Wye Oak – “Shriek”|
Baltimore indie folk duo Wye Oak have had a prolific six years in the game, putting out five releases since the band’s 2007 debut, “If Children.” Throughout that time, the group has gone through a gradual departure from the “folk” imprint, landing on their latest effort, “Shriek,” with a mindset for airy intellectual funk. Their conceptual aim remains sharp, in that light not straying too far from the folk sphere. The combination of Jenn Wasner’s silky vocal style juxtaposed on commanding beats that draw similarity to the styles of Warpaint, even St. Vincent, makes for a grab-gag listen that is more often forward-thinking and engaging than the opposite.
|Eli “Paperboy” Reed – “Nights Like This”|
Brookline-bred howler Eli “Paperboy” Reed has been approaching soul music in various ways for the better part of the decade, wowing audiences of all kinds, but never quite finding the niche that Daptone artists and throwback acts of the same ilk have. With “Nights Like This,” Reed doesn’t ditch his signature wail, but takes a very different musical path, experimenting with more modern pop constructions over solid gold oldies. The result is something that might strike fans of Janelle Monae or Fitz and the Tantrums the right way. It’s the launch of Eli “Paperboy” Reed the pop star. Some may not want to accept it, but others (especially new listeners) might love it.
|Nat Baldwin – “In The Hollows”|
Dirty Projectors bassist Nat Baldwin is one of the more prolific artists to bubble out of the Brooklyn hotbed. Between his work with the Projectors as well as his solo career, which has yielded six albums now, Baldwin is a fountain of creative thought, and utilizer of the road less traveled. “In The Hollows” barely seems minimalist, but it’s only because his work on the upright bass covers so much ground. His foundation of staccato brush strokes acts as a trampoline for layers upon layers to his music. The result often takes an almost symphonic shape, gathering an enormous sound that could sink in with fans of indie rock as much as it could open-minded electronic fans.
|RiFF RAFF – “Neon Icon”|
RiFF RAFF is one of the more foolish characters in Internet meme rap, which gets him about zero rap credibility, even if he kind of deserves some. Yes, he dies his husky blue using vegan hair dye, he is an aspiring country artist under the name Jody Highroller, and was in a rap group with Andy Milonakis, but there’s something about the full package that not only entertaining, but actually pretty engaging. His mere presence lampoons the rap industry, but in a way that’s completely genuine, to the point where it’s taken seriously. Seriously enough, anyway, for artists like Drake and 2 Chainz to make an appearance on “Neon Icon.”