Athens, Georgia native Matthew Houck has made a sneaky good music catalog over the last ten years as Phosphorescent. Houck has made six scrappy folk rock albums that has largely gone unnoticed but with his latest Muchacho, not only does he have an album with an awesome title but he may finally be set up for a bit of a breakout with his most cohesive and accessible album yet.
After dropping our Review Royale of the new Justin Timberlake album this week, we thought it would be a good idea to tackle artists that have gone solo for our list this week. We already broke down the best albums released by an artist after going solo in honor of Jack White releasing his first solo record. So we thought, “Why not just look at solo artists career as a whole, after leaving their band/group.” Easy enough to find plenty to pick from, but exceedingly difficult to pick just ten for this particular list. We had to axe a couple that simply didn’t have enough solo material to justify putting them above more established solo musicians (Dan Auerbach and Jack White). We just can’t be sure which direction people with just one solo album will go. Back to the band or keep going on their own. Either way, there were some very tough cuts, but we think we came away with a list worthy of your attention. Enjoy, and let us know who we missed, left off, or shouldn’t have included at all.
10. Justin Timberlake
Following the “hiatus” of ‘N Sync in 2002, JT quickly released his solo debut Justified. I know of at least a few sophomores and juniors in high school who couldn’t resist the former boy-bander’s cool pop sound. Little did we all know, Justified would serve as merely a bridge to even more progressive and layered pop sounds. FutureSex/LoveSounds and The 20/20 Experience have done more than show off JT’s love of the backslash, affirming Timberlake as pop icon.
Somewhere in the flood of good music that came about as a result of The Strokes’ post-punk garage-rock revival, people began to forget about The Strokes themselves. In 2001 they were a breath of fresh air to the music world as they released us from the chains of 90′s boys bands and wuss-rock like the Gin Blossoms. They brought back new wave, fuzz, and not giving a shit all in one fell swoop. Now when they release an album people shrug their shoulders, which is somewhat ironic since Julian Casablancas was the one who taught us how to shrug again in the first place. Even as early 2006, after the release of very good third album, I remember wondering why people had already seemed to not care about them as much. And yes First Impressions of Earth WAS actually good. Sure, they have a formula and they stick to it, but I commend them for that. I really love the seemingly simple yet quite intricate way they execute their songs. So after struggling more than usual to find greatness in their new release, I still have found enough victories in Comedown Machine to find it enjoyable.
The 20/20 Experience
Going into my first listen of The 20/20 Experience my expectations were high, but also slightly tempered. Justin Timberlake hasn’t released an album in seven years, instead choosing to focus on his acting career. Maybe after stinkers like In Time, Yogi Bear (assuming), and Trouble With The Curve (again assuming), JT thought it would be prudent to turn his focus back to music. He could not have been more right. With R&B coming more to the forefront of the music landscape last year on the backs of Frank Ocean and Miguel, it was time for Timberlake to reassert his dominance in this particular arena.
How Music Works
The great Talking Heads front man David Byrne wrote the generically titled How Music Works late last year, but the book is anything but generic. Byrne has never released a auto-biography about himself or the band, but he coyly uses this book and the various subjects in the book to essentially give huge glimpses of his personal story. The title makes it sound like it may describe how music works from a physiological or neurological standpoint, but that’s obviously not Byrne’s expertise. His expertise however, as a 40-year music industry expert is to discuss all the external factors that affect the music that is made – including the venue, the recording process, technology, the trends, and much more.