Some might argue that the output of Gorillaz was akin to solo albums by Damon Albarn in all but name – with added high-profile collaborators. Regardless, the real thing, Albarn's first official solo LP is arriving in 2014. Last week, we got our first teaser in the shape of 21-second YouTube video with Albarn sitting at a piano with his back to the camera. The music which plays over it – scant electronic sounds and a mournful piano motif – gives little away.
The album, as yet unnamed, will be released on the great independent label XL Records. This week, another longer video emerged, featuring a montage of music from Albarn's long career before segueing into the same 21-second clip. It will be fascinating to see what he comes up with in this inaugural, solo flight. Roll on 2014.
Burial's dubstep livens up the deadzone
Traditionally, December is a deadzone for new music: all you tend to get is record labels giving their back catalogue a lick of paint in the hopes of selling Christmas presents. Obviously the digital era has made it rather easier to circumvent this yuletide custom and Beyoncé's surprise album drop last week has blown the doors off the whole process.
And she's not the only one with December releases. Dubstep maven Burial has put out a 28-minute-long three-track EP, Rival Dealer, while plenty of bands are teasing tracks ahead of new year album releases. I was particularly taken with a song by Seattle singer-songwriter Damien Jurado. He releases his 11th studio album on 20 January, the dramatically titled Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son. It's been preceded by the excellent lead single "Silver Tongue", a fine psych-rock number.
The always interesting St Vincent – aka American solo artist Annie Clark – recently announced the forthcoming release of her self-titled fifth album, coming out on 24 February. There's also a short tour on the way with St Vincent and her band playing Manchester and London in March, alongside dates in a handful of other European cities including Paris and Dublin.
Gig of the week
In my head, the Belgian brother duo 2ManyDJs will always evoke the sound of around about 2002/3, back when everyone was going wild for eclectic mashups. But the producer/DJ pair are still going strong: the brothers are in Manchester next Saturday for a set at the relaunched Sankeys club.