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Thursday, January 29, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 31.0° F  Overcast
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Julian Casablancas: Phrazes for the Young

Here's the best thing about mp3s: They've reestablished the song as the preeminent musical form.

Pop music began its slow decline soon after CDs killed the 45. There was no way to buy a song, no way for three minutes of music to stand on their own anymore. And it took the implosion of the recording industry to change all that.

Ten years after being lost in a pop music wilderness, the song is making a comeback, and a new generation of music charts is sparking the interest of young listeners. Look no further than Sirius XM satellite radio's weekly Alt 18 and Download 15 countdowns as proof.

Julian Casablancas is a songwriter meant for these times. He pioneered a garage-rock revival at the beginning of this decade as lead singer and songwriter for the Strokes. He makes songs that ooze adrenaline and originality, like the 2006 hit "Juicebox."

On his first solo album, Casablancas sounds liberated from the Strokes' garage-rock brand. He takes a confident step toward pop that culminates in the excellent single "11th Dimension." It leads with an infectious synth riff that crashes into a chorus of muscular and melodic guitar rock.

The eight songs on this album change moods more than once. "Out of the Blue" is a rollicking rock ode to regret. "River of Brakelights" is dissonant electro-rock that brims with urban claustrophobia.

It makes sense that Phrazes for the Young is brief. Never mind the album; these are eight great songs.

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