Eric Church, “The Outsiders” (EMI Nashville)
Church’s rep is built on being a rebel, and you can’t really rage against the machine when you are the machine. So on his new album, the country star consciously tries to move outside the mainstream again, looking to be more artistic. For the most part, he succeeds. His eight-minute epic “Devil, Devil (Prelude: Princess of Darkness)” combines a spoken-word allusion to Charlie Daniels with catchy gospel-tinged rock. On “That’s Damn Rock ’n’ Roll,” he raps, kind of, over an AC/DC guitar riff mixed with Rolling Stones grooves. “The Joint” is a must-hear if only for the low, rumbling grumble he uses to tell the story of his mama’s arsonist streak. Sometimes, he tries a little too hard, as on the title track — a hybrid of talking blues and hip-hop. He sounds natural when he delivers pleasant songs such as “Give Me Back My Hometown” and the catchy “Roller Coaster Ride,” as well as a soon-to-be bro country anthem, “Cold One.”
Glenn gamboa, Newsday
Melody and noise provide the tension on the Solids’ bracing “Blame Confusion.” The Montreal guitar/drums duo owes debuts to Dinosaur Jr. and Japandroids. The album, out on Tuesday, is streaming on Pitchfork.com/advance.