Psych-pop composer Bill Baird moved from his native Austin to study experimental music at Mills College, and he's since produced one of the most interesting albums of the year. Spring Break of the Soul is a salute to weird America that fits in perfectly with Oakland. The ambitious, seventeen-track album explores pop in its various forms: There's a spaced-out cover of Christopher Cross' "Sailing"; string-laden love songs with the dark intensity of Syd Barrett; and absurd and infectious melodies that recall They Might Be Giants. Baird was a founding member of Sound Team, an Austin-based indie-rock band that signed to Capitol Records in 2005, but got dropped after its debut album sold poorly. Baird continued performing under the moniker Sunset and as a solo artist, self-releasing a plethora of experimental lo-fi records that earned him comparisons to early Beck. His style is both disorienting and comforting. Let's hope we get to keep him.
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