The big idea: Quirky rocker releases concept album about internet trolls

Metal music: Musician Jonathan Coulton, who will play with Aimee Mann on June 26, is best known for his goofy but heartfelt songs about zombies and killer robots.
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It’s the future now!

A quirky Park Slope musician who spent a year releasing weekly songs about zombies and supervillains has returned with a single big idea — a concept album about Internet trolls, artificial intelligence, and empathy. Jonathan Coulton, who will play the Music Hall of Williamsburg with Aimee Mann on June 26, thinks that even in this age of downloads, there is still a place for a thematically unified album like “Solid State.”

“I grew up in the ’70s, and albums still remain an important concept for me,” Coulton says. “I think whether it’s a sci-fi concept album like ‘Solid State,’ or whether it’s just a collection of songs that an artist was doing at that time, that kind of bundling is a nice snapshot of what they’re thinking about.”

Coulton burst on the scene with his “Thing a Week” podcast in 2005, for which he wrote, recorded, and released a new song every seven days.

His highly tuneful, accessible pop rock often focuses on technology and pop culture, and his new album continues some of those themes.

For the project, Coulton also sought out a few collaborators. “Solid State” has a companion graphic novel written by Matt Fraction and drawn by Albert Monteys, and Coulton is now touring with his friend Aimee Mann, who sings on the album’s “All This Time” and a few other tracks.

“I did some singing and playing on her album, too,” Coulton says, “so it made sense for me to open for her. Synergy, they call it.”

Coulton values the contributions of other musicians on his records.

“You get a little bit of everybody’s musical DNA in there, and it’s kind of exciting,” he says.

Critical reaction to “Solid State” has been positive, but that does not mean listeners should expect a sequel — Coulton says he might return to small-scale stories.

“Next time I write an album, I don’t want to start with too ambitious an idea,” Coulton says. “But if one arrives, I’m game.”

Jonathan Coulton with Aimee Mann at Music Hall of Williamsburg (66 N. Sixth St. between Wythe and Kent avenues in Williamsburg, June 26 at 8 pm. $35.

Posted 12:00 am, June 22, 2017
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