May 17: Danger Mouse’s Rome

Brian Burton of Danger Mouse releases a new album featuring the voices of Norah Jones and Jack White.


Shortly after releasing his epochal Grey Album in 2004, Danger Mouse (real name Brian Burton, a cofounder of Gnarls Barkley and, more recently, Broken Bells) had a serendipitous meeting with Italian composer Daniele Luppi. The two forged a quick bond over a mutual love of spaghetti Western scores—“We were fascinated by the darker tracks of the Sixties and Seventies soundtracks,” says Luppi—and were soon taking meandering drives around Los Angeles and hatching a collaborative dream project: to write their own choir-backed orchestral pop opus for the same musicians once employed by Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone. Recorded at Rome’s cavernous Forum Studios with vintage instruments (bartered with bottles of wine), the album crescendoed when Jack White and Norah Jones added vocals to six of the pair’s haunting, ethereal arrangements. The result, Rome (out May 17), is a 15-track sonic dreamscape that just begs for the repeat button. “The Rose With the Broken Neck” is a warbled rambler that echoes White’s hiccupy, fearful falsetto. Though the project took five years to complete, Burton says he “never worried about it because the kind of record we were trying to make wouldn’t go out of style.”

17TH: Frank Ockenfels