A good headphone record is a temporary residence. With "Headphone World," experimental pop act the Busy Signals provided the most fitting of 20th Century Boy come-ons: "You look so cute with your cans on." These days we're all alone in headphones; they're part of Generation iPod's uniform. We're a community, even though one of us hears Hoobastank while the other hears Norah Jones. "The Original" Mark Edwards must live in headphones, because he manages to sound both isolated and thoroughly engaged with infectious pop. Fortunately, Edwards is just as concerned with what's on the speakers, and he brings a brave new world to the listener with his comfortably spacious debut, Rewind Tomorrow. Edwards, a Susstones Records chum, knows a thing or two about skyrocketing. His former band the Domo Sound channeled Radiohead's aerial paranoia and landed in front of a national audience in 1998 when they won a college band search and played on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Edwards has since scaled down to solo proportions, recording in his basement studio and inviting a few friends over to play drums and vibes.
The cans may have shrunken to ear buds, but the tech-lite bleeps Edwards pans to the left channel are no less penetrating. His drowsy vocals snake in through the right ear. In the center, circular guitar and laptop spills crackle like a synapse before the nerves unwind. Rewind Tomorrow could be the Ambien of drug records. In his Eno-meets-ELO tableau "Sleepy Memories," remnants are "injected like bee stings" while dissonant harmonies provide the perfect cue for a somnambulist mambo. Edwards's 2001-inspired "Three Minutes to Impact" re-imagines a simple urban stroll as a slow-motion trek through an airport walkway. Edwards finally claims his own utopia with the jubilant "I Wish I Could See Your Film," on which he harmonizes with an echo out of Lyndsay Buckingham's "Holiday Road"; he's even sunnier on "Hooray!" which sends the listener into the streets with a buoyant "What a glorious day!"