Fresh Cuts: Blur singer belts an opera, a new spin on Afrobeat

Look back to Fela.

This week in new music sees an "English Opera" through the eyes of a Britpop prince, Afrobeat kings, and Adam Bainbridge's kind change of mind.

Damon Albarn: Dr Dee (Virgin)

Dr. Dee is an opera by director Rufus Norris and musician Damon Albarn that debuted in England last summer as part of the 2011 Manchester International Festival -- the work explores the life of Elizabethan academic John Dee.

The studio album by Albarn features his vocals alongside contributions by Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen, the BBC Philharmonic, and others. Busy-bee Albarn managed to squeeze this release out between dropping Gorillaz's “Rocket Juice & the Moon” in March and a show of Olympic proportions this summer in London.

Fela Kuti: Live in Detroit, 1986 (Knitting Factory)

Speaking of Afrobeat, Knitting Factory Records has released a full-concert LP of Fela Kuti‘s 1986 show at Detroit’s Fox Theatre. The recording was part of Fela's debut tour in the United States with Egypt 80. This is the first time since Fela's 1992 studio album Underground System that new material has been issued for the Nigerian musician. Bonuses include extended live renditions of “Just Like That”, “Confusion Break Bones”, and “Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense.”

Kindness: World, You Need a Change of Mind (Casablanca/Terrible)

Groovy lo-fi god Adam Bainbridge's World, You Need a Change of Mind -- released under his Kindness moniker -- is a smooth slide into chill world where blissful vocals and wonked-out synths live together in harmony. It's a toe tapping, head bopping, summertime kind of album -- grab the sangria and take this to the park.

Here We Go Magic: A Different Ship (Secretly Canadian)

Brooklyn-based indie rock band Here We Go Magic's A Different Ship is a warm, warped, and loopy dip in the pool. Luke Temple's expanded five-piece band delves into percussion-driven melodies as vocals layer over playful synths. Here We Go Magic has created a record both choppy and calm at the same time -- kind of like the seas themselves.

On the move: Former SF outfit Lazer Sword announced a tour in support of its latest album Memory on the Monkeytown imprint. Lando Kal and Low Limit dropped their sophomore effort on April 27. The record is considered significantly minimal compared to previous releases, but the duo's obsession with hip-hop can still be heard throughout. Sexy sounding with thick bass thumps and the more playful elements of UK funky and electro, Memory is versatile -- also dipping into darker territories with super sinister melodies. The boys head to San Francisco for the next edition of Icee Hot at Public Works on May 27.

Julia B. Chan is a writer and hosts "Play for Today," a live radio program about new music on every Friday from 6 to 8pm. Follow her on Twitter @onTheBeat.