Tag Archives: Damon Albarn

Lekman New EP – Albarn in Africa – Commonplace Country

21 Jul

I have been so caught up with my exploration of new talent that I have not posted a version of Music News since July 4, 17 days ago. Some probably thought that I was nixing the entire category. Nope, not quite, perhaps scaling back a bit, but not destroying it as a whole. I still want to provide my take on a few music-related items from the news. Let’s get to it.

Jens Lekman Will Release New EP

It may be safe to say that many readers do not know of 30-year-old Swedish musician Jens Lekman and that is definitely a shame. His blend of old pop, witty lyric and sampled strings/sounds is endearing. While he has only released two full-length LPs, he has released numerous EPs and he will add to his EP list this September with his five-song An Argument With Myself.

Lekman consistently receives good reviews from music writers because his style and voice are infectious. This will be his first release in four years. I’m excited. I have only recently gotten into Lekman, but his style of pop is refreshing. I’d certainly urge you readers to take a listen to Lekman’s music. It is not for everyone, but at least you can appreciate its creativity. Take a listen to “Waiting For Kirsten,” a track off of the upcoming EP. (The song starts at 2:50)

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Damon Albarn to Record New Record in Africa

Blur/Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn has announced he will record a new album in the Republic of Congo. Gorillaz can meet some actual gorillas. He intends to record the album in a week without contracting malaria or being mauled by…a gorilla. Okay, I added that last part. Joining him on this African album safari are Kwes, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Franz Ferdinand producer Dan The Automator, hip-hop producer Jneiro Jarel, XL Recordings boss Richard Russell, Actress, Marc Antoine and Jo Gunton.

Currently, Albarn is performing in Doctor Dee, an opera he wrote.

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Is Country Music Leveling Out?

Dave Heaton of PopMatters wrote an article yesterday about the lack of major country music released this year. In the article, he claims that Country music, like Hollywood, is recycling old material.

“For the first half of the year, the #1 country songs in Billboard’s charts were from 2010, or older, like Miranda Lambert’s “Heart Like Mine”, from her 2009 album Revolution,” he writes. “The #1 country albums were from last year – by Jason Aldean, Taylor Swift, Zac Brown Band, Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts – with only a couple of relatively well-known groups releasing albums this year that made the charts (Sara Evans and Thompson Square, for example). By June we did have new albums from Brad Paisley, Ronnie Dunn and Dolly Parton, and more big-ish albums are on the way this summer… but still, the pickings have been slim.”

The article poses the question, what has happened to country music this year? Why is there a lack quality, new releases for listeners to enjoy? Country itself is a limited genre. What I mean by that is there are only so many changes you can make to a country song to make it original. Eventually, when paired with a lack of creativity, this all leads to a stall in quality releases. I am not implying that today’s country stars are untalented. Currently, they are leaning on old material and popular tours. The releases this year have been hokey and tired. Will this improve? The simple answer is yes. I do not believe Country music is leveling out, but rather taking a break.

Look at American Idol this past season. The winner and runner-up were both Country performers. And since winner Scotty McCreery’s attempts at singing any non-Country song were embarrassing, he perpetuated the message and sound of Country each and every week. And, he won. America loves it’s Country music. If you took a poll it would most likely be considered the “National” sound, which is slightly scary, but true. Country followers are loyal to their music and since there will always be a market, the talent will refresh itself constantly.

Read the article

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap – An English Opera

20 Jun

AC/DC Monopoly?

Park Place...is on FIRE

In what will perhaps be the most high voltage Monopoly spin-off, AC/DC has signed up to release a Collector’s Edition Monopoly game later this year.

Players will be able to play as a cannon, bundle of dynamite, lightning bolt, etc., instead of the traditional dog, car or thimble. AC/DC and Milton Bradley despoil some warped rock utopia. Players will buy and sell AC/DC records and attempt to improve their properties with gold and platinum records. Extravagance, AC/DC style.

While I think the whole novelty Monopoly shtick is a little old, the AC/DC version does not bother me. I think it’s pretty funny. I wonder if Bon Scott shouts “Jailbreak, I got to break out out of here” when you roll doubles and get out of prison.

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Damon Albarn Opera

Damon Albarn is easily bored. With Gorillaz on break, Albarn has decided to write and star in Dr Dee, an opera about 16th Century alchemist, astrologer and spy John Dee.

Dr Dee is set to run from July 1-9 at the Manchester International Festival. It will then be staged at the home of the English National Opera as part of London’s Cultural Olympiad program,” writes Consequence of Sound.

Check out “Apple Carts” a song from the opera.

It’s excellent. Albarn’s voice is tender and the acoustic guitar meshes perfectly with his accomplice’s medieval instruments. The intention was certainly to give off that medieval flare and the song does so with proficiency.

Gorillaz Have New Cartoon – CSN Leaves RR and C – Chilly Music Proven

13 Jan

Gorillaz Sign On New Band Member

Back in November Gorillaz beckoned their fans to submit drawings for a new cartoon character they would add to their animated band. Do you know how hard it is to snatch up a new band member out of the cartoon realm. It’s much harder than simply drawing someone up. Gorillaz gave a broad description as to the appearance of the Evangelist, the new character. Basically, they said he was the opposite of the saturnine, gas mask wearing Boogieman character who has already appeared in some videos (see Stylo).

So, Gorillaz listeners took the call and over 5,000 submitted what they thought the Evangelist should look like. I would have just sent in a photo of Billy Graham. After sifting through submissions, Daman Albarn and Jamie Hewlett decided on a drawing by a user named Jirouta. Hewlett redrew it and this, my friends, is the Evangelist:

Ha...Doesn't look like the harbinger of right-winged christian theology

Well…that’s terrifying. Jirouta gets a framed, signed print of the photo in a gift pack (pretty awesome deal) and Gorillaz has their new cartoon member. He looks like what would happen if you dunked Benson from Regular how into the ocean…a radioactive ocean.

New Gorillaz character...part 2?

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Long Time Gone

Crosby Still and Nash have parted ways with producer Rick Rubin and Columbia records after planning on releasing an album of cover songs. It seems that the folk band lost patience with the producer, who was working to complete other projects before delving into the CSN covers album.

CSN had previously stated that Rubin was quite picky in his song choices. In an interview with Spinner, David Crosby said, “We write down a list of songs we think are potentials, learn them, make up our version, and sing them for him. He’ll like maybe one out of eight, so we go back to the drawing board and learn another eight or 10. It’s a very slow process.”

I haven’t heard anything about CSN releasing this album independently or on a different label. Until then enjoy CSN performing “Ruby Tuesday.”

Link: http://www.spinner.com/2011/01/11/crosby-stills-and-nash-covers-album/

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Music and Science!


According to a study from The Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital — The Neuro at McGill University, scientific pleasure can be released by listening to music. The study, released in the Nature Neuroscience journal, proves that listening to music releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter linked with pleasure. You see, music is not just murdering our hearing.

The report was released in article from yesterday’s Science Daily.

“The team at The Neuro measured dopamine release in response to music that elicited “chills,” changes in skin conductance, heart rate, breathing, and temperature that were correlated with pleasurability ratings of the music. A novel combination of PET and fMRI brain imaging techniques, revealed that dopamine release is greater for pleasurable versus neutral music, and that levels of release are correlated with the extent of emotional arousal and pleasurability ratings.”

Hooray for science. The article is an interesting read and certainly proves that music is a vital part of human nature. I mean we did not need a genius to tell us that music is pleasurable, but it does help to have the scientific proof!

Link: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110112111117.htm

The Best Songs of 2010: #6: “Stylo” by Gorillaz

24 Dec

By far the best number picture I have posted thus far

When I mention Gorillaz what do you think of? For those who are more unfamiliar with the band, the popular thought may be that they are the group that is not real. They are cartoon characters, right? Very successful cartoon characters.

Since being created by Damon Albarn, who is also the frontman for Blur, and cartoonist Jamie Hewlett, this “virtual band” proved quickly that The Archies were not the only cartoon characters capable of singing and playing instruments. I would venture to say that 2D, Murdoc Niccals, Noodle and Russel Hobbs, are the best animated band to ever play music. It helps that their eponymous debut album sold seven million copies, a Guinness Book record for a virtual band.

But, that was a long time ago. Just this past year Gorillaz released their third studio album Plastic Beach. The albums first single “Stylo” peaked at the 24th spot on the Billboard Alternative Chart. Here at the Music Court it gets better treatment.

Song: “Stylo”

Band: Gorillaz

Gorillaz Broin' Out

“Stylo” was released as a single in January 2010. And, in typical Gorillaz fashion, it features guest star vocals and a cameo in the semi-animated video. One must understand that Gorillaz music is more so a work of art. What I mean by that is you must consider everything before judging the song. In this case, you must watch the video in coordination with the song in order to get a true picture of the song. So before I go into analyzing it I will include the video below.

The song begins with a beat. It’s a funky line that sets the scene well. This hip-hop, alternative dance beat repeats throughout the song. A car’s engine is heard while a car accelerates at the viewer in the video. I love how Mos Def‘s initial rap coincides with the police officer and his cop car. The Stylo car is going to pass at a high speed and he is going to pursue. The rap falls at a great time because it is actually being spit through the police radio (notice the thumping speaker at around 20 seconds). Gorillaz often do an exceptional job combining visual and auditory stimulants that excite and please the listener. Like I implied above, listening to a Gorillaz song and watching any released visual material is like watching a short film. Art and music are combined effortlessly.

The guest vocal is done by Bobby Womack. That’s right, the renowned soul singer/songwriter. He was convinced by his daughter to do the collaboration because she was a fan of Gorillaz. Womack told Rolling Stone that he was unsure why they wanted him. His daughter said that Womack was “hip to them” and he went for it. At the studio, Womack was told to sing whatever came to mind during the recording. So, let’s set the scene. Accomplished songwriter comes into studio and is basically told to do vocal improv. Womack did just that and became so passionate that he actually started to pass out. He is a diabetic. He was fine and the song received a strong vocal addition.

The best part of the song is the best part of the video. It is very well why this song made it onto the countdown. Bruce Willis, traveling in a red 1968 Chevrolet El Camino, begins to shoot at the animated characters as Bobby Womack has a momentary explosion and does a pure rock n’ roll scream. The end of the song and video shows Willis running the other car off the road. The car dives into the water and turns into a whale with tail lights. And you are left saying…wow…that was awesome, both the song and video.

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