Toronto’s indie rock collective Broken Social Scene are known for creating high art. Embracing sonic detail, seamlessly connecting vast dimensions of sound, and exploring untouched atmospheric landscapes is inherent. The frighteningly brilliant masterpiece that is Forgiveness Rock Record (May 2010) is a gorgeous example. Finally gravitating towards the pop tendencies that the group have toyed with for almost a decade, never have Broken Social Scene sounded so joyous, excited, and in love with the music they create.
Whereas earlier albums consist primarily of instrumentals, Forgiveness Rock Record finds the band playing with cryptic lyrics and elliptical word patterns, making this Broken Social Scene’s most accessible album yet. The tracks invite you to sing along, not just absorb. The album as a whole is more mature and direct, with a thematic bend that lends a sense of gravity to the music. Each song is a complete artistic piece, with all the integrity, allure, and complexity that fine art inspires. Rarely do songs sound so full. That is the nature of BSS. Each song is greater than the sum of its parts.
Broken Social Scene is known for bringing together a vast collective of musicians to fill out their sound. What began as an ambient post-rock collaboration between founding members Brendan Canning and Kevin Drew (the band’s 2001 debut Feel Good Lost) slowly evolved into the gorgeously fragmented super-collective sound nurtured in the mid-decade by the chaotic overdriven production style of David Newfield on 2002’s You Forgot It In People. The spiritual connection between the individuals, who at points have numbered 17, can be felt on each of the band’s 6 releases (4 full length albums, 1 B-Side album and 1 EP). The injection of inspiration from a mass of adventurous players creates huge washes of sound full of multi-colored textures that may overwhelm the casual listener. Forgiveness Rock Record sets itself apart by leaning on a slightly tighter group, while the “additional members” and “guests” number 31 strong. Longtime contributors Jason, Collett, Leslie Feist and Emily Haines make appearances along with special guests including Sea and Cake’s Sam Prekop, but the lion’s share draws from frontmen Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning with Sam Goldberg, Lisa Lobsinger, Justin Peroff, Charles Spearin, and Andrew Whiteman. The greater focus begets music that unabashedly hits harder. The songs may be more succinct, but the band still sounds like it contains multitudes.
Since the collective’s 3rd release in 2004, individual members of the collective have made names for themselves outside of the confines of BSS. Feist became a rock diva after releasing Let It Die in 2004, Whiteman hit the road with Apostle of Hustle, Drew and Collett released solo albums, and Amy Millan and Emily Haines elevated their side projects Stars and Metric to even greater notoriety. Forgiveness Rock Record is lush and romantic and as eclectic as the members who create it. Each track has a distinct sound, embracing their endless ability to craft clever, soaring pop songs. This is no doubt enhanced by Tortoise’s John McEntire who produced the album.
“World Sick” is one of the catchiest songs the band has ever written. Harmonics and power chords swell and boom as the band both embraces global and personal yearnings. Drew’s voice leads the collective as they cry “I get world sick / Every time I take a stand / I get world sick / My love is for my land.” “Chase Scene” strings together old west guitar rumblings and horn filled climaxes with certain tension, set upon cryptic lyrics that mirror the band’s musical complexity and the gripping chorus, “I think I’m ready to fight for the scene of my life”. “Texaco Bitches” devises a joyous melody as vocal ascensions ride marching beats and atmospheric tings. “All to All” climaxes with a wave of female vocals led by Lisa Lobsinger married with a pulsating staccato base. Her angelic voice soars above electronic atmospheres like a phoenix as she has fun with words “It’s like the all to all, the all to all the ultimatum”. “Highway Slipper Jam” brings to mind one of my favorite bands, The Slip, and recalls older BSS. It’s slow and easy as high harmonies roll along and an array of subtle sounds merge together to create the end’s lullaby. “Ungrateful Little Father” shows unabated love for alliteration. The pulsing beat of “Sentimental X’s” is filled with Haines’ sweet vocal meanderings and marks the first time in the group’s history that Amy Millan, Emily Haines, and Leslie Feist have collaborated on the same tune. “Sweetest Kill” is dark and seductive, with echoes of Drew’s voice giving up deflated melancholy upon gorgeous guitar lines which closely follow his vocal tones. The album closes with an ode to masturbation aptly titled “Me and My Hand.”
Forgiveness Rock Record rounds up the BSS diaspora and serves as a robust reminder of the band’s commitment to their identity as an art collective. One of the many things that strikes me about BSS is how their free-form, chaotic approach to creating music transforms into beautiful song structures which unmask a deep understanding of when to embrace and when to subvert standards of pop songwriting. Forgiveness Rock Record follows in this vein, often to spectacular and inspiring effect. It is easy to fall for Broken Social Scene. They make accessible and challenging pop-art, they are unequivocally prolific as a collective, they spring from Canada, and over the years have become one of the most iconic and forever-evolving indie super-groups around.
On August 9, 2010 Broken Social Scene unveiled plans for their “All to All” remix series, which includes 5 different versions of the Forgiveness Rock Record track. Every Monday, a new remix was made available exclusively for 24 hours via a different online collaborator. And on Monday, the band released the provocative video for “Texaco Bitches” featuring a bizarrely sexual, oil fed wrestling match. The video’s eccentric take on today’s oil companies is coupled with a hilarious, unforeseen ending.
Don’t miss the opportunity to contemplate this collective in motion on their winter tour.
Broken Social Scene Winter 2011 Tour
1/16/11 London, ON @ The Music Hall
1/18/11 New York, NY @ Terminal 5
1/29/11 Edmonton, AB @ Freezing Man Festival
2/10/11 Atlanta, GA @ Buckhead Theatre
2/11/11 Tampa, FL @ Ritz
2/12/11 Ft. Lauderdale @ Revolution Hall
2/13/11 Orlando, FL @ Firestone Live
2/15/11 New Orleans, LA @ Tipitina’s
2/17/11 Houston, TX @ Warehouse Live
2/18/11 Austin, TX @ La Zona Rosa
2/19/11 Dallas, TX @ House of Blues
2/20/11 Tulsa, OK @ Cain’s Ballroom
Freelance Whales released their sweet and honest debut album in September of 2009, but audiences are still getting acquainted with this tenderhearted quintet from Brooklyn.
Frontman Judah Dadone (lead vocals, banjo, acoustic and electric guitar, synthesizer, bass) drew on inspiration for the band’s name from a near drowning incident in the Sea of Galilee when growing up in Jerusalem. He was seeking to grasp a rock to prove that he reached the bottom, but found it difficult to regain the surface. The Israeli fisherman who pulled him out called him in Hebrew a “freedom whale”, which then metamorphosed into the increasingly familiar name. The reference to the musical mammal and the gesture to a do-it-yourself attitude ties Dadone together with bandmates Doris Cellar (bass, harmonium, glockenspiel, synthesizer, vocals) (lead vocals, banjo, acoustic and electric guitar, synthesizer, bass), Chuck Criss (banjo, bass, synthesizer, glockenspiel, harmonium, acoustic and electric guitar, vocals), Jacob Hymn (drums, percussion, vocals), and Kevin Read (acoustic and electric guitar, glockenspiel, mandolin, synthesizer, vocals).
The members of Freelance Whales found each other through friends of friends and through Craigslist in 2008 as a result of Judah Dadone’s posts aimed at musicians who might fill his imagined sounds on unusual instruments. The band further bonded at a remote, eerie, abandoned farm colony on Staten Island where a friend suggested they videotape a performance. This late 2008 evening marked the first time the 5 brought their acoustic instruments together and performances throughout the mazes of NYC subway system evolved from the experience.
The collective honed their sound almost exclusively on the stages and subway platforms of New York City. At 2009’s end, the band journeyed on their first tour supporting the highly-orchestrated, swelling indie pop of London’s Fanfarlo. Several crowded performances at SXSW brought the band’s buzz to new heights after Spin named them one of 50 “Must Hear Bands at SXSW” and NPR simultaneously referred to them as “a band to watch this year” after a live appearance on All Songs Considered. 2010 saw an April re-release of Weathervanes on both Frenchkiss and Mom + Pop, the later which houses hot indie sensations Sleigh Bells, Metric, Tokyo Police Club, and Ingrid Michaelson. “Generator ^ First Floor” and “Broken Horse” were heard on NBC’s Chuck and the CW’s One Tree Hill. Soon audiences found Freelance Whales on tour with Bear in Heaven, Cymbals Eat Guitars, Shout Out Louds, and Tokyo Police Club.
Weathervanes is beautifully poetic and full of pastel imagery that somehow make stories of ghosts and nightmares enchanting. “Generator ^ First Floor” begins the bundle of storied tales which wrap the listener tightly for the album’s 46 minute duration. Dadone softly sings, “We’re finding every day several ways that we could be friends, And in our native language we are chanting ancient songs, And when we quiet down the house chants on without us.” This youthful optimism reveals the core of Weathervanes. “Hannah’s” chorus tempts the artful dreamer by calling “if you’re attracted to the night sky, if you’re vaguely attracted to rooftops”. “Location” follows Dadone searching for his ghostly sweetheart with mood filled lyrics contrasted with honeyed harmonies and hopeful banjo strums within the interludes. “Starring” is reminiscent of Ben Gibbard’s Postal Service with its infusion of electronics and synths mixed with Dadone’s soft vocals creating an electro pop gem with rolling choruses and a banjo solo to briefly interrupt the electric flow.
The poetic story within “Broken Horse” follows the animal’s wintertime journey away from confinement with haunting, intertwining, and overlapping vocals. “Danse Flat” is strangely sparse and slightly spooky as it lures the listener into the depths of a deserted house with the sweet tune of a music box turning. “We Could Be Friends”‘s powerful ascending guitar lines, keyboard meanderings, and rock beats lift the song’s luscious lyrics, “I am convinced that we should be friends, We compare our hearts to things that fly, But cannot land.”
Throughout Weathervanes, Freelance Whales make the most of each moment where vocals are absent to imbue the sound with numerous effects, xylophone tinklings, and atmospheric murmurings. The songs rest among similar tones, which create a sweet whole while deeper listens allow the distinctions to settle in. Most of these differences lie within lyrics crafted from Dadone’s childhood memories and dream journals.
Freelance Whales is currently on their 3rd U.S. tour following summer performances at Sasquatch! and Lollapalooza. Try not to miss them before they rise to another level and the intimacy now to be gained is gone.
Remaining Fall Tour dates…
Mon, Nov 27th – Hi-Dive / Denver, CO
Wed, Dec 1st – 7th Street Entry / Minneapolis, MN
Thu, Dec 2nd – Lincoln Hall / Chicago, IL
Fri, Dec 3rd – The Basement / Columbus, OH
Sat, Dec 4th – Brillobox / Pittsburgh, PA
Sun, Dec 5th – Mohawk Place / Buffalo, NY
Tue, Dec 7th – El Mocambo Club / Toronto, ONT
Wed, Dec 8th – La Sala Rossa / Montreal, QC
Thu, Dec 9th – Middle East / Boston, MA
Fri, Dec 10th – Iron Horse / Northampton, MA
Sat, Dec 11th – Lily’s Pad / New Haven, CT
Tue, Dec 14th – Johnny Brenda’s / Philadelphia, PA
Wed, Dec 15th – Webster Hall / New York, NY
Brooklyn-based indie-rockers Bear Hands have been working the scene since they emerged in 2006 and broke out as a New York buzz band in 2007, after the release of their debut EP. Four year straight at CMJ and three years at SXSW plus opening slots for a number of influential indie artists have provided them fresh fans along the way, but the release of their first LP, Burning Bush Supper Club (Cantora Records, 2010) is the long-awaited piece solidifying the band’s locale on the indie map. Bloggers went crazy for the album’s two singles, “Crime Pays” and “What A Drag”. The full record was released into the atmosphere on November 2nd.
Like fellow labelmates MGMT, Bear Hand formed as a result of their Wesleyan University connection. All four members graduating from the Connecticut school. TJ Orscher (drums/vocals) and Val Loper (bass/percussion) used to be members of an emo hardcore band called In Pieces. In August of 2006, Rau (vocals/guitar/keyboard), arguably one of their biggest fans, asked the two to flesh out some of his musical ideas and record a demo with him. The three rapidly realized that there was potential for a band and Bear Hands was born. Ted Feldman (guitar/percussion) joined soon after to fill out the sound. The four members of Bear Hands grew up listening to punk music and together meld those young influences into their driving, melodic, and vocal rock heavy explorations.
The band’s quirky, hook-filled new record is filled with distorted, reverb heavy guitar lines, pulsing beats, and Rou’s soulful falsetto. His gritty, strangely melodic vocals bring up comparisons to Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock and MGMT’s Andrew VanWyngarden. Abstract lyrics also form the basis of BBSS and lend to its artfulness. “Tablasaurus”’s cryptic lines meld with layers of sound atop a hypnotic tabla sample. The album ebbs and flows between atmospheric tracks like the deeply textured “Wicksey Boxing” and the slow-building “Julien” and rock-heavy screamers like “Blood and Treasure”. “What A Drag”, the album’s standout pop track, contains solid images that tease and pull you until the song’s infectious chorus about her “goddamn long nails” forcefully hits.
The band’s sound has evolved since the release of the Golden EP in 2007. The band’s early instrumentation was founded upon two guitars, bass and drums. Since then, the songs have become more danceable and rhythmically oriented with additions of keyboards, samplers and programmed drums. This was partly due to the influence of Chuck Brody (Lykke Li, Santigold) who produced both albums.
Over the past three years, Bear Hands has opened for a long list of indie sensations including MGMT, Vampire Weekend, The XX, Les Savy Fav and has toured across North American and Europe with Passion Pit, Obits, We Were Promised Jet Packs, Hockey, Manic Street Preachers, and Mayer Hawthorne and The County. Dylan Rau was classmates at Wesleyan with MGMT’s Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser, who selected Bear Hands on numerous occasions to be one of their opening acts. Bear Hand’s shows are known to be deeply powerfully and sonically textured.
Stop by the Larimer Lounge to catch them live on Wednesday, November 24th. The band will be finishing up their fall tour at locales across the midwest and northeast through mid December.
11/24 – Larimer Lounge, Denver, CO
11/26 – Schubas, Chicago, IL
11/27 – MOTR Pub, Cincinnati, OH
11/28 – Lager House, Detroit, MI
11/29 – Sneaky Dee’s, Toronto, ON, Canada
11/30 – Casa del Popolo, Montreal, QC, Canada
12/1 – Great Scott, Allston, MA
12/2 – Pearl Street Clubroom, Northampton, MA
12/3 – The Met Cafe, Pawtucket, RI
12/16 – Lilly’s Pad at Toad’s Place, New Haven, CT
12/17 – Bowery Ballroom, New York, NY
“What A Drag”
I’m smearing a look, in a bottomless pit.
I am sending my love, but they won’t let it in.
You are dragging me down, I am punching a tree.
When I fall back now, deeper and deeper.
You’ve got them long nails, I’m dreaming of your god damn long nails.
You’ve got them long nails, I’m dreaming of your god damn long nails.
You have your finger so deep.
Listening is really just a valueless deed.
When you live underground, it’s the way that you sleep.
It’s the light in your hair, it’s the weight of the breeze
and when I fall back now, deeper and deeper.
deeper and deeper, deeper and deeper.
deeper and deeper, deeper and deeper.
You’ve got them long nails, I’m dreaming of your god damn long nails.
You’ve got them long nails, I’m dreaming of your god damn long nails.
You have your finger so deep.
Gorillaz have spent the past year dishing out jaw-dropping live performances across the U.S. and Europe, but during his spare time, Damon Albarn reveals that he’s been working on the group’s next record.
In an interview with NME, Albarn discloses that he hopes to release the new record before Christmas. “It’s a studio album made in hotel rooms across America,” says Albarn. “I guess it’s my love letter to America,” he told the UK Guardian. “I used to be baffled by this place, and I guess I still am in some ways; America confused me enormously. But right now, with all that’s going on, this is a good place to be and this has been a great tour.” To NME, he describes the “American-sounding” album: “It sounds like an English voice that has been put through a vocoder of America.”
Albarn recorded the upcoming release in a remarkably unconventional way. “I’ve made it on an iPad — I hope I’ll be making the first record on an iPad,” he tells NME. “I fell in love with my iPad as soon as I got it, so I’ve made a completely different kind of record.”
On top of that, Albarn just formed a new supergroup featuring Flea on bass and Fela Kuti drummer Tony Allen. Albarn has stated that he’s three-quarters finished with the unnamed group’s debut.
Here’s a remix of “Superfast Jellyfish” by Don Diablo. The original is on Gorillaz’s 2010 release, Plastic Beach.
Ego vs Id will release their stunning debut this month, a tour de force that will no doubt put them on the map. It is hard not to fall for the band’s passion and fury filled version of guitar driven rock. With bold songs about love and pain, Ego vs Id strikes the heart with a sustaining blow. The band is equally as talented as other acclaimed rock bands gaining notoriety this year including These United States, Ha Ha Tonka, and Free Energy. The door is swinging wide open.
The band formed in the foothills town of Boulder, Colorado in 2007. Robbie Stiefel (guitar, bass, vocals) and Jesse Parmet (bass, guitar, vocals) began playing together as kids while growing up in the same suburb on the outskirts of Washington DC. The two were always waiting to find just the right crew to form a band. Jesse moved to Boulder after finishing his degree at the Berklee School of Music in Boston to reunite the duo and the golden dream was finally realized. Robbie met Nate Cook (guitar, vocals) one night at 7-Eleven during Cook’s stint on the graveyard shift. The next day the two played for a few hours trading songs. The band’s first show was at Trilogy in Boulder just two weeks later. Nick Cobbet (drums), the final missing piece of this evolving puzzle, joined the band this summer. Brian Dillon is credited with drumming on the album.
The process of writing and recording Taste was quite cathartic for the band. The four combined their energy and emotion in an attempt to create a piece of work that gets better with each listen, inspires one to take it in in its entirety, that takes the listener on a journey. They succeeded with full marks. The band began recording the album at the Sky Trail Productions studio on a large format SSL analogue board in January 2009 and it finally now reaches our ears. Of the album’s engineer and co-producer, Chris Wright, Stiefel notes, “He likes things thick but also enjoys open space. The recording console in conjunction with Chris’s recording techniques account for almost 95% of why the record sounds the way it does.”
The moving tracks that fill Taste simply sound good. Sunny “All American Love” is filled with shiny guitar riffs and sugary pop choruses. Witty lines like “we’ll inhale work and exhale rent” pervade and promptly draw attention to the band’s adeptness with words. “Lenny Bruce” is a stand out track offering stark images, gorgeous guitar intricacies, and reveals the band’s electric synergy as they roll and explode into the song’s closing notes. The depth of Stiefel’s vocals plead you to listen and it’s hard to resist that smooth tenderness and dexterity.
Taste‘s exquisite production, musical texture, and lyrical finesse continue to draw one in track after track. “Tennessee Honey” is filled with mysterious musings of a bad boy and the guitar riffs speak the same. “Landmine” and “Diamond” blast forward in true stadium rock form with wailing guitars awash with sex appeal. Cook and Stiefel howl like many rock gods before them have done. On “Jenny” EVI draw on the bounce of 50’s rock and at moments I feel as though I’m within a Rilo Kiley tune. The slow crooner “Game I’m In” is soft, sultry, and endlessly gorgeous. The chorus stays with you long after the track ends. “Cause maybe we can’t win, maybe we can’t win, oh that’s a hard way to live. ”
EVI’s debut will be released on their newly founded label, Abattoir Records, on November 16th. Says Stiefel, “We have a lot of things that we would like to do differently from others in the industry, things that most other folks in the industry seem to be getting wrong. I think the fans will notice this and appreciate it. We start by asking ourselves what we think the listener will want, what the music fan will want, and we build things from there. We’re going to be breaking some rules here and I think that it’s going to set a new standard for what a band along with their label can do.” Taste will be available digitally via iTunes and Amazon and at several independent records stores including Albums on the Hill (Boulder) and Twist and Shout (Denver). Ego vs Id’s CD Release event will be held at The Speakeasy in Boulder on Friday, November 19th. Tickets are available online through the band’s site.
Ego vs Id are kings of choruses, walls of sound, and polished production. They make rock new and relevant. Get ready to watch their career progress. Ego vs Id are fully teeming with potential.
If you are a Weezer fan, the fact that the band will make 2-day stops in 5 major U.S. cities to lay down both of their first two albums is alone an thrilling notion. The So-Cal rock outfit will perform its self-titled debut, also referred to as “The Blue Album,” on the first night of each tour stop, and its sophomore release, the cult favorite Pinkerton, on the second night. The band will also play other material from its catalog after performing each album in its entirety.
Add in tour support by both Best Coast and Free Energy and the elation expands. Best Coast is affable live but Free Energy’s shows are an explosive rock punch. The Philly band has made a name for themselves in 2010 playing SXSW and touring nationwide with artists including Titus Andronicus, Delta Spirit, and Ra Ra Riot. The band is tight, wide-eyed, and brimming with enthusiasm. They diligently offer power-pop and sunny, guitar driven anthems that are pure, non-stop fun. Free Energy’s debut album, Stuck On Nothing (March 2010), was produced by none other than LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy. And on top of it all, Rolling Stone named them in March one of the best new bands of 2010.
On October 22, frontman Rivers Cuomo announced on the Weezer forum that Best Coast would open the L.A. shows, and that Free Energy would support Weezer in Boston and New York. “I love these bands!” wrote Cuomo. Best Coast leader Bethany Cosentino and Cuomo also recently collaborated on a track that is yet to be released.
Weezer Tour Dates:
11-26 Los Angeles, CA – Gibson Amphitheatre *
11-27 Los Angeles, CA – Gibson Amphitheatre *
11-29 San Francisco, CA – Nob Hill Masonic Center
11-30 San Francisco, CA – Nob Hill Masonic Center
12-14 Boston, MA – Orpheum Theatre ^
12-15 Boston, MA – Orpheum Theatre ^
12-17 New York, NY – Roseland Ballroom ^
12-18 New York, NY – Roseland Ballroom ^
01-07 Chicago, IL – Aragon Ballroom
01-08 Chicago, IL – Aragon Ballroom
Leave any attachment to cartoon characters behind. Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett’s animated oddballs served as an interesting concept at the onset and propelled the intrigue of their project into the mainstream, but on the third Gorillaz release, Plastic Beach (2010), it seems they’ve left behind the idea that Gorillaz is purely a vehicle for a cartoon fronted federation. The former Blur frontman has transcended the futuristic wiliness of the original image, creating one of the best records of 2010, one that is innovative, powerful, eclectic, and soulfully diverse. Truth be told. Gorillaz are real.
Damon Albarn and British cartoonist Jamie Hewlett started the fictional cartoon band in 1998. The band was instantly successful with their self-titled debut album (2001) which included songs “19-2000″ and “Clint Eastwood”. The concept band was composed of four animated members: 2D (lead vocalist, keyboard), Murdoc Niccals (bass guitar), Noodle (guitar, keyboard, and occasional vocals) and Russel Hobbs (drums and percussion). The character’s fictional universe is explored throughout the band’s website and music videos. The due released Demon Days (2005) with smash hit “Feel Good Inc.” and “Dirty Harry” and five years later, Plastic Beach.
Filled with guest cameos from the likes of Snoop Dogg, Lou Reed, De La Soul, and the enigmatic Little Dragon, Plastic Beach rides on the formidable musicality and flawless production Gorillaz lovers have come to rely on. The album’s scope and depth as it meshes hip-hop, electronica, and pop is more engaging as a whole. It’s a concept album with a clear message about the Earth’s deflowering by pollution and snowballing technology. The record marks the first time Albarn has produced a Gorillaz album in its entirety after yielding the boards to Automator and Danger Mouse on previous efforts.
Plastic Beach opens with a dramatic, orchestral intro yet quickly runs into the sexy “Welcome To The World Of The Plastic Beach” featuring none other than the saucy, one and only, Snoop Dogg, dogmatizing that the “revolution will be televised… push peace and keep it in motion”. Look through the doom to behold the beauty beyond is the manifesto held in Albarn’s world.
“White Flag” reveals more of Albarn’s imaginings via hard hitting, hip-hop wrapped in samples and the lyrical prowess of Brit MC’s Bashy and Kano juxtaposed with sugar sweet melodies unraveling from The National Orchestra for Arabic Music. “No war, no guns, No corps, just life, Just love, no hate, Just fun, no ties, Just me and my mind, Just me and my wife.” No walls and jails on this paradise that rains condoms.
Albarn’s voice leads “Rhinestone Eyes” as he voices climatic concerns with syncopated fluidity atop electricity filled synth lines. And there’s “Stylo” with soulful vocals from Albarn and Bobby Womack plus raps from Mos Def expertly meshed with swirling electronics and unrelenting beats pushing you further into another dimension. Electric is the love.
“Superfast Jellyfish” is light and silly. Super Furry Animals’ Gruff Rhys & De La Soul collaborate on this microwave-meal-fast-food biting spoof adding another dimension to the album’s already apparent multiplicity. And then the dreamy “Empire Ants” begins, easily taking the title of most compelling and gorgeous track on the record. The slow, subtle intro by Albarn leads to a fully electrifying song body rich with the alluring vocals of Little Dragon’s Yukimi Nagano. The beats are to die for. “Empire Ants” the perfect soundtrack for a spontaneous dance party on the street with your car speakers blaring.
“Some King of Nature” stands out with deftly spoken lyrics from luminary Lou Reed who adds something entirely bizarre and psychedelic to Albarn’s cough syrup dripping choruses. “Melancholy Hill” causes the energy to drop off, but “Broken” picks it back up again with eerie melodies leading into nighttime driven musings about distant galaxies. The slow pace is irresistible. The album winds and turns through the rest of it’s 18 track sand then swiftly drifts into two movie score ready tracks, “Pirate’s Progress” and “Three Hearts, Seven Seas, Twelve Moons”.
Plastic Beach captures your imagination and triggers a full-color, 3D listening experience. The album is stunning in its entirety and is one of Albarn’s most fully developed musical conceptions yet. The pretense of the animated band has clearly been surpassed. And there might be more to come. Albarn recorded more than 70 songs for this release, and the designing pair is apparently considering sequels.
Gorillaz debuted Plastic Beach at Coachella 2010 and arguably played one of the most dynamic sets of the festival. Live, the band includes Mick Jones and Paul Simonon of The Clash along with Cass Browne (The Senseless Things) and a number of talented musicians and guests, which at Coachella included Mos Def, Bobby Womack, De La Soul, Little Dragon, and the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. The 35-date international tour in support of the album began this October with 5 U.S. dates still remain including Denver, Phoenix, L.A., Oakland, and Seattle. Catch them if you can. It just might be one of the most epic shows you see all year.
Oct 24 – Wells Fargo Theatre, Denver, CO
Oct 26 – Dodge Theatre, Phoenix, AZ
Oct 27 – Gibson Amphitheatre, Los Angeles, CA
Oct 30 – Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA
Nov 2 – Key Arena, Seattle, WA
Rather in love with this track. Ironic in that at the core it feels quite heavy-hearted. As another writer aptly put it, “If you’ve ever stared broken-hearted from a train window as frowning forests fly by then you already know what it sounds like.” (Pinglewood)
Phoenix’s buoyant, soaring track turns into something rather bittersweet. The resounding melancholy mood is soft and subtle. The elegant remix lingers in the bridge, poignantly resting on few lyrics to bring out the essence of the song. And that is what Banhart has accomplished. He struck the emotional spirit of the song making this rendering arguably better that the first.