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    Gorillaz

    Gorillaz( 2001, UK pos 3 )
    Re-Hash / 5/4 / Tomorrow Comes Today / New Genious (Brother) / Clint Eastwood / Man Research (Clapper) / Punk / Sound Check / Double Bass / Rock The House / 19-2000 / Latin Simone (Que Pasa Contigo) / Starshine / Slow Country / M1 A1 / Dracula / Left Hand Suzuki Method

    It's known around the music circles that Noel and Liam of Oasis aren't too impressed by Gorillaz. The rivalry that marked the mid-nineties Britpop wars between Blur and Oasis, revived through Damon, 'hiding' behind a cartoon band, vs Liam & Noel? He's not hiding. It's fairly well known that the main creative lynchpin behind Gorillaz is Damon Albarn. The idea of creating a cartoon band isn't a new one, it was used when The Monkees refused to record 'Sugar Sugar'. A cartoon band was created instead, 'The Archies'. Meant that dealing with the troublesome likes of Michael Nesmith or those other Monkee guys wasn't neccessary. Gorillaz isn't really in the same vein at all as The Archies. I want to make that point clear. It also doesn't really resemble Damon's previous music with Blur, either. My theory is there are a couple of reasons Noel and Liam are jealous. Oasis have never managed to musically progress, venture into other genres, etc etc. Damon has done it, seemingly effortlessly, with Gorillaz. Surrounding himself with a bunch of talented collaborators and then hiding behind cartoon figures, has worked. Damon is the only one the general public at large are usually likely to recognize, looking past the fantastic videos and plastic figurines that Gorillaz 'merchandising' has become. The second reason? Gorillaz have become hugely popular. That will craw at Oasis, as well. This debut Gorillaz set was a slow-burner, but thanks to a succession of cool sounding singles, stuck around on the UK album charts for months and months and months, peaking at number three. Peaking at number three, but outselling Blur albums, due to the albums sheer chart longevity.

    'Clint Eastwood'. The groove, the melody. It's kind of circus like, resembling Damons quirky instrumentals for Blur. Del the Funky Homosapien (?) does the rap part, as I understand it. A cool production, very modern sounding, as likely to appeal to Hip Hop fans an indie-kids. True crossover, another of the reasons the album sold so well. Another simple, silly Damon melody forms the basis of 19-2000. The album opens well, funk, indie rock, spacey chill-out. 'Punk' sounds like a Blur song, a minute and a half of distorted guitar and repetitive vocals. The electronica continues, a few songs seem half formed. The album loses its way. But, overall, holds its head above water. The hit singles make the album, a few other tracks support them. Really, it's only half a good album. It's very modern, in that respect. People have short attention spans. This first Gorillaz album is so achingly modern, that repeated listenings don't provide repeated rewards. At least, they don't for very long.

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    Elliot Douch UK
    A solid debut with the first half in particular being strong. Re-Hash and 5/4 show rock influences while Rock the Houses showcases rap. Man Research is incredible and the album's highlight. 8/10

    Demon Days( 2005, UK pos 1 )
    Intro / Last Living Souls / Kids With Guns / O Green World / Dirty Harry / Feel Good Inc / El Manana / Every Plant We Reach Is Dead / November Has Come / All Alone / White Light / Dare / Fire Coming Out Of A Monkeys Head / Don't Get Lost In Heaven / Demon Days

    How does a cartoon band progress, exactly? Well, draw a bit more grizzle and pain onto the front sleeves cartoon faces of the band members. Make an album that sounds altogether darker in places than the majority of the debut. Remain rooted in hip-hop, but also work in a myriad of other influences. Reach number one in the album charts, if you're Damon Albarn, and still have taxi-drivers come upto you and say, "hey Damon, you've not done much music lately, have you?". Gorillaz are huge, yet still a good majority of the record buying public have no idea who is behind the band, let alone the fact that Damon Albarn from Blur is behind the band. All of these things can be qualified as successes. First single 'Feel Good Inc' is so insidious that it's no surprise it stuck around in the charts here in the UK for months and months, very rare for a single these days. Gorillaz took advantage of the new rule allowing legally downloaded singles to count towards the charts proper. As such, 'Feel Good Inc' spent a good three or four weeks in the top 40 before it was even released on vinyl or CD. Good going, I say. As for the sleek piece of modernity the song 'Feel Good Inc' is, Gorillaz still saw fit to include an inspired section about windmills that occupied a quieter section in the song, driven by acoustic guitar. You've just got to love it. 'Dare' has been released as the 2nd single and much like the first, initially fails to grab you by the balls but after repeated listening, burrows its way into your soul. So, two singles in and 'Demon Days' has already corrected one of the flaws of the debut album set? Well, it would appear so.

    It's a strange thing, but for an album lasting a not too long at all fifty minutes, 'Demon Days' seems to last several days rather than just shy of an hour. Ah, a critiscm! They've worked hard though to vary the sound of the songs that make up the album, 'Don't Get Lost In Heaven' almost coming across as a lost Lennon mantra beamed down to earth and worked into a song, of sorts, courtesy of Damon. 'El Manana' resembles post-coxon Blur with added dance production. Well, naturally enough, I suppose. But, going back to what I mentioned right at the start of this review, a darker mood permeates stuff like this than Gorillaz of before. Back to the album sounding as if it lasts longer than a mere fifty minutes then? Well, it seems packed to bursting with ideas, often good ideas that too frequently don't reach full fruition because of the clumsy nature of the arrangements. Too many times the songs comes across as overproduced, a shared complaint I had with the debut. The band just trying far too hard. No natural ( monkey? ) magic then, but the best of this album is certainly special enough to almost justify the hype.

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    Readers Comments

    David Owens davidowens78@yahoo.com
    I have to say that this album was a big disappointment to me. Only a few tracks on it do something for me. Having read the glowing reviews of it in the music press, I went ahead and bought it, and came away disappointed. This is overrated fare.

    Mr.T tomriol521@hotmail.com
    So yes, i agree as far as this album being better than the first one. Damon Albarn is in the position where he can do whatever the hell he likes and get away with it. The singles to this album are brilliant however, and some of the other tunes are good (I particularly like White Light) I agree with your critique though that the album seems oddly very long. I don't really know WHY it is, but when i first listened to it I kinda began to think 'when will this end' nevertheless it's still a great album that both casual music listeners and those who are well versed in their music can listen to. 8/10

    Plastic Beach( 2010 )
    Orchestral Intro / Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach / White Flag / Rhinestone Eyes / Stylo / Superfast Jellyfish / Empire Ants / Glitter Freeze / Some Kind of Nature / On Melancholy Hill / Broken / Sweepstakes / Plastic Beach / To Binge / Cloud of Unknowing / Pirate Jet

    A guest filled 3rd album here from Damon Albarn and co, although it seems the album had a slightly strange upbriging. Damon recorded a bunch of demos for a project to be titled 'Carousel', none of these were designed for any Gorillaz project. EMI stepped in and often radical makeovers of same demos resulted in something apparently a little more Gorillaz than the Carousel demos. Funnily enough, I found the unadulterated Demo's to often be more attractive than this polished finish product, a product which almost, but not quite, sounds like a regular Gorillaz album. 'Welcome To The World Of THe Plastic Beach' and 'White Flag' both feature rap artists, Snoop Dogg and Kano respectively and both are fine, particularly 'White Flag', but since when were Gorillaz almost exclusively a rap act, as these two songs would suggest? Anyway, Damon pops up to sing 'Rhinestone Eyes' and suddenly Gorillaz do actually return, although four tracks into a new album you'd be forgiven for asking where the hits are coming from, something previous Gorillaz albums had no trouble providing.

    PAGE THREE STUNNER THINKS WAR IS BAD. In other news, troubled record company EMI allow 'Stylo', the long awaited new Gorillaz single, to trickle out almost unannouced as a digital only release. The result of a lack of a charting single for easily the most commercial track from the new Gorillaz album is said to leave Damon Albarn 'upset', a spokesman for Mr Albarn recently told our newspaper. For the record, leaving such silliness behind, 'Stylo' is an incredible slow-burner of a track yet leaves you amazed in the long run. It's addictive, features a couple of vocalists and a special word to Bobby Womack who produces the best guest vocal of the entire 'Plastic Beach' album. Yes, even better than the much talked about but best ignored guest turn by 'Mark E Smith' of 'The Fall' on 'Glitter Freeze'.

    'Superfast Jellyfish' is my pick of the bunch here and possibly a future single. De La Soul and Gruff Rhys put in excellent turns, especially De La Soul and the entire thing is just fun, fun, fun. I don't know who 'Little Dragon' is, but she does a wonderfully special and ghostly and pretty turn on 'Empire Ants', a mellow slice of trip-hop/indie from the Gorillaz stable, something they've not really done before. Suddenly the album seems to be picking up steam and an impartial observer could be forgiven for thinking Gorillaz have pulled 'it' off again.... The non-event of 'Glitter Freeze' is followed by the dirge of the Lou Reed fronted 'Some Kind Of Nature'. Some reports have suggested Lou Reed sounds more alive here than in decades. I think these people have forgotten Lou has actually had a solo career, an intermittently memorable one, and that hooking up the with 'cool' Gorillaz is unlikely to have much of an impact on his career and that certainly it doesn't represent a wonderfully impassioned Lou Reed reclaiming his artistic place. In fact, it's all rather dull.

    In summary, 'Broken' is excellent, 'Stylo' and 'Superfast Jellyfish' are excellent and that's about it for actual highlights. The rest of this project passes by nicely enough, nothing actively annoys yet one can't help but feel let-down. The talent remains in Mr Albarn but conceptually (and don't even start on the whole tacked on 'Plastic Beach' concept) the album is a flawed and rather fractured listen.

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    Readers Comments

    Daniel Kemp Cambridge
    Awwww man, I couldn't disagree with you more! I found Plastic Beach to be a thrilling listen from start to finish! I won't go into great detail with regards to my thoughts on Plastic Beach (that's what my website is for, after all) but for me it is their best album and Albarn at his best.

    xilpromotions tonyrose@xilpromotions
    I'm not familiar with Gorillaz stuff so I listened to this album with a fresh open mind, so I wasn't cluttered with Gorillaz past. It's certainly my kind of album, Snoop Dog features on track 2... Welcome to the World and De La Soul on track 6... Superfast Jellyfish which I like very much. To access additional content go to www.gorillaz.co.uk/pbstandard and follow the instructions. You have to register, I tried but it came up error 500.

    Brandon Toronto, ON
    I'll admit a predilection towards projects speerheaded by Damon Albarn, but I think even from an objective standpoint, this album works. The concept, while not uninteresting, is completely dispensable.Tunes are integral to this experience. "On Melancholy Hill" is the best pure pop single I've heard in quite a while and "Pirate Jet" is just as infectious, even if it lacks the gorgeous quality of the former. "Rhinestone Eyes" continues to mystify me in the most positive way.The album isn't defect free, of course, particularly the deluxe versions (of which there are several). I have no use for a track like "Pirate's Progress"...at all.

    this page last updated 11/04/11



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