Archive for October 2010
Sometimes there is a concert, no- a spectacle, which is so good it is just head and shoulders above anything else out there.
That show belonged to the Gorillaz on Sunday, as the collaborative hyper dub hip-hop group took center stage at Denver’s Wells Fargo Theatre as part of their new world tour.
This is the Gorillaz first proper tour where they have shelved the animated band – Murdoc, 2D, Noodles and Russel – in turn placing frontman Damon Albarn, of Blur, and his army of musicians up front and displaying Gorillaz co-creator Jamie Hewlett’s, creator of Tank Girl, animation on big screens above the stage.
The evening began promptly with N.E.R.D taking the stage to warm up the crowd.
Pharrell and company did a standout job of getting the crowd on their feet with a mix of the group’s dance-friendly beats.
The highlight of the set would have to be when they dove into some of the new material off their “Nothing” album that came out this week.
Hypnotize U, their latest single produced by Daft Punk was spectacular live, and the inspiring God Bless Us All, was a mellow interlude to some of their classics that really got the crowd jumping.
The stalwart Rock Star-Poser provided the group a little room to improvise and a scalding bass solo. The two drummers also played off each other well to create a cacophony of beats. In all, most nights N.E.R.D. would be a suitable main course, but this was not most nights.
By the time the lights dropped and the screens lit up revealing a HD animated Murdoc the anticipation was palpable.
Following the skit with Murdoc cursing 2D and his banjo and the “warm-up band” about to take the stage, which were in fact Albarn and company.
From the moment Albarn hit the stage to the backdrop of a giant neon Gorillaz sign, the crowd lost it.
An orchestra outfitted in sailor suits to coincide with the band’s recent release “Plastic Beach” gave way to Snoop Dogg’s video on the big screen for Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach.
Albarn immediately jumped onstage front and center as Snoop Dogg faded and dove into the “Demon Days” Last living Souls with video of zombies wandering the desert on the screens.
Not having his animated persona between him and the audience was no hindrance for Albarn who can play the part of a rock star to a T. From start to finish, in a red and black striped shirt, leather jacket and jeans, he bounced around the stage playing a variety of instruments and singing.
After a nice rendition of the classic 19-2000 with Rosie Wilson, Bobby Womack made his first appearance on their new single Stylo. With the song’s video featuring Bruce Willis as an assassin hunting down Murdoc with a giant six-shooter playing, Womack’s airy voice was spot on. Albarn stepped in with a distorted mic to fill in the bridge. It was amazing to see the song come together live.
Following a beautiful version of Rhinestone Eyes, it was De La Soul’s turn to get down with the funky Superfast Jellyfish. Hewlett’s animation flashed across the screens overloading the senses making it hard to watch the performance and art.
De La’s intensity on the quirky disjointed song was not to be outmatched. The group stuck to the new material with Empire Ants featuring Yukimi Nagano, a soulful song that led to the introduction of Bootie Brown on Dirty Harry.
Brown, sporting a blue wind breaker suit, brought fresh intensity to the stage unleashing his signature rhythm while Albarn bounced around the stage with him.
Bashy and Kano made their first appearance on White Flag following an extensive intro by the National Orchestra for Arabic Music that is touring with the group.
Two British rappers sounding off against and Arabic orchestra may appear odd, and it is, but the Gorillaz make it work. Albarn waved a giant white flag on stage before handing it off to an audience member who ran around the theatre with it.
For the mega-hit Dare Rosie Wilson came out, and the theater exploded with bass. Glitter Freeze brought the intensity to another level with the pulsating beat that increases and is only punctuated by the “glitter freeze” chorus. Albarn threw in the raucous Punk from their debut album, which was a nice treat.
Then, because the Gorillaz must just have their own jet to transport their traveling troupe, the Clash’s Mick Jones came out for Plastic Beach. The funky electro track saw Albarn jumping up on the speakers reaching out to the crowd, while Jones sat back and strummed away.
The evening wrapped up in grand fashion; with a one-two punch with the smash hits Feel Good Inc. featuring De La Soul followed by Clint Eastwood featuring Bashy and Kano.
Feel Good devolved into a frenetic mix of raps bouncing of each other and Maseo’s crazy signature laugh that required his entire body to unleash over and over.
On Clint Eastwood Bashy and Kano ran out into the crowd. In the third row, we found ourselves in the middle of the show. As the duo bounced the beat back and forth to Albarn on stage, a random guy in an orange pimp suit climbed on Kano, who appeared more than a bit concerned.
The two were good sports through snapping photos with fans as they spit out the lyrics to what is most likely the band’s most popular song.
The night came to a close with Womack signing Don’t get lost in heaven as Albarn played the piano.
I had held off on seeing the Gorillaz until I could actually see the band members, rather than animation, and it was well worth it. Albarn and his crew of talented musicians are creating some of the most progressive music out there.
Notable tracks I would have liked to have heard include the new single Doncamatic, Bill Murray, Kids with Guns and White Light.
The animation and films on the screen was compelling, and abundant. Hewlett created enough original art to fill the entire two plus hour show.
Hands down it was the best show of the year.
1. Welcome to the world of the plastic beach
2 Last living souls
3 19-2000 (with Rosie Wilson)
4 Stylo (with Bobby Womack)
5 On melancholy hill
6 Rhinestone eyes
7 Superfast jellyfish (with de la soul)
8 Tomorrow comes today
9 Empire ants (with Yukimi Nagano)
11 Dirty harry (with Bootie Brown)
12 el manana
13 White flag (with Bashy and Kano)
14 To binge (with yukimi nagano)
15 Dare (with Rosie Wilson)
16 Glitter freeze
18 Plastic beach
19 Cloud of unknowing (with Womack)
20 Feel good inc ( with de la soul)
21 Clint Eastwood (remix with bashy and kano)
22 Don’t get lost in heaven (with Womack)
*Playlist courtesy of Eric Young
Idlewild “Post Electric Blues”
Perhaps a bit more laid back, “Post Electric Blues” is a simple ride through the rhythm of rock for this this Scottish rock band.
From squealing electric guitars, piano solos and acoustic guitar these tracks span a range of moods that show some growth for the band that has been together since 1995.
While airing more on the side of pop than previous albums, the group shows a softer side that may turn off some die hard fans but attract new ones.
Key Tracks: Readers & Writers, City Hall and Post Electric
Badly Drawn Boy “It’s What I’m Thinking: Photographing Snowflakes”
A mellow modern album, these songs paint a sureal landscape that envokes a range of emotions.
In typical BDB fashion, this latest collection of songs draws off of a range of instruments and sound effects. comparible to a Beatles sound or some of Beck’s more mellow tracks.
Eerie, airy and melodic, this is just another step in the journey that is BDB. Best not to try to unwrap it so much as just sit back and let it flow over the ears.
Key Tracks: In Safe Hands, I Saw You Walk Away and The Order of Things
Sufjan Stevens “The Age of Adz”
Stevens brings his funky laid back sound back to the masses here with his first full-length album in five years.
With his melodic acoustic guitar laid over his signature voice, combined with more dramatic tracks that include electric beats that sound almost Wizard of Oz-like the 11-track album is one of his more diverse.
There is enough here to keep Stevens fans preoccupied for another five years. Well, at least until his next EP.
Key Tracks: Futile Devices, Age of Adz, Vesuvius
Die Antwoord “$0$”
The biggest house hip-hop band to come out of South Africa, uhhh… ever drop their debut here with some crazy beats and even crazier rhymes.
Die Antwoord, already an internet sensation, seems almost a little too far fetched. It feels like a Borat skit where someone is going to pop up and yell gotcha. Except for one thing: these guys are for real and they are real good a what they do.
Unlike anything out there right now, Die trio- including vocalists Die Antwoord and Ninja- compliment each other well. Bouncing beats and fast lyrics off each other the result is a hyper intense rave beats with rapid fire rhymes.
Key Tracks: In Your Face, Enter The Ninja and Beat Boy
Belle and Sebastian “Write About Love”
Following a four-year hiatus, Belle and Sebastian are back with 11 light poppy songs here that are sure to appease fans.
Solid from start to finish the album is well composed. Solid drum beats back light airy piano and guitar along with an array of complimentary vocals that include guests like Norah Jones.
No big surprises here, but a fun listen that requires nothing from the listener except perhaps a blank mind and an open road.
Key Tracks: Come On Sister, I Want The World To Stop and Write About Love
I’ve heard of haters, but James Burns decided to take it to a whole new level with his distaste for Weezer.
Tuesday, Burns posted a pledged on thepoint.com to raise $10 million to give to Weezer if they will break up. The site asks everyone who bought “Pinkerton” to donate $12 to meet the goal in hopes that Weezer will just go away.
No, this is not a joke.
Burns, who admits he has never been a fan of the band, writes:
“Every year, Rivers Cuomo swears that he’s changed, and that their new album is the best thing that he’s done since “Pinkerton,” and what happens? Another pile of crap like “Beverly Hills” or “I’m Your Daddy. This is an abusive relationship, and it needs to stop now.”
Weezer seems to be taking the offer in stride.
Drummer Patrick Wilson posted the following on his Twitter profile in response to Burns’ offer.
“if they can make it 20, we’ll do the “deluxe breakup”!
Cuomo posted on is Twitter page that no amount of money will break up the band.
“no petition and no amount of money will stop us from being together!”
And while Weezer may have a sense of humor about the whole thing, apparently their hardcore fans don’t.
In a New York Times article today Burns said the backlash for what he deemed as a “silly” campaign has been strong.
In the article Burns is quoted saying:
“I wish more of Weezer’s fans would have the same sense of humor… I’ve actually received death threats over this, believe it or not. Some people have told me they wish I would get AIDS. This whole campaign, I fully admit that it’s silly.”
Apparently Burns still has a way to go before he meets his goal. Perhaps someone should have told him Weezer already has two more albums in the can.
Waka Flacka Flame “Flockaveli”
For the past few weeks I’ve been listening to Hard in Da Paint and No Hands with much anticipation for this debut album.
Waka Flacka Flame (say that five times fast) is pure rowdy hip-hop. The in-your-face Atlanta emcee pulls no punches here. It is clear he goes hard not just in the paint but for all 17 tracks on this album.
While advocating for Lil Wayne and Gucci’s freedom, Flame has some catchy beats here. From Lil Nemo to Columbine, Flame rhymes just about everything while repeating “Waka Flocka Flame” about 1,000 times here.
Key tracks: Hard In Da Paint, Bang and No Hands
Guster “Easy Wonderful”
The title pretty much says everything here. This music is simply easy to listen to with a wonderful melody.
Coming off of their more low-key “Ganging Up On The Sun,” Guster runs with the pop alternative sound here that they helped pioneer.
Nothing really groundbreaking on this record, but for Guster fans it’s the band doing what it does best.
Key Tracks: Architects & Engineers, Hercules and non-album bonus track Jonah.
Bruno Mars “Doo-Wops & Hooligans”
Bruno Mars’ new single Just the Way You Are has been playing everywhere.
Odds are if you like that track you will like his new album. This is a collection of shiny sing-along singles designed to make you hum along as you drive into a sunset.
Sappy, perhaps, but Mars has found his niche and nailed it on this album. The soulful reggae-style blues melds well with the poppy hooks.
Key Tracks: Grenade, Just The Way You Are and Liquor Store Blues
Jars of Clay “The Shelter”
This is simply an amazing album.
Jars of Clay are an talented group of musicians who progress immensely with every album. No two albums sound the same, and the true is here with Shelter. The band brought in a number of guests for this collection of 11 songs, which is a bit different.
Bottom line is this is a deftly composed album that is beautiful.
Key Tracks: Small Rebellions, We Will Follow and No Greater Love
Jason Mraz “Life is Good”
Life is good for Mr. A -Z.
Here Mraz shows just how good with a laid back collection of feel-good live tracks in his new EP.
Four of the five tracks here are previously unreleased, so this is worth checking out. But the live takes are solid recordings from his recent North American tour showcasing Mraz’s talent.
Key Tracks: Freedom Song, Up and Coyotes
It’s October and you know what that means.
That’s right it’s time to start sorting through this year’s releases to narrow it down to a list of the top ten.
It’s been a year of stellar music, which is why I am enlisting the help of my trusty readers. Below are a list of 15 albums that could be considered the best releases of 2010.
Your job simply vote for your favorite album, or leave a comment of those I have left off this list.
Lil Wayne “I Am Not A Human Being”
The National “High Violet”
Mumford & Sons “Sigh No More”
Gorillaz “Plastic Beach”
Band of Horses “Infinite Arms”
LCD Soundsystem “This is Happening”
Arcade Fire “Suburbs”
Broken Bells “Broken Bells”
Yeasayer “Odd Blood”
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers “Mojo”
Local Natives “Gorilla Manor”