Posts Tagged ‘Gorillaz’
Honorable Mention: KiD CuDi: Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager
#10 Vampire Weekend: Contra
While I’ve been a Vampire Weekend diehard since last January, George says “it makes me want to vomit cartoon rainbows.” Maybe there is something kitschy about Ezra singing about horchata, cheese steaks and toothpaste, but this is no reason to write off Contra. I’ve mentioned before that a good artist can take something simple, commonplace and present it in a completely novel way – in other words, make us pay attention to the clothes rubbing against our skin. This is what Vampire Weekend does. On one level, each song is completely unassuming, on another it’s mind blowing. Take “California English”, so fraught with auto-tune and syncopated rhythm you’re forced to ask “why?!” But the auto-tune is just a creative way to present “California English” or Spanish perhaps? Another way Vampire Weekend present simplicity is through perfectionism – the attention paid to minute detail. Although “White Sky” could be repetitive till dullness, it is instead subtly different through the use of changing percussion and inflections in Ezra’s voice. This is 2010’s version of XX – restraint, simplicity yet subtle complexity. The rarity of this combination is what makes such albums winners.
#9 Major Lazer: Lazers Never Die EP
Pure epinephrine runs through the veins of MAJOR LAZER. This causes him to create perfect dance music. This is what I imagine must be true for such unapologetically obscene dance music to exist. This EP is in part a recognition of all ML has done this year but also an appreciation of the EP itself. The remixes on this album do nothing less than improve upon the originals in the case of “Bruk Out” and in the case of “Jump Up” and “Can’t Stop Now” they remixes present the songs in a form that seems just as natural (or perhaps just as ridiculous?) as the originals.
#8 Arcade Fire: The Suburbs
Talk about album cohesion! Thematic, melting of one song into another, and even similar chord cadences in every song, Arcade Fire produced a soundtrack-like album. It even seems to have a beginning, middle, and end (it ends with “The Suburbs (continued)” that brings us right back to the first song on the album). On a smaller scale, within each song, the chord progressions are also circular. Where the cadence ends is also the beginning of the next cadence. Thus, every song is circular, and the effect is a continuous anticipation for a “real” ending. Maybe, that’s why this album is so catchy and debuted at #1 on the U.S. Billboard and received three nominations at the Grammys.
#7 Tame Impala: Innerspeaker
Listening to tracks like “Alter Ego” and “Solitude Is Bliss” really makes me want to put Tame Impala’s, Innerspeaker as number one on our list. But I honestly have to admit, the album as a whole just doesn’t make it that far. If you dig The Beatles, you might disagree with me, but as fresh as the whole classic rock, phased-out style, backed up by the “I don’t give a s**t” feels, may be, we have better justifications for our current higher rated picks. Innerspeaker succeeds in being nostalgic, without making the same mistake other indie bands make who just succeed in sounding stupid. Their 2008 EP sounds like it could have been made today by the band. That’s because Innerspeaker is Tame Impala’s genuine sound.
#6 Beach House: Teen Dream
Teen Dream is a very personable album. This may sound vague, but Teen Dream is vague. The entire album collectively makes a mess of your emotions. Obviously, from the song titles there is some theme of love, but honestly I can’t tell if the album is about falling in love or breaking up. Every song is introspective and absorbing. For example the song, “Lover Of Mine”, may begin like another kitschy song by MGMT, but after the bass and piano enter to accompany the guitar, the song becomes a pool of thought (perfect day-dream material). I personally found this album to be reflexive but I believe you can perceive this album in any way you wish. You can sympathize with it, embrace it, philosophize, etc. Every track on Teen Dream is unique to any listening aspiration. I don’t know how crazy I am about Alex Scally’s voice singing higher than his female counterpart, Victoria Legrand, but the duo together create a very luscious, yet translucent feel. The perfected and smooth production amplifies its imagery and tone. This album isn’t anything mind-blowing, but it pains me to pause my iPod midway through a song. You can claim that music is ear-candy, but Teen Dream is food for thought.
#5 Gorillaz: Plastic Beach
Damon Albarn clearly strives for grandeur with this album. Heavy beats, soaring orchestrations and collaborations out the wazoo do not mask Albarn’s intentions and in fact do quite well to propel this album most of the way towards what it seeks to accomplish. However, the album is plagued by just a few shortcomings that keep this album inches away from perfection. Unfortunate this was for Damon in a year like 2010 where these kinds of minor shortcomings keep a really incredible album at fifth place amidst some other really incredible releases. One or two really expendable songs (“Glitter Freeze” comes to mind) and a couple other hit or miss moments are the only real flaws and unlike in Demon Days, Damon proves that the Gorillaz project is more than just a vehicle for radio friendly pop singles.
# 4 Sufjan Stevens: The Age of Adz
“Letting loose” doesn’t exactly evoke ideas of frivolous brass and superfluous choir. We usually associate “letting loose” will sloppiness, incompletion and disorder. The wonderful, absolutely amazing, extraordinary thing about The Age of Adz is that it’s everything we wouldn’t expect from a free-form, sufjan-finally-let-loose album – it’s saturated with technical orchestration, complex ideas, story lines and masterful song writing. But even more impressively, the free form is still there – themes meander, noises pop out of nowhere, there seems to be little restraint. What makes this a top ten album is the effortlessness – orchestration that would sound contrived if written by anyone else, flows out of Sufjan like drunken ramblings; song structure that would normally either confuse us or put us to sleep, is instead enthralling and deeply emotional. Sufjan is naturally complex and often stabs at the air with odd “noises”. Every so often he stabs us in the heart and throughout his chaos he carries a beautiful melody and story – the combination of chaos, dissonance and harmony and peace is something only Sufjan could have crafted and something that may never be achieved on such a high level ever again.
#3 Flying Lotus: Cosmogramma
I initially wanted Cosmogramma to be album of the year. This was because from the moment I heard the leaked tracks in early 2010 and still to today, the album hit me on a supremely spiritual level. Its huge “cosmic” sound left me paralyzed. However, perhaps its scope was alienating; you’ve really got to get inside your own head to get into this music. Is this enough to push FlyLo off the top spot? Is it problematic at all? Perhaps, if you’re afraid of dementia or insomnia.
Aside from the psychological problems the album chaperones, FlyLo does some innovative things with his music. For instance, he seems so deliberate with his beat placement and ultimately you can tell because FlyLo’s seemingly sloppy, lazy beat (which in reality is probably incredibly delicately timed) really kills it, in a good way. I mean, if it was just a tad more sloppy in places, it straight up wouldn’t work and it is exactly that teetering on the threshold, that suspended dissolution that makes FlyLo’s music so kickass.
#2 Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
The reason this album is so perfectly effective is because Kanye created an album that is a self portrait of a megalomaniac: A cinematic self portrait that is never self-effacing and always opportunistic. The cinematic aspect of it comes from his ability to sculpt an album that shows his true self from several angles: his obsession with power and opulence, his monstrous ego, his inability to sustain a relationship, his devils and his tribulations. Perhaps the reason MBDTF touches so many people so deeply is because it has an protagonist with whom we can clearly relate: a protagonist who is his own antagonist. Kanye’s got a pretty twisted mind to create such a fantastical album, full of dark imagery yet beautifully brilliant music.
#1 LCD Soundsystem: This Is Happening
Exceptionally danceable. Stylistically nouveau. Tastefully self-deprecating. Often humorous. The facets of this album which, when working in tandem, make this our favorite album of the year are surprisingly actually not that hard to pin down.
In effect, this album just hit our pleasure centers from the very start and the music on this album hasn’t really stopped doing that even now. It’s not even a drip feed of pleasure, it’s like an endless waterfall of pleasure. However, it goes beyond that. The album goes the other way too. The absurdly ridiculous simplicity that this album exudes at first glance is a front for what is actually a crazy synthesis of several incongruous genres into one pseudo-dance-punk-who-cares-for-proper-labeling awesome piece of musical ass. I safely assert that this album contains the songs that James Murphy has been trying to make since “Losing My Touch”. This would be irrelevant if not for the fact that Murphy feels perfectly at ease in these songs. The production is tops, and in fact quite interesting, as Murphy finds way to play with your perception of the sounds he records. The sounds all sound framed in space yet still succulently clear. No sound is hidden or masked but there’s still an infinity of depth. In the end, This Is Happening just happens to be the most perfect album of the year.
I’ve never been a fan of Indie music videos. I think I explained this in my ODDSAC post; “In the Flowers” video almost ruined the song for me. The weird thing is that the video is actually incredible, but paired with the psychedelic music, it can give you nightmares. The video of Gorillaz “Welcome to the World of Plastic Beach” featuring Snoop Dogg is exactly what a music video should be – silly, almost bad yet so amusing, coupled with a top ten song.
EDIT: ApheraMusic was especially upset to learn, through the video, that the vocoder lines that permeate the song, are saying “Just like that,” not, “Just like math” as we had originally assumed. How disappointing… -george
Sufjan Steven’s brand new video for his Adz track, “Too Much”, is very appropriate and very cool. I wish more people danced like this (at a slower than life frame rate I mean).
I’m not really an Ariel Pink fan, but this video for his 2010 track, “Round and Round”, was directed by the Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne and the visual effects are subtly trippy enough to make this a very fun watch. Who does he think he is, Kurt Cobain? Cut your hair!
Next is a video of our beloved Gorillaz, fronted by the lovable Damon Albarn, playing a cover of the XX’s “Crystalised”. Also available is the group playing acoustic versions of their Plastic Beach song “On Melancholy Hill” and the ft. Daley track “Doncamatic“.
That’s My Bitch
Lastly, there’s a New Jay-Z/Kanye Track floating around the interwebs and it’s very awesome. Kind of an old school hip hop beat on top of a nice 8bit bass line.
As you know, we’ve been dormant for the majority of the summer. Regardless of, and perhaps in spite of our inactivity the world of music kept spinning (those bastards). On Monday’s post, Larissa already pointed out several albums that came out that you most definitely should not have missed. All this week we’re posting and we have a surprise for you on Friday. But right here, right now, I’m letting you know what I happened to catch as the last several months flew by…
He’s at the top of his game. He’s putting out a new song every Friday (the last several of which have been absolutely fantastic) and he has a whole album coming out in late November. He also performed on SNL not too long ago. It was one of the most sensational and elaborate live performances the skit show has ever seen. Watch below.
I had never really been that huge of a fan Deerhunter but when I stumbled across this video, I fell in love with this song and now band. Doesn’t Bradford Cox’s performance in front of the camera remind you of Thom Yorke circa Pablo Honey? He sings so sweetly, “No one cares for me/ I keep no company.” It’s a sweet sentimentality and excessive self deprecation that reminds us of how chillingly pleasurable it can feel sometimes to wallow in our own miserable corners: “Cuz I’m a creep/ I’m a weirdo.”
“Hold the Line” is his newest pseudodubstep HOT OFF THA PREZZ sounding track. Guaranteed to make your go ooooooooooh. DL it here and watch the video below.
I was considering going to see these guys two months ago for a concert the day before my birthday. It was going to be a birthday present to myself but those prices were WAAAAY too steep. 75 bucks just to sit in the back of the crowded UIC Pavilion? No thanks, but I did enjoy this brand new track of theirs!
Forgive me for maybe having mislead you a bit about the nature of this post. Yeah sure, a lot of time has passed since we were last consistently posting and this is definitely not an accurate representation of all good things that have passed since then. However, I still feel like being a little timely with what I’m showing you, and besides, I can hardly remember all the good things that happened this summer. So enjoy what I’ve given you anyway and see you again tomorrow!
It started out as a nice day today so I was going to bike to the record store downtown that I like so that I could buy Plastic Beach but it started raining. So much for that… I’ve already heard the album about 40 times and I have a very good idea in my head of what I think about the music anyway. Unfortunately most of what I think is really hard to translate into words. Call me a bad writer, but I prefer the label of a good listener. This album is so hard to write about because it’s so vastly different from most of the music that has preceded it. In fact, even the reputation of the Gorillaz seems to precede this album. Upon reading several reviews where the writer was hung up on the fact that a cartoon band was behind the music, I seem to think Damon Albarn, the man behind the Gorillaz, might have lost some people on this one… but I don’t know where I was going with that idea (okay, maybe “bad writer” is the best way to describe me).
Well enough of that let’s talk about the music: this album has one of the strongest openings to an album I’ve ever heard. It rivals the opening to Radiohead’s Kid A in its sublimity and UNKLE’s Psyence Fiction in its self-absorbed and “rapped on top of” nature. Psyence Fiction was a trip hop album with which this album has many similarities. First of all, they share a collaborative lineup that is comparable in its talent, breadth, and magnitude. Also, they were created by one man with a vision. Sorry for digressing again—back to the intro: emerging from an impressionistic orchestral opening that foreshadows the grandeur of the rest of the album is a slow walking pace simple beat. It grows in complexity, finally dismissing the traditional four bar phrases to which we are extremely accustomed as to throw us off and effectively push us over the edge and into a full blown rap track. In total, the second track is a contrast of stoicism and hip hop sumptuousness. Snoop’s voice is powerful but not in the usual way you’d expect a rapper’s voice to be powerful; Snoop has a power that lies in his irony: we hear Snoop inviting us, “Welcome to the world of the plastic beach,” in his normal tone of indifference which is in stark contrast to the epic buildup of the preceding orchestral intro.
What follows, “White Flag”, seems at first to be quite the novelty. It’s a clever and artful interplay of, not only two very skilled rappers, but of their rapping and the orchestra. Though foreign in many ways, this song proves to exemplify the crazy changes Damon has made in his style and modus operandi. If you would, let me explain the something about the quantum leap that occurred in Damon’s songwriting and production: there’s a difference between those who try to mimick and use a particular type of sound as a vehicle for the song and those who embody that sound in an inseparable unit that makes a perfect song. It’s the difference between Beck’s disco parody, Midnite Vulture, and Hercules and Love Affair’s self titled new wave disco album. All throughout Damon’s career, he had been striving to get that certain sound; overblown examples include the attempt at a soul sound in the closing medley of Demon Days, “Don’t Get Lost In Heaven”/“Demon Days” and to draw from his history with Blur, most of Blur’s early albums were attempts to embody the much earlier styles of the British Invasion. Most of the time Damon hardly got the exact sound he wanted and despite the fact that this is usually evident, the result is still something extremely enjoyable as being original in its own right. However, Damon must had done some real soul searching in the process of making Plastic Beach because this album is neither hit n’ miss nor is it the product of some accidental genius; it is not a pastiche. This is real greatness.
Our mad fanboyism for the Gorillaz has no end.
The video for the first Plastic Beach single, “Stylo”, gets a standing ovation of approval from the aphera team. It has me licking my lips for more but also scratching my head as to what’s really going on. References to other songs and amphibious automobiles just make the video worth a second/third/fourth time through it.
Click the image above or RIGHT HERE to watch the video.
Well the release of Plastic Beach is imminent and I don’t think anyone is as excited as I am. God speed Damon!
Well anyway, the second track has been officially release now and it’s one of the sickest things that 2010 has thrown our way; it’s poppy as hell. The song is called “Superfast Jellyfish” and if features Gruff Rhys and previous Gorillaz collaborator De La Soul. Eat it up cuz it’s smokin’ hot!
I can’t put it up here but click the photo to go to the official YouTube page.
The newest Gorillaz track, “Stylo,” leaked on Tuesday (listen to it here). It reeks of 80’s pop overtones and features the soulful singing Bobby Womack and the lyrical genius of Mos Def. This leak came just 32 days before the release of the Gorillaz new album, Plastic Beach, which comes out March 9. The album as a whole looks like it’s gonna be super killah. Everything from the lineup of musical guests to the album’s 60’s visual aesthetic is making me countdown the days till its release (as Damon Albarn is letting you do here).
In other news, the recent devastation in Haiti has gotten loads of musicians and artists trying their hardest to do something good. One of these bands is Radiohead, who in the midst of recording their new album (YAYAYAY), are going to play a show in LA. They are auctioning off their tickets starting tonight (Thursday Jan. 21) and ending Saturday with all proceeds going to relief efforts. The actual show is on Sunday. Having tried to get Radiohead tickets before for past shows, I can imagine that prices are going to be INCREDIBLE but at least this time it’s for a good cause. Anyway, the following for our blog in LA isn’t huge so it’s unlikely that most of you reading this will actually consider going to the show.
Regardless, we should all do what we can to help, and we should all be very, very excited for Plastic Beach.