Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Music Review- Plastic Beach by Gorillaz

I know! I've been completely MIA for like week now! So sorry to anyone out there. I've probably promised my review for The Social Network a donzen times now but haven't done it...oops. I'll get around to it eventually, I swear! In the meantime, I've had Gorillaz on the brain since last night so need to get it out of me. I was completely stoked when I found out they would be doing a North American tour, and not only that, they would be stopping by my local venue! I was oh so lucky and got a spot in the very front row! The ever so sexy Damon Albarn was just about within arms length from me. Gasp! The entire concert just reminded me why I've been in love with Gorillaz since I first heard their Clint Eastwood single back in high school.

So as you may know, the Gorillaz' third album Plastic Beach came out earlier this year. Of course I jumped on it and purchased it off of itunes the day of. I really had no idea what to expect from it. If you're familiar with their music, you know their music is eclectic and unpredictable. What I got was a big surprise, but in a good way! Their third album was very different from its predecessors but it kept the same integrity. Only musical genius Damon Albarn could throw together such an eccentric mix of musical styles and make it cohesive at the same time.

If you don't know, the Gorillaz is a concept band developed by British musician Damon Albarn (Blur) and comic book artist, Jamie Hewlet (Tank Girl). The idea was to create a virtual universe where these these four fictional, animated band members exist. The four members of the band are lead singer 2D, bass player Murdoc, lead guitarist Noodle, and drummer Russell. The lives of these four characters exist through multiple media channels such as their website, music videos, TV, radio, books, social media, and many other online mediums. Each album has its own story and tells a chapter in the crazy lives of these four lovable characters. An incredible blend of story telling and music.

Their latest album Plastic Beach is, unsurprisingly, revolves around aquatic themes. The Gorillaz' have moved out of the Kong Studio back from their Demon Days to a new studio. Prior to the release of the album, a series of character "idents" showcased each character making their way to their new studio Plastic Beach in the middle of the ocean. This album is probably their greatest collaborative effort yet with special guest appearances from artists like Snoop Dog, Bobby Womack, Mos Def, Mick Jones, and Little Dragon. One of the most incredible things about the Gorillaz is the fact that they can make me listen to and appreciate music genres that I typically don't like or listen to such as rap and European electropop. There's really no one general genre that the Gorillaz fall into. Their a experimental mix of electric rock, alternative rock, hip hop, r&b, electropop, techno and some more genres I don't even know the names of. I appluad Damon Albarn for taking so many different artists, musical styles, and music ensembles and making them work well together. He has really created a brand new music genre in itself.

I found a lot of the music in Plastic Beach to be very hypnotic. The tone constantly shifts from track to track; going from a rap-europop meld to a full on instrumental orchestra movement. You really need to listen to the album a couple of times to get a firm grasp on it. My favorite guest musicians to lend their chops to the album were Mos Def, Bobby Womack and Little Dragon. Seeing these musical acts live, I must say, brought my appreciation for their work to a whole other level. Their enormous stage set had to accommodate a sting ensemble (who all wore sailor outfits!), a rockin' nine piece brass group, a bluegrass ensemble, and backup singers. This was all on top of Mr. Albarn himself, percussionists, keyboardist, a couple of bassists and guitarists, and their musical special guests. Whew!! I didn't know what, who, or where to look at during the concert. This decision was made even more difficult with the enormous projection behind it all rolling cool animated clips.

Beside from the fact that the concert was a musical and visual stunner, I was surprised by how many guest musicians were there. Mos Def and Bobby Womack both showed up and, like I said before, they were right in front my face! Ahh! I still can't believe it! Bobby Womack has still got it I tell you! He was amazing in concert!! Mos Def was very good as well and same goes for Mr. Albarn. Two old Clash members also made the stage: Mick Jones and Paul Simonon. Mind boggling! As expected, for the encore presentation they played Feel Good Inc., but what was not expected was Del La Soul running out onto the stage for this one number. Whew! Damon Albarn, how you managed to pull all this off, I don't know but don't care because I love you for it.

Final Score- 9/10

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