Entries tagged with: Blur
Illustration by Ryan Casey
We already saw Rolling Stone's top 50 albums of 2015, and now they unveiled their top 50 songs too. It's got a lot of the songs you couldn't avoid this year even if you wanted to: "Hello," "Hotline Bling," "Trap Queen," plenty of The Weeknd, one appearance by Justin Bieber. There's also indie rock anthems like Titus Andronicus' "Dimed Out," "Kurt Vile's "Pretty Pimpin," Courtney Barnett's "Pedestrian at Best"and Tame Impala's "Let It Happen," a nod towards raw DIY with Sheer Mag's "Fan the Flames," and a lot more. Check the whole thing out below.
It's the season for year-end lists, and they just keep rolling in. Now longrunning (and now free) UK weekly NME has joined the party, going with Grimes' Art Angels at #1 on their top 50 albums of 2015 list (she also topped Gorilla vs. Bear' and SPIN's lists). Kendrick Lamar comes in at #2, and those two records are really topping a lot of lists this year. Elsewhere on the list, you can find indie stalwarts like Bjork, Sufjan Stevens, Joanna Newsom, Deerhunter, and Sleater-Kinney, pop nods like Future, Lana Del Rey, Charli XCX, Carly Rae Jepsen and Miley Cyrus And Her Dead Petz, and an emphasis on British acts like Foals, The Maccabees, Coldplay, Sleaford Mods, Bill Ryder-Jones, Laura Marling, The Cribs, and of course Blur. For good measure, Ryan Adams comes in at #50 with his Taylor Swift covers album.
Check out the full list below...
Rolling Stone has published their list of the Top 50 Albums of 2015. As always, it has older artists who don't seem to pop up on many other lists (Madonna, Darlene Love, Mark Knopfler, Boz Scaggs, Keith Richards, James Taylor, Don Henley) (did you even know Don Henley released an album this year?). There's also two major rap albums in the top 3 (with Adele sandwiched in between), a good amount of country (Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton, Eric Church, Ashley Monroe), smaller indie rock bands (Hop Along, Car Seat Headrest), mainstream pop (Selena Gomez, Carly Rae Jepsen), alt-rock giants (Muse, Marilyn Manson), and a lot more. And they're counting D'Angelo's December 2014 release for this list (it cracks the top 5).
Read their commentary here and check out the whole list below...
Happy December! SPIN are celebrating the first day of the last month of the year by putting out their Top 50 Albums of 2015 list. It's a diverse list, with the top 10 ranging from DIY-indie (Alex G) to mainstream country (Kacey Musgraves) to leftfield major label rap (Vince Staples and Kendrick Lamar). The list also has metal from Deafheaven and Krallice, electronic from RP Boo, Rabit, Oneohtrix Point Never and SOPHIE, R&B veteran Janet Jackson, and plenty more. Check out the whole thing below.
They also put out their 101 Best Songs of 2015 list, which is topped by Justin Bieber.
The new issue of UK music mag Uncut is out now, and it includes their Top 75 Albums of 2015 list. Like fellow UK mags MOJO and Q, they've got a lot of love for Julia Holter. They also have Sleaford Mods pretty high, lots of the 2015 year-end regulars in the top 10 (Kendrick, Sufjan, Father John Misty, Tame Impala, Courtney Barnett), and lots of older musicians throughout the list (Keith Richards, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Richard Thompson, Nick Cave, Killing Joke, PiL, Paul Weller, Robert Forster, etc). Check out the full list below.
British music mag Q just put out their latest issue which has Coldplay on the cover and also includes their Top 50 Albums of 2015 list (not including the new Coldplay album, which isn't out yet). It's got a lot of the bands that the UK press tends to favor more than the American press (Palma Violets, Wolf Alice, Years & Years, Slaves, Everything Everything), tons of the stuff we'll probably see on most lists (Tame Impala, Sufjan Stevens, Kendrick Lamar, Courtney Barnett), and a few surprises.
Check out the full list below...
We're happy to announce that BrooklynVegan is part of Spotify's "In Residence" series where we'll not only curate a monthly playlist, but premium users can hear us talk about it too. Head to Spotify HERE now and click "follow" to make sure you never miss an episode.
For our first show, BV editors Andrew Sacher, Bill Pearis and Dave sat down to talk about some of our favorite music of 2015 so far, and other digressions. We taped the show in late July, so keep that in mind if any of it sounds slightly dated. (A segment where Bill bets Dave a million dollars that Lush will never ever reform was cut.)
Anyone can listen, though you will need to be a Spotify Premium subscriber to hear our lovely speaking voices.
Other Spotify In Residence shows/hosts include former Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones, dance act Jungle, and UK grime artist Big Narstie.
Stay tuned for a brand new BrooklynVegan episode in December. Meanwhile, listen to November's...
photo: Blur @ MSG (more by Dana [distortion] Yavin)
Blur's new documentary/concert film New World Towers will have its U.S. premiere this weekend as part of the DOC NYC festival, playing Sunday (11/15) at the SVA Theater. Tickets are still available. Here's the synopsis:
Earlier this year, iconic Britpop band Blur surprised their legion of fans with the release of a new album, The Magic Whip, their first as a foursome in 16 years. Blur: New World Towers goes behind the scenes to reveal how an unexpected break in Hong Kong during their 2013 reunion tour inspired the chart-topping album, recorded in secret, and the particularly pivotal role guitarist Graham Coxon played in the process. Sam Wrench's intimate film explores the band members' enduring friendship, spontaneous creativity, and candid reflections on celebrity and the band's future while showcasing more than a dozen of their songs in spectacular concert performances in Hong Kong and Hyde Park.Blur have shared a new clip from the film where they band talk about what it's like being Blur again after so long apart, and you can watch that, along with the trailer for the film, below.
Blur: New World Towers will be released in UK theaters on December 2. The band promise an international release, stay tuned for details.
You can check out pics from Blur's show at MSG last month here.
The 2016 DOC NYC Festival happens from November 12 - 19 and includes a number of music films on this year's roster, including Peelander-Z's Mad Tiger and Miss Sharon Jones!. Other screenings include: the US premiere of Blur: New World Towers (11/15 @ SVA Theatre) which follows the band as they make this year's The Magic Whip; the NYC premiere of Theory of Obscurity: A Film About the Residents (11/14 @ IFC Center) which peeks behind the curtain (but not the masks) of one of the most enigmatic and weird groups ever; and Janis Joplin documentary, Janis: Little Blue Girl (11/15 @ SVA Theatre). There are also screenings of Amy and Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, a 45th anniversary screening of Rolling Stones doc Gimme Shelter, and more.
photo: Blur at MSG - 10/23/15 (more by Dana (distortion) Yavin)
photo: Mitski in McCarren Park in June (more by Amanda Hatfield)
photo: Downtown Boys at Palisades in May (more by Alyssa Tanchajja)
Blur have not been the most pleased with the current state of music lately. Bassist Alex James, who spends most of his time these days as a cheesemaker, said "that culture of independent music that I grew up with has disappeared really" but that the same independent spirit lives on in the current foodie movement. And frontman Damon Albarn insists songwriters are now too narcissistic and not concerned with the outside world: "But look at music now. Does it say anything? Young artists talk about themselves, not what's happening out there. It's the selfie generation. They're talking platitudes. What are any of them saying? I don't hear anything other than: 'This is how I feel.' Which is an important part of song-writing, but we're talking in the context of the election - and they don't have anything to do with it."
Blur's Damon Albarn recently said: "Look at music now. Does it say anything? Young artists talk about themselves, not what's happening out there. It's the selfie generation." How do you feel about that?Blur was just in the US for shows at Hollywood Bowl and Madison Square Garden with Courtney Barnett (who then played Baby's All Right).
"What is this 'music now' that he's referring to? What better, more altruistic musical era is he comparing ours to? His own? When 'Song 2' came out (a megalith of mindful lyricism, to be sure) the top five Billboard songs of the year were 'Something About the Way You Look Tonight' by Elton John, 'Foolish Games' by Jewel, 'I'll Be Missing You' by then-Puff Daddy, my karaoke staple 'Un-break My Heart' by Toni Braxton, and 'Can't Hold Me Down,' again by Puff Daddy. I just wiki'd that knowing what I'd get - wonderful classics that are about people's feelings.
"Artists young and old have and always will talk about themselves. But you know what? Young artists talking about themselves can be the most political thing done today, and is something a lot of them couldn't have done before, or at least not to an audience. Now that music has been greatly democratized by the internet, young artists, non-cis male artists, artists of color, artists who even a decade ago wouldn't have been given a voice by the few controlling the airwaves, are starting to find bigger platforms to talk about their previously silenced personal histories.
"They can reach out to and unite with other people like them, and maybe even create change through their art. All Albarn sees are younger people talking about things their own generation is facing, and he doesn't understand them, or doesn't see those issues as important, so he deems them unimportant altogether.
"That doesn't seem very evolved. That seems like a stereotypical wealthy, white man only considering his own concerns as important, his own perspective as legitimate. I would suggest he go to a Downtown Boys show, if they ever play near wherever he's living, and see if he's still of the same mind by the end of their set."
Mitski and Downtown Boys both played recently during CMJ, and DB will hit NYC again in December with Shellshag, Vacation and Bad Canoes. Watch a full-set video of Downtown Boys at Death By Audio, below.
photos by Dana (distortion) Yavin
"It looks like we made it to the end," Albarn sang in "To the End," a certainty in numbers that kept turning up all evening: in the gospel pastiche "Tender" from 1999's 13; the young, clinging lovers of "For Tomorrow" on Modern Life Is Rubbish; even during the brittle isolation of 13's "Trimm Trabb." Albarn sang much of that song bent over a cluster of fans in the front, as if lying on a bed of adulation; at one point, as he intoned the line "I sleep alone," a hand reached up like contradiction, stroking his head with a soothing-angel's touch.Blur played a very enjoyable, favorites-filled set at Madison Square Garden on Friday night (10/23), their biggest NYC show ever. Opening was Australia's Courtney Barnett (who can headline pretty big places herself these day) who then stuck around NYC to play the slightly smaller Baby's All Right on Saturday night (10/23).
"Tonight, for us, is about saying thank you," Albarn announced before singing "End of a Century" from Parklife. It was actually something he said repeatedly, citing friends, family, the crowd and colleagues like Street. But Blur at the Garden was also a victory earned - celebrated with perfect timing. - [Rolling Stone]
More pics, and Courtney's MSG setlist, below...
by Bill Pearis
Blur @ MSG 10/23/2015 (via @brooklynvegan instagram)
Blur headlined MSG tonight (10/23) one of only two U.S. shows this fall. With a very similar setlist to what they played in L.A. earlier this week, the band hit most of the best notes from throughout their catalogue. "This is a Low," from Parklife, was a particular highlight. Speaking of, while L.A. got Fred Armisen on "Parklife," the band brought out a randomly chosen group of fans to dance, and allowed one girl to do the first verse which she pretty much nailed. It was a very fun show. Courtney Barnett opened. We'll have pictures from the show soon but meanwhile check out Blur's setlist below.
Blur w/ Fred Armisen @ Hollywood Bowl 10/20/2015 (via @wbr)
Blur are in America as we speak and played their first of two shows in the country on Tuesday night (10/20) at LA's Hollywood Bowl. Unlike their show at Music Hall of Williamsburg this spring that mainly showcased new album The Magic Whip, the Hollywood Bowl show trotted out the hits, from Madchester-era early single "There's No Other Way" to "Coffee & TV," "Beetlebum," "Song 2," "To The End," "This is a Low," "Girls & Boys," "For Tomorrow" and some deep cuts like Parklife's "Badhead." For "Parklife," the band brought out Fred Armisen to do the spoken word parts (originally performed by Quadrophenia's Phil Daniels) which he almost entirely re-wrote to be about LA. Video of that and Blur's Hollywood Bowl setlist, below.
Courtney Barnett opened the show and she'll do the same when Blur plays NYC's Madison Square Garden on Friday (10/23). Tickets are still available (and we're giving away a pair, too). Who might Blur bring out for "Parklife" here? Is John Oliver busy?
photo: Gorillaz @ MSG, 2010 (more by Bao Nguyen)
Gorillaz will be back in 2016, according the group's visual designer, Jamie Hewlett, who told DIY they're in the early stages now:
I don't want to say too much about it, but I'm at that phase of experimentation. What I try not to do when I'm working in this creative period, the cooking of the mess, is go to other peoples' exhibitions and look at other peoples' work. I close my eyes, and don't want to know what anyone else is doing. Doing that has kind of ruined the creative process for me in the past, and I don't want to let that happen again.Stay tuned for more details on that. Gorillaz' last studio album was 2010's Plastic Beach (not counting the one Damon made on his iPad). Meanwhile, Damon Albarn will be in NYC soon when Blur play Madison Square Garden on October 23 with opener Courtney Barnett. Tickets are still available and we're giving away a pair as well.
Albarn being carried off stage at Roskilde 2015
Damon Albarn played Denmark's Roskilde Festival over the weekend (7/4) as part of Africa Express, the project he founded that brings together Western and African musicians. Where most festival sets keep things short and sweet, sticking to the hits, the Blur and Gorillaz frontman -- along with Songhoy Blues, Nick Zinner, Jeff Wootton, and Seye Adelekan -- played a marathon five-hour (!) set that also featured appearances from Blur's Graham Coxon, Laura Mvula and more. When the 4 AM curfew hit, Albarn still wasn't ready to get off stage and launched into a cover of The Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" That question was answered by security who carried him offstage while he was still singing. Video of that, plus Africa Express performing Gorillaz's "Clint Eastwood" and a song with Coxon/Mvula, below.
Albarn will be in the U.S. with Blur this fall, playing the Hollywood Bowl (10/20) and NYC's Madison Square Garden (10/23) with opener Courtney Barnett. Tickets to MSG are still available but if you'd like to go for free we've got a pair to give away and as a bonus it comes with a vinyl copy of Blur's The Magic Whip. Entry form is below.
photo: Courtney Barnett at Bowery Ballroom in May (more by PSquared)
To follow their (very tiny) first NYC show since 2003, Blur are returning for much larger US shows at LA's Hollywood Bowl on October 20 and NYC's Madison Square Garden on October 23. If that wasn't exciting enough, those shows just got a pretty awesome opener: fast-rising indie rocker of the moment, Courtney Barnett.
Courtney has other dates, and will be in NYC for a headlining show this month at Terminal 5 (7/22) with Speedy Ortiz (who also play NYC with Waxahatchee) and Torres (who also plays NYC with Garbage). That show is sold out.
All Courtney dates are listed, with the video for "Pedestrian At Best" off her great new album, below...
A man who has an endless supply of irons for the fire, Damon Albarn has written the music for a new stage adaptation of Alice in Wonderland which will make its debut at the upcoming Manchester International Festival. (It's not his first stab at the theatre.) Titled wonder.land, it reimagines Lewis Carrol's classic fairytale as an online game where shy Alice escapes to from her unhappy life. Lyrics are by Moira Buffini and the production is directed by National Theatre's Rufus Norris. The musical will run at Manchester International Festival from June 29 - July 12, and will begin its London run in November. You can watch a trailer for it below.
photo: Blur at MHOW in May (more by PSquared)
Blur, who played their new album The Magic Whip and a couple other songs in NYC this spring, will be back in North America for big shows on both coasts. They'll play NYC's Madison Square Garden on October 23 and Los Angeles' Hollywood Bowl on October 20. Tickets for MSG go on AmEx presale today (6/15) at noon and MSGE presale Friday (6/19) at 10 AM with the general on-sale starting Saturday (6/20) at 10 AM.
Tickets for Hollywood Bowl go on AmEx presale today at 10 AM Pacific with the general on-sale also on Friday. No word on shows for the rest of North America. Updated dates are listed below...
Blur will release a comic book this week, titled Travel To Hong Kong With Blur. Made with Hong Kong comic artist Kongkee of Penguin Lab, it's a 24-page visual companion to Blur's new album, The Magic Whip, where the band take a futuristic trip through the city of its title. It's available from Blur's webstore starting June 12 and will also be available at the Blur's concert merch tables. Let's hope NYC will have a merch table this year.
Watch a video about the Blur comic's creation, below...
Dash Radio, the online radio network which now includes East Village Radio as one of its stations, officially launches today though it has been broadcasting in beta for a while now. EVR's lineup includes returning shows like Chances With Wolves, Club Ted (aka Gay Beach), and Andy Rouke's Jetlag, and they're also broadcasting Blur drummer Dave Rowntree's show as well. Like all stations on Dash Radio, shows are done live and it's ad/subscription free. Welcome back, EVR!
Other folks with shows/stations on Dash Radio include Odd Future, Snoop Doogg, Mac Miller, Rinse FM, XXL, Isaac Hayes, Cherrytree Records, TLC's T-Boz, and there's currently an Entourage station surrounding today's movie release (if that's something you want to listen to). As mentioned, the EVR folks will soon be adding Dash Brooklyn too. That will broadcast live from a storefront studio on N. 7th and Wythe in Williamsburg. Stay tuned for that, and for other developments.
Blur have made a video for the "Ong Ong," which is probably the most sing-a-long-able song on their new album, The Magic Whip. Directed by Tony Hung, the band star as Big Bosses in a NES-style video game: Damon Albarn is "Mr. Cream," Graham Coxon the cockroach "Mr. Brown," Alex James is the tomato-y "Mr. Red" and Dave Rowntree is the fly "Mr. Black." You can watch it below.
Blur will be playing select dates (mostly festivals) over the summer. Still no word on North American dates (they played NYC last month). They do have dates in Chile and Mexico on October, however. Stay tuned. All dates are listed below.
Blur @ MHOW 5/1/2015 (more by PSquared)
If you follow Blur on Instagram you may have seen them, over the weekend, post little mini-films about each track on their new album The Magic Whip. Turns out those were snippets from a half-hour documentary on the making of the album that Blur have now released in full. You can watch it below.
Blur played their first live show since The Magic Whip's release on Friday at Music Hall of Williamsburg here in NYC and you can check out pictures, video, setlist and review, if you haven't already.
photos by PSquared; words by Bill Pearis
Blur @ MHOW 5/1/2015
Blur played Music Hall of Williamsburg on Friday (5/1), a free surprise show sponsored by Converse Rubber Tracks which marked a number of firsts: it was Blur's first live show since the release of their new album The Magic Whip, their first NYC show since 2003 and their first in even longer with guitarist Graham Coxon back in tow. (It was also the first time this writer had seen them since The Supper Club in 1997.) Along with frontman Damon Albarn, drummer Dave Rowntree and bassist Alex James, Blur were augmented by a chorus, extra percussionist and keyboardist. Pictures, video and setlist from the show are in this post.
Damon Albarn was in a very good mood the whole time, sporting a mischievous grin for most of it, and spent a lot of time trying to crack up guitarist Graham Coxon when not continuously dousing the audience with water. Like in London in March, Blur played almost all of The Magic Whip, in order, and it all sounded pretty great. You do notice live the fast song / slow song / repeat nature of the record but that was alright. Especially good: the very Blur-esque opener "Lonesome Street," thoughtful "There Are to Many Of Us," the '70s funk lite of "Ghost Ship" and sing-a-long "Ong Ong" (which they played on The Tonight Show.) The best part for me was watching Graham Coxon, still an amazingly inventive guitarist, play. At one point he either pushed up his glasses or scratched his face with his knee while still playing guitar. It seems impossible now that they existed those years without him. The only Magic Whip song they didn't play was Gorilaz-esque "Ice Cream Man," and when an audience member shouted for it, Damon said "If you'll have us back, we promise to play it next time."
Blur came back for a three song encore, doing "Beetlebum," Parklife deep cut "Trouble in the Message Center," and then, because it's America, "Song 2" which basically sent Music Hall into hysterics. Great show. As for the line, it was long but folks were behaved and from what I could tell, it seemed like everyone got in. They made you print out your tickets (no mobile apps) which sent some people in search of an internet cafe, but they weren't checking IDs against tickets and once they opened doors the line moved quick. The only craziness was people trying to get the very nice free show posters after the gig, which was a bit like Black Friday at Toys R Us.
Opener Honduras, who were chosen after being involved in the Converse Rubber Tracks program (which provides bands with recording time at Brooklyn's Rubber Tracks studio), really lucked out with a packed captive audience. They did pretty well with their vaguely Brit-pop-meets-Strokes guitar pop. They actually play MHOW again tonight, opening for Twin Peaks. Pictures from their set, and lots more from Blur, below...