Entries tagged with: Damon Albarn
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.
by Andrew Sacher
Adele will release her third album, 25, on November 20. According to an interview with Zane Lowe, it's going to be her last one named after her age, and the album reportedly features collaborations with Danger Mouse, Tobias Jesso Jr, Max Martin, Ryan Tedder, Paul Epworth and Bruno Mars. Damon Albarn and Ariel Rechtshaid are rumored to be involved too.
The first single, "Hello," is out now and as you might expect it's a triumphant piano ballad. Watch the video (directed by Xavier Dolan) and check out the album tracklist, below...
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.
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.
As mentioned, Blur are playing The Tonight Show on Thursday and we wondered if they might do a show while here...and yes they are. Blur will play Music Hall of Williamsburg on Friday (5/1). It's an early show (Trail of Dead got moved to the late show you may remember) and sponsored by Converse Rubber Tracks and is a free show. Honduras are opening and it's all ages. You do have to claim free tickets through Ticketmaster which will be available Wednesday (4/29) at noon.
Blur will be playing The Magic Whip live in full, with some older favorites as well hopefully. This will be Blur's first NYC show with Graham Coxon since 2000. Poster for the show is below...
by Bill Pearis
Songhoy Blues fled their home of Northern Mali when armed Jihadists took control and banned music altogether. In Southern Mali city of Bamako, they caught the attention of Damon Albarn who was there in 2013 with his traveling "Africa Express" project that brought Western musicians (like Nick Zinner and members of Django Django and Metronomy) to Mali to collaborate with local musicians. Zinner ended up producing and playing on Songhoy Blues' debut album, Music in Exile, and he brings a nice grit to their sound. It's a terrific record -- which gets its physical US release on April 21 -- and you can stream it below. Songhoy Blues just released a live performance video for "Soubour" which features Zinner, and you can also see them in new documentary They Will Have to Kill Us First: Malian Music in Exile. Check out the documentary trailer and live video below.
Live, Songhoy Blues need no help conveying their joyous, funky sound. (I caught them at the afterparty for the recent David Byrne tribute and they were great.) You may have seen them when they opened for Alabama Shakes back in March, and they played SXSW and a few other NYC shows as well. They'll be back for a few more US shows, including two in NYC.
The NYC shows happen June 15 at Rough Trade and June 16 at Mercury Lounge. Tickets to both NYC shows go on sale to the general public starting Friday (4/17) at noon. All dates are listed below...
"Thank you all for showing up and playing your part in our success of reaching the goal!! Continue to spread the word!" - De La Soul
photo: De La Soul at Irving Plaza in 2014 (more by PSquared)
Legendary rap trio De La Soul haven't released a new album since 2004's The Grind Date (not counting the album two members put out as fictional group First Serve in 2012), but they're finally ready to change that. It's called and the Anonymous Nobody, and the group launched a Kickstarter for it yesterday (3/30), and successfully funded the album in under 24 hours. It's set to feature collaborations with Damon Albarn (who they worked with previously in Gorillaz), 2 Chainz, Little Dragon, David Byrne and more TBA. Plus, they're allowing anyone who pledges at least $7,500 to appear on the album as well. They also talk a little bit about the recording process...
Sampling is basically copying a piece of sound, from one recording, and reusing it to create a new recording. It is how De La has always made music. The sampler is our instrument, but people who copy, and in this case "sample," have also been considered thieves and unoriginal. So, unfortunately a huge part of our career has also been spent fighting off the "sample police."Though the album's been successfully funded, you still have 32 days to donate to it and receive exclusive rewards. More details on that here.
Enough of those battles! For the new album, we needed a completely new approach, something Hip-Hop hasn't done before. So, here it is: For the first time, we're going to sample ourselves.
Over the last three years, we've hired some of LA's finest studio musicians and recorded them in free-styled, unrehearsed, jam sessions. They played everything from banjo to upright bass, sometimes up to a dozen musicians at once; simply allowing sounds to integrate. We did 90% of these recordings in one of LA's most classic studios, Vox. We chose Vox because we wanted our recordings to have that creamy analog warm mixing board sound that the old records our parent's once played had. With over 200 hours of sounds, and vibes, equal to about 250 to 300 full-length vinyl LPs, it's time that we get to the work.
Here's the interesting part. We are now in the process of going back to that 200+ hours of music, listening, enjoying and discovering those special moments where, musically, something magical happens, where interesting sounds and layers were forgotten, where new sounds can be sampled, looped, chopped, filtered and arranged, freely, without the intrusive presence of publishing politics and the infamous "sample police." What we've done is created our own crates of records; album upon albums to mine and sample from.
They also have dates coming up, including Arts & Crafts' Field Trip Festival in Toronto. Full tour schedule below...
Woohoo! Blur have just announced The Magic Whip, the band's first new album in 12 years, and their first in 16 years to feature guitarist Graham Coxon on the whole thing. It's out April 27 via Parlophone. The band recorded most of the album in Hong Kong and then finished it with their longtime producer Stephen Street. That's the cover art above and you can stream "Go Out" from it (and check out the tracklist) below.
Blur will also play the British Summer Time Festival in London's Hyde Park on June 20. Poster for that show is below.
Damon Albarn may be having a busy year, because supposedly Gorillaz are coming back too.
Sleaford Mods at their US debut (more by PSquared)
The Guardian has been sloooowwwlllyyyy revealing their Top 40 Albums of 2014, having rolled out the top 10 one by one over the past 10 days. If you've been following along, you probably already guessed their #1 by now, but if not you can browse their full list of 40 below. It's got a lot of this year's list regulars, and like many of the British publications have, it gives some major love to Sleaford Mods (maybe you caught their US debut in NYC?). Also The War On Drugs shuts out Sun Kil Moon once again (they're not #1 but close). Sorry Koz.
Check out the full list below...
by Andrew Sacher
The Best Albums of 2014 lists keep coming, and now Rolling Stone's is out. It's hard to imagine anyone else picking the #1 and #2 they did, but that's Rolling Stone for you. It's also hard to imagine a list placing the new albums from Weezer and the Foo Fighters so high, but smacking buzz band Ought right in between them. And it seems random that YOB comes in at #50 when no other metal album makes the list, not even the critically acclaimed one by Pallbearer or any of the hugely acclaimed returns from veteran bands like At the Gates, Godflesh and Electric Wizard. Also, don't tell Jack White how much higher The Black Keys placed than him.
Check out their top 50 picks for yourself, below...
It's the last week of November and we've hit Best-of List Season. Especially in the UK where we've already seen album lists from Rough Trade, MOJO, Q, and Uncut. Now here's long-running UK weekly NME with their LPs and tracks of the year. Topping the lists are St. Vincent's self-titled album, and Future Islands' omnipresent "Seasons." (Sorry, The War on Drugs, you're slightly lower on the list here.) And just to remind you they are British music magazine, Kasabian figure into both lists. Check out NME's full Top 50 LPs/Tracks of 2014 lists below...
We're just over a month away from 2015 and those UK year-end lists keep pouring in. Now British music mag Uncut has posted their 75 Best Albums of 2014. Looks like their winner is becoming a popular choice for #1, and the rest of their top 10 is split between real-deal veterans (Leonard Cohen [falling just a tad from his 2012 #1 spot], Robert Plant) and rising newcomers (FKA twigs). Elsewhere the list has a lot of the indie-related albums that keep popping up, a good deal of folk/country, more veteran appearances, and a certain opinionated UK duo who have appeared on every UK list we've seen so far and make their US debut this week.
Check out the full list below...
We just posted Q Magazine's Best of 2014 albums list and now here's the same from sister publication MOJO. Not only do they share a publisher, but also more than half of same albums appear on both lists. The War on Drugs was #2 here, making war for Beck's Morning Phase in the top spot. Check out the whole list below.
While MOJO is seen as a safe haven for "heritage" acts, there are some records in their Top 10 that don't prominently feature acoustic guitars: coming in at #3 is Sleaford Mods' Divide and Exit. You can catch the Mods' North American live debut this Saturday (11/29) at The Wick with The Gotobeds, The Rogers Sisters and "very special guests" who will be announced closer to the show. Tickets are still available.
MOJO's full Top 50 LPs of 2014 list below...
Rough Trade were the first out of the gate with year-end lists but now long-running UK monthly music mag Q has just published their end-of-the-year issue (with cover star Ed Sheeran) which includes their Top 50 LPs of 2014. The War on Drugs' Lost in the Dream comes in at #1. Have you made your list yet? Check out the rest of Q's favorite albums of 2014 below...
Rough Trade NYC on Record Store Day 2014 (more by Amanda Hatfield)
As they usually are, Rough Trade Shops are one of the first this year to post their favorite albums of 2014 list. It's 100 albums long and mostly filled with the bigger indie and indie-related releases of the year, but there's a few surprises in there too. Mark Kozelek will not be happy to see that The War On Drugs placed #2, 8 higher than the Sun Kil Moon record. Mark should be proud that he made the list not once, but TWICE though. His Christmas album landed at #84. Run the Jewels, who are not on it all, have started a "Suck My Dick Rough Trade" chant. Check out their full list below and see more on each album here.
GoGo Penguin's 'V2.0' album art
The 2014 Barclaycard Mercury Prize shortlist has been announced and here are the 12 albums up for it:
FKA twigs - LP1The winner will be announced October 29. Last year's winning album was James Blake's Overgrown. Who do you think will win this year?
Damon Albarn - Everyday Robots
Young Fathers - Dead
East India Youth - Total Strife Forever
Bombay Bicycle Club - So Long, See You Tomorrow
Anna Calvi - One Breath
GoGo Penguin - v2.0
Nick Mulvey - First Mind
Polar Bear - In Each and Every One
Kate Tempest - Everybody Down
Royal Blood - Royal Blood
Jungle - Jungle
photos by Erina Uemura
Flaming Lips / Outcast / Arcade Fire @ Fuji Rocks 2014
The transition from indie darlings to stadium-rockers is rarely a painless one, although a decade on from the release of its debut album "Funeral," Arcade Fire proved that it has at least navigated that path better than most. The band's performance was mature and assured, although lacking the latent spark of aggression that had originally marked it as such an exciting prospect. Occasionally there was a flicker of the Win Butler and co. of old, such as the wonderfully anarchic and incongruous modular synth solo during "Reflektor." The group's renditions of "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)" and "No Cars Go" were also particularly spirited, even if the latter's lyrics are perhaps a little bit too timely: "We know a place where no planes go."The Fuji Rock Festival has been happening has been happening the last weekend of July since 1997. Originally held at the Base of Japan's most famous mountain, since 2000 Fuji Rocks has happened at Naeba Ski Resort and the 2014 was last weekend (July 25 - 27), featuring Arcade Fire, Outkast, The Flaming Lips, Saint Vincent, Franz Ferdinand, White Lung, Slowdive, SBTRKT, Disclosure, The Waterboys, Yoko Ono and lots more over its three days. Pictures from all three days are in this post.
Conversely, it's hard to imagine The Flaming Lips ever changing their style for anyone. Wayne Coyne, as ever, looked delightfully shambolic, outfitted in a combination of tinfoil and an "Attack on Titan" cosplay bodysuit that he'd no doubt copped from Don Quijote the night before. Naturally, he was flanked by giant dancing mushrooms. The group wasted no time, jumping almost straight into fan favorite "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1″ while unleashing a shower of confetti, setting the tone for a relatively short but saccharine sweet love-in. - [Japan Times]
Outkast, Lorde, Temples are among the Fugi Rocks performers who are in Chicago's Grant Park this weekend for Lollapalooza. Lot more pictures from the 2014 Fuji Rocks Festival below...
Jack White at Bonnaroo 2014 (photo by Brian Mansfield)
As always, legacy acts enjoyed a good showing at the festival. Elton John played the entire first side of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, gave a tribute to the late Casey Kasem, and brought out Ben Folds for a guest spot. Ben had also appeared a day earlier with The Flaming Lips during their set to cover Usher's "Love In This Club" (video below), a set which included Wayne Coyne playfully throwing some shade at Kanye's set from earlier in the festival, asking the crowd "Where's the press?"
Lionel Richie played a set that included everything from his time in the Commodores ("Brick House") to "All Night Long" to his Diana Ross collaboration "Endless Love." More legends graced the Bonnaroo stages when Chaka Khan made a surprise appearance during the Derek Trucks-led SuperJam on Friday and covered Led Zeppelin and Stevie Wonder. Also in that jam were blues legend Taj Mahal, Anthony Hamilton and once again, Ben Folds. Led Zeppelin member John Paul Jones himself appeared at the festival to sit in with bluesman Seasick Steve, which he has done before with Jack White.
Jack White, who we also just caught at Governors Ball, didn't play with John Paul Jones this time, but he did play his own set which included a cover of Zeppelin's "The Lemon Song." It also included calling Rolling Stone a "tabloid," ranting about Johnny Depp and Albert Einstein (watch out Kanye!), and otherwise him rocking out to cuts from his solo albums, Raconteurs, White Stripes, The Dead Weather, and a cover of Dick Dale's "Misirlou." Video and setlist from Jack's set, below.
Damon Albarn w/ De La Soul at Bonnaroo 2014 (photo by 97X)
Skrillex led a SuperJam too which involved Janelle Monáe, A$AP Ferg, Warpaint, Doors guitarist Robby Krieger, Mystikal, Damian Marley, and Thundercat, among others. The set was closed by none other than Ms. Lauryn Hill, who played "Killing Me Softly" a la Fugees, Bob Marley's "Jamming" (though not with Damian) and more. More old school big guns came out during Damon Albarn's set, which was split between Gorillaz, Blur, The Good the Bad & the Queen and solo material. De La Soul joined him for "Feel Good Inc." and Del The Funkee Homosapien for "Clint Eastwood", Setlist and videos are below, and check out pictures and more from his recent Irving Plaza show.
Elsewhere, Omar Souleyman, who couldn't make it to Northside Festival experienced no travel issues and played a set on Thursday night. James Blake also played and told Billboard while he was there that his new album is halfway done and will include collaborations with Kanye West, Justin Vernon and more. Arctic Monkeys, who were covered twice during the festival (by Sam Smith and MS MR), played their own set too and to a HUGE crowd, heavy on the AM stuff but with a little bit of their other four albums mixed in. What didn't happen, unfortunately, was the set by Broad City's stars that were supposed to perform in the Comedy Theatre but canceled their set.
Of course the huge festival had tons of other highlights too. Did you go? What were yours?
Videos and a few setlists from the fest, below...
photos by Dana (distortion) Yavin; words by Bill Pearis
Damon Albarn @ Irving Plaza 6/8/2012
"I've played here before, back in... 1994?," Damon Albarn told the crowd at Irving Plaza, talking about an early Blur tour some 20 years ago. "I think I climbed up that scaffolding." There was no climbing last night, though Albarn did get down into the crowd for a song or two. This was an official afterparty for Governors Ball, which Albarn had played on Friday (6/6) and this was probably the smallest place he'd played since that Blur tour. "As you may know, my new album [Everyday Robots] is a little somber, which makes it difficult to play at big festivals," Albarn admitted, though a chance to get up and close with some very adoring fans (some who'd driven from Canada to be there) clearly had him in a good mood. "I'm really enjoying this, I must say" he later said. The crowd did too.
While most of the set was Everyday Robots songs -- plus some of the more reflective songs from his many musical endeavors -- Albarn did work in a few party pleasers, playing Gorillaz's "Kids with Guns" and bringing out Chicago's Vic Mensa for the rap on "Clint Eastwood" (video below) and a chorus for the final two songs. I thought for sure with the choir they'd do "Tender," but no dice. (Also no dice on "This is a Low," which was on the written setlist but went unplayed.) Albarn was at his most affecting, however, playing a solo piano rendition of Blur's 2003 single "Out of Time." Usually playing the straight frontman role in Blur and Gorillaz, this show was a nice chance to see what a good musician Albarn is, too. Setlist is in this post.
Outkast / Damon Albarn / Grimes / Phoenix
NYC music festival Governors Ball kicked off its 2014 edition yesterday (6/6) with sets from the reunited Outkast, Blur/Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn, Grimes, TV on the Radio, Phoenix, Neko Case, La Roux, Rilo Kiley singer Jenny Lewis, Washed Out, Janelle Monae, Kurt Vile, Run the Jewels (Killer Mike + El-P) and still more.
Outkast's much-anticipated set (like many of their other festival sets this year) started with both Big Boi and Andre 3000 on stage for tons of favorites right off the bat including "B.O.B.," "Gasoline Dreams, "ATLiens," "Rosa Parks," "Aquemini," "Ms. Jackson," and more. Then Big Boi did three songs alone, Andre did three alone (including "Hey Ya!" for which Janelle Monae came on stage to dance), and then another Outkast set. The second set ended with "The Whole World," for which they brought out Killer Mike to rap his verse. Pictures of all artists mentioned (and more), plus Outkast's setlist and a video of "Hey Ya!" are in this post.
GovBall continues today (6/7) with Diarrhea Planet taking the stage in about two hours (12:45 PM), and other sets include Jack White, Spoon, The Strokes, Disclosure, Broken Bells, Chance the Rapper, Deafheaven and more.
More pictures from day 1 below...
by Bill Pearis
Damon Albarn is in NYC currently, getting ready to play Governors Ball tonight (6/6) and Irving Plaza on Sunday (6/8), both part of his current tour. While here, he stopped by The Tonight Show last night to perform "Lonely Press Play" from his new solo album, as well as an old Blur nugget: the gorgeous "This is a Low" from Parklife, which turned 20 years old in April. Videos of both are in this post.
While some artists, like Jarvis Cocker, keep their solo sets free of songs from previous bands, Albarn has been peppering his sets with cuts from Gorillaz, The Good, the Bad & the Queen, and Blur. A recent setlist is below. Tickets are still available for Irving Plaza.
Videos from The Tonight Show below...
by Bill Pearis
Damon Albarn @ SXSW 2014 (more by Tim Griffin)
We mentioned earlier today that Damon Albarn would be playing Irving Plaza on June 8, one of the official Governors Ball afterparties. He's playing Governors Ball proper, too, and doing a string of dates between that fest and Bonnaroo. All dates are listed below.
Album's solo debut, Everyday Robots, comes out this week (4/29) and features appearances by Brian Eno and Bat for Lashes' Natasha Khan. It's by far the most sedate, wistful record of his career though. If you're familiar with songs like Blur's "Tender," Gorillaz's "Broken" or The Good The Bad & the Queen's "The Bunting Song," you mostly know what to expect. You can still listen to the album for free via iTunes and a few track streams, videos (including the new one for "Heavy Seas of Love") and a "track by track" commentary from Albarn, are below.
In other news, Albarn happened by London's Red Lion pub last week (4/23) and joined the house band for a rendition of Blur's Britpop classic "Parklife." Video of that is below too.
Damon Albarn at SXSW 2014 (more by Tim Griffin)
Governors Ball hit's NYC's Randall's Island from June 6-8, and like in past years, a few of the artists playing will play afterparties in various NYC venues. This year's afterparties include:
Kurt Vile and the Violators on June 5 at Brooklyn Bowl.Tickets for all afterparties go on sale Friday (5/2) with a presale beginning Tuesday (4/29) at 10 AM (password: govballnyc). The Kurt Vile, Washed Out, and Damon Albarn shows are especially intimate and will likely go pretty fast.
Tourist on June 5 at Westway.
Washed Out at Brooklyn Bowl on June 6.
Earlwolf (aka Odd Future's Earl Sweatshirt and Tyler the Creator) at Irving Plaza on June 7.
Classixx at Brooklyn Bowl on June 7.
The Chain Gang of 1974 with Black Taxi at Knitting Factory on June 7.
Caycuas with Little Comets at Glasslands on June 7.
Diarrhea Planet with Total Slacker and LVL UP on June 8.
Damon Albarn at Irving Plaza on June 8.
Check out the day-by-day GovBall lineups HERE.
Afterparties flyer below...