Results for Blur

interviews

Stephen Street

Jim and Greg often like to invite a noteworthy record producer to come on the show to share some behind-the-scenes insights. This week they talk to Stephen Street. Stephen worked with The Smiths on three of their landmark albums during the 1980s. Then in the '90s, he recorded with Blur on five of their releases. He also produced the hugely successful debut by The Cranberries. Today he continues to work with top British bands like Babyshambles and The Klaxons. Stephen shares with Jim and Greg some of the backstory of making tracks like "Meat is Murder" and "Girls and Boys." He also expresses huge admiration for both Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon of Blur. Stephen thinks a Blur reunion is not far off-much more likely than a Smiths one.

Go to episode 243
specials

MTV's Silver Anniversary

MTV turns 25 this week. To celebrate (or perhaps mourn), Jim and Greg discuss the station's impact on the music industry. To kick off the dissection, Sound Opinions surveys the opinions of festivalgoers at Chicago's Pitchfork Music Festival.

Go to episode 36
reviews
The Magic WhipThe Magic Whip available on iTunes

Blur The Magic Whip

After a 12-year hiatus, English rock band Blur returns with its new album, The Magic Whip. Graham Coxon and Damon Albarn formed the group in 1989 where they gained success in the UK. While critics always embraced them, they never quite achieved commercial success in the U.S. outside of the track "Song 2." Greg likes the record and appreciates its honest lyrics and overall strength. He believes this effort is better than the members' solo work. The Magic Whip exceeded his expectations and he gives it a Buy It. Jim considers himself a Blur superfan. He argues that there are a few really great songs but the rest range from lukewarm to bad. Jim thinks Blur is starting to slow down a little but still gives the record a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 493
Everyday Robots (Special Edition)Everyday Robots available on iTunes

Damon Albarn Everyday Robots

Since founding the Britpop group Blur, frontman Damon Albarn has bounced from project to project – writing and singing for Gorillaz, collaborating with African artists on Mali Music, and even composing an opera called Dr Dee. But only now, at age 46, has Albarn finally released a solo album. Everyday Robots is a deeply personal debut, with Albarn boldly exploring his dark past, existential crises and struggles with heroin. But the constant brooding is too much for Greg. He insists that Albarn's work with Gorillaz was just as personal, yet more upbeat, and with hooks you could dig into. Robots, on the other hand, is a Trash It. Jim couldn't disagree more. He considers the album a masterpiece, with Albarn baring his soul over“heartbeat percussion”and stripped-down instrumentals, and would absolutely Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 440
Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm NotWhatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not available on iTunes

The Arctic Monkeys Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not

One of the albums Jim and Greg review this week made so much news that they need to discuss it at the top of the show. The British band The Arctic Monkeys broke records this week when its debut album became the fastest selling in British chart history. While neither Jim nor Greg can fully comprehend this phenomenon, they both like the record. Jim gives the album a Buy It rating, but admits that The Arctic Monkeys are not nearly as amazing as the hype might have you believe. Greg likes lead singer Alex Turner's Streets-like approach to lyrics, but doesn't think the Arctic Monkeys are a great band yet. He gives Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not a Buy It too.

The Arctic Monkeys are not the first British band to face this kind of hype. There have been a number of UK bands who achieved rave reviews and huge success but were never able to break out across the pond. A look at lists compiled by British media outlets The Guardian and NME demonstrate this point. Bands like The Jam, The Stone Roses, The Libertines, Blur and The Smiths are up there with The Beatles and The Clash in the minds and hearts of British fans and critics, yet none of these groups achieved any major fame in the States. One theory given by Jim: Americans are discerning of imports ever since the first "British Invasion." Greg points out that there was a second British invasion in the '80s, and wonders if it is the very Britishness of some of these bands that prevent American fans from identifying. Or perhaps some tastes just don't translate.

JimGreg
Go to episode 10
The Bravest Man In the Universe (Expanded Edition)The Bravest Man in the Universe available on iTunes

Bobby Womack The Bravest Man in the Universe

Like Patti Smith, Bobby Womack's got a storied musical history. He played with Sam Cooke in the sixties, was a session musician for Aretha Franklin and Sly Stone, and finally made a name for himself as a solo artist with classic R&B albums like Communication and The Facts of Life in the seventies. Unfortunately addiction dragged him down and by the nineties Womack was a musical nonentity. With The Bravest Man in the Universe, Womack announces his comeback. He's cleaned up and is working with producer Damon Albarn of Blur. Womack and Albarn have played it smart, Jim says, by not living in the past. The electronic soul tracks Albarn's created for Womack don't sound vintage in the slightest. The themes might be familiar - Womack sings from the point of view of a man who done wrong - but the music is challenging and fresh. Greg agrees. While he wishes Albarn and Womack hadn't turned over quite so many tracks to guests like Lana Del Rey, he's loving Womack's sandpapery voice. Double Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 345
Humanz (Deluxe)Humanz available on iTunes

Gorillaz Humanz

The virtual band led by Blur's Damon Albarn, Gorillaz, is back with the group's fifth album. While they may technically be a“fictional”band, their impressive record and concert sales are very real. Their new record, Humanz, features collaborations with artists like Mavis Staples, Pusha T, Jehnny Beth of Savages, Grace Jones and more. Jim thinks Humanz is another great and creative effort from Gorillaz. He thinks the guest cameos work well from track to track, and that Damon Albarn created an interesting, dystopian effort. He gives it a Buy It. Greg is also a big Gorillaz fan, and thinks that Albarn gets the best out of his guests, and particularly loves the cameos from new artist Benjamin Clementine and rapper Vince Staples. While he doesn't think much of the collaboration track from Albarn and“enemy”Noel Gallagher of Oasis, he thinks Humanz is a great end of the world party soundtrack. He gives it a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 598
The Good, the Bad & the QueenThe Good, the Bad and the Queen available on iTunes

The Good, the Bad and the Queen The Good, the Bad and the Queen

The final album up for review this week is by The Good, the Bad and the Queen. The band is a“supergroup”of sorts, formed by former Blur frontman Damon Albarn. Like with his project Gorillaz, Albarn is joined by a number of big name musicians and producers including The Clash bassist Paul Simonon, Verve guitarist Simon Tong, pioneer and Africa 70 drummer Tony Allen and DJ Danger Mouse. Fans are anxiously awaiting a potential Blur reunion, but for now they have this group's self-titled debut. Jim, for one, is sated. He thinks Albarn is one of the greatest creative forces working today and finds the album to be a really effective, sustained mood piece. He gives The Good, the Bad and the Queen a Buy It. Greg, on the other hand, was completely bored by the record. He didn't hear any all-star talent from the all-star lineup and gives a Trash It rating.

JimGreg
Go to episode 61
Plastic Beach (Deluxe Version)Plastic Beach available on iTunes

Gorillaz Plastic Beach

Kicking off the reviews this episode is Plastic Beach, the latest from Gorillaz. The project is helmed by Damon Albarn of Blur and features a cast of guests to create its animated fantasy world. Greg is impressed at how the singer/producer can bring together so many seemingly mismatched elements, sounds and voices and still end up with something wonderful and cohesive. Greg gives Plastic Beach a Buy It rating. Jim goes so far as to call Albarn a genius. He notes that it's a darker record, but gives it a Buy It as well.

JimGreg
Go to episode 224
The FallThe Fall available on iTunes

Gorillaz The Fall

Gorillaz, the animated act fronted by Damon Albarn of Blur, has a new album out called The Fall. The title is both a reference to the band and also to the fact that this might be their last album. Albarn recorded the songs on his iPad while traveling on the last tour. Therefore, it's lower-key with fewer guest stars. Jim appreciates this quiet, ambient sound. It's a little sleepy at points, but he says Buy It. Greg admires the modest, headphone quality of the record, but defines this as a“must-own”only for hardcore fans. For the rest of you, he says, Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 282
Circus (Deluxe Version)Circus available on iTunes

Britney Spears Circus

If you've heard about Britney Spears' new album, tour or documentary, then you know that she is trying to stage a comeback–her second in just over a year. The record at the core of it is aptly named Circus. As Jim and Greg explain, Britney is not only aware of her life dramas, but she's commenting on it. But the comments she, or perhaps her music team, are making are very disturbing. Take the track "Blur," which Greg imagines could only be describing a drug-fueled date rape. But, both critics admit that while troubling, the songs are some of the best-produced of her career. Circus is truly a guilty pleasure, and Jim and Greg give it a Try It rating–at your own risk.

JimGreg
Go to episode 158
dijs

Jim

“Vaseline”Elastica

Jim was in a Britpop mood when he chose this week's Desert Island Jukebox song. When you think Blur you think Damon Albarn, and when you think Damon Albarn, you might go back to his former lady love Justine Frischmann of Elastica. Incidentally, M.I.A. also ran in circles with Frischmann, and they collaborated on some of her early songs. Elastica broke up by 2001, but before that they released a slew of great pop-rock hits, including "Vaseline."

Go to episode 243
lists

Musical Grand Slams

With Chicago baseball trying to keep their heads up during this World Series, we thought we'd inject a little joyous noise into this baseball season. Jim and Greg team up with Len Kasper, TV voice of the Chicago Cubs, to pay homage to their version of a Grand Slam. We all know how this works in baseball (though sports-phobe Jim DeRogatis is still getting the hang of the rules). A batter hits a home run with bases loaded, sending four players to home plate. In music, Jim and Greg define a grand slam as four masterpiece albums in a row. Which artists have achieved this rarest of rock feats? Jim and Greg sit down to compare stats.

Go to episode 518

The Best Songs of 2015: Mixtapes

Before we fully jump into 2016, let's say goodbye to 2015 with the year's best singles.

Go to episode 527

Favorite Literary Rock songs

Recently Jim and Greg were invited to speak at Washington College in Maryland about the relationship between rock and literature. They were eager to share some of their discussion this week on the show…and play music! While pop music doesn‘t get taken as seriously as the great novels of our time, for critics like Jim and Greg and for music fans, it’s as important a“text”as any other. Literary rock can mean multiple things — great rock criticism, poetic lyrics and even songs inspired by literature and poetic lyrics. Here are some of Jim and Greg's favorite Literary Rock songs:

  • Roxy Music, "In Every Dream Home a Heartbreak"
  • The Rolling Stones, "Sympathy for the Devil"
  • Patti Smith, "Gloria"
  • Cannibal Ox, "Iron Galaxy"
  • The Kinks, "The Village Green Preservation Society"**
  • Sly and the Family Stone, "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)"
  • Blur, "Parklife"

**Ray Davies fans should check out his 2008 visit to the show.

Go to episode 176

Grand Slam Allstars

Go to episode 383