Results for Damon Albarn

interviews

Art Brut

This week's guests are the members of Art Brut: Eddie Argos, Ian Catskilkin, Jasper Future, Mikey B., and Freddy Feedback. Sound Opinions was anxious to get these Brits on the show after seeing them play at the SXSW Festival in Austin, TX. The band, which got its name from a French theory of outsider art, was in Chicago as part of its first U.S. tour, and just released its first album, Bang Bang Rock and Roll, in the U.S. earlier this week.

After lead singer and songwriter Eddie Argos warns the kids to "stay off the crack", we hear a bit of music by Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers. Richman was a major influence on Argos as a songwriter. Argos explains that his career as a musician did not really come easily. After his former bandmates all left to go to university, Argos moved to London for a second try. But there were not many takers, because, as Argos explains, he is not much of a singer and can't play an instrument. Lucky for us, an inebriated Argos was able to convince a few people to join him, and so emerged Art Brut.

What Argos may lack in singing talent and musical ability, he certainly makes up for in personality. In the vein of singers like Damon Albarn and Lou Reed, Argos knows that attitude, wit and a voice are more important than formal training. That voice comes through in songs like "Formed a Band," where he expresses delight in the sheer act of forming a band.“Why not?”he explains to Jim and Greg.“Why can't we get on Top of the Pops?”People who have seen the band (who tours in a 40-foot tour bus) play live know that is a valid question indeed.

Go to episode 24

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

Turkey Shoot 2014

Turkey Shoot: It's Turkey time! Dip these albums in the deep fryers (safely of course). Here are the albums that most let Jim and Greg down in 2014:

Go to episode 468
reviews
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
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 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
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
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
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 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
Welcome to MaliDimanche a Bamako available on iTunes

Amadou and Mariam Dimanche a Bamako

The second album up for review is by Malian duo Amadou and Mariam. The blind couple broke through to Western audiences with their 2005 album Dimanche a Bamako. Now they are back with Welcome to Mali, and are joined by Damon Albarn and K'Naan on a couple of tracks. Jim describes the album as a constant source of sunshine and gives it a Buy It. Greg agrees. He calls Amadou a master guitarist with a modern sensibility. Welcome to Mali is a double Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 175
Favourite Worst NightmareWhatever 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

The Arctic Monkeys is one of the biggest success stories of recent years. The English group's debut album Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, was the fastest selling album in U.K. history. Their U.S. sales were not as strong, but people were still anxious to hear what the group would do for its sophomore act. In fact, they face the same scrutiny that hot debut bands like Franz Ferdinand and The Strokes had to overcome. Neither Jim nor Greg think that their new album, Favourite Worst Nightmare, will be any more successful stateside than the last, but both urge listeners to give it a listen. Greg compares lead singer and chief songwriter Alex Turner to some of the best British wits including Ray Davies and Damon Albarn, and likens his songs to short stories. Jim agrees, calling Turner an astute social critic. The Arctic Monkeys may not be the phenomenon it once was, but Favourite Worst Nightmare gets two Buy Its.

JimGreg
Go to episode 75
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

Turkey Shoot

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, which means it's time for Sound Opinions' annual Turkey Shoot. These aren‘t just bad records, they’re bad records from artists that are capable of better. Nothing stings like disappointment, and these were the biggest musical disappointments of 2012:

Go to episode 364

The Best Albums of 2014…So Far

Jim and Greg share their mid-year best album picks. Their best-of lists of 2014 albums have surprisingly little overlap.

Go to episode 448
news

Music News

While Taylor Swift fans may think she made history way back in 1989 by simply being born, the charts will remember Swift for the year 2014, as it marks the first time in twelve years that an artist's album has sold more than one million copies in its debut week. This feat, achieved by Swift's fifth studio album 1989, is no small one given our age of streaming music services and record leaks. That's why the secret to Swift's physical album sales success might just be her recent decision to pull all her music off of streaming music supergiant Spotify. Swift now joins a growing chorus of musicians like Radiohead's Thom Yorke who reject Spotify's business model, one that only pays artists a fraction of a penny for each stream of their songs. Spotify, of course, defends its model, but Swift stands by her assertion that music is art, art is valuable and therefore it should be paid for. And yes, by art she means "Shake It Off."

On the opposite end of the commercial spectrum from superstar Taylor Swift is the self-described “Liberian/Nigerian/Scottish psychedelic hip-hop electro boy band,” Young Fathers. Despite the alternative hip-hop group's relative obscurity, its album, Dead, just won the UK's Mercury Prize, an annual honor given to the best British or Irish album of the year. The win was an upset for more buzzed about artists like FKA Twigs and Damon Albarn, and many criticize the award for favoring obscure bands that are never heard from again. To be fair, well-known and still active acts like PJ Harvey, Franz Ferdinand and Arctic Monkeys have taken the prize home in the past, but whether Young Fathers have staying power or not remains to be seen.

Go to episode 467

Music News

In music news this week, a lot of people are talking about Dolly Parton's performance at the recent Glastonbury Music Festival in England. She was celebrated onstage for her sales over 100 million, and this quintessentially American singer drew Glastonbury's biggest TV audience for the BBC. But, a lot of folks are saying that was an entirely canned performance (not that there's anything fake about her).

Jim is amused by another news item. Phil Collins will be donating his collection of Alamo related artifacts — one so vast it's considered the world's largest such private collection. He told the AP, "Some people would buy Ferraris, some people would buy houses…I bought old bits of metal and old bits of paper."

Finally, Jim and Greg remember soul singer, songwriter, session player and poet Bobby Womack. Greg writes in-depth about the musician here and here. And to honor him, Jim and Greg play a recent song produced noteworthy fan Damon Albarn.

Go to episode 449