MUSIC REVIEW: Gorillaz, Dive, Lana Del Rey, The Vaccines

Gorillaz album cover
Gorillaz album cover
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Gorillaz – ‘Singles Collection: 2001-2011’

Gorillaz have recently released a 15-track collection of their singles, videos and remixes to mark their 10th anniversary as a band. ‘The Singles Collection: 2001-2011’ it has been released on CD, CD and DVD, vinyl and a special edition seven-inch box set.

Originally, the brainchild of Blur front man, Damon Albarn and animator Jamie Hewlett, Gorillaz sparked a new phenomenon in the music world ten years ago. For a band to create and perform music and to completely hide their identities behind four animated members: 2D (lead vocalist, keyboard, and melodica), Murdoc (bass guitar and drum machine), Noodle (guitar, keyboard, and occasional vocals) and Russel (drums and percussion) was something that had never taken place before.

First single Clint Eastwood was released in early 2001 and even now it’s hard to forget what a radical change in direction this was for Albarn. This fantastic melding of hip-hop, rap and spaghetti western soundtracks (the main “I’ve got sunshine in a bag” lyrical refrain is a quote from the movie The Good, The Bad and The Ugly) was a real hit and laid the path down for other successes.

Four albums followed and the innovation continued — 2010′s low-key The Fall set was the first commercially available album recorded solely on an iPad — with Gorillaz ultimately proving to be more of a international success. Live tours followed with band members playing behind large projections of the four virtual Gorillaz characters in a spectacle more exciting than many “real” bands’ stage shows.

Considering collaborators have included (I need a deep breath right about now!) Danger Mouse, Ibrahim Ferrer (Buena Vista Social Club), Del the Funkee Homosapien, De La Soul, Bobby Womack, Ike Turner, Lou Reed, Mark E Smith (The Fall), Bootie Brown (The Pharcyde), Tina Weymouth (Talking Heads), Snoop Dogg, Dan The Automator, Mos Def, D12, MF Doom, Shaun Ryder (Happy Mondays) and Neneh Cherry. It is astounding how well the overall vision comes together. Albarn is a musical intellect who obviously also has a firm grip on how to make collaborations work for the greater feel-good good.

The more famous hits like the none-more-poppy Feel Good Inc, roller coaster 19-2000, slurry surging sounds of DARE and crunchy rap/soul of Stylo are brilliantly complemented with some lesser known gems including top-tapping trumpet fest Rock The House, skittishly downbeat El Manana and the R&B-tinged Doncamatic.

Ultimately, underneath all the polished production and clever pop tricks it’s the quality of Albarn’s lyrics that makes Gorillaz as a band shine. There’s still mileage left in Gorillaz with the catchy yet aptly wistful On Melancholy Hill the high-point of Gorillaz’ output ten years into their career. The Singles Collection 2001-2010 is a wonderful album to recall all their greatest hits. It collects most of the ever-changing band’s singles and throws in a couple of remixes to give a fantastic overview of the project’s overall success.

‘Singles Collection: 2001-2011’ is out now. P.S Murdoc has twitter well worth following!

Dive – Sometime

I discovered this band only last week and this track has caught my attention so much. Dive is one of most the distinguished lazy-Sunday bands in New York at the moment. ‘Sometime’ is the title track from the band’s debut 7”. The track explores a sound of driven guitars and a melodic spirit, which can be compared to similar bands like Warpaint. The sound of Dive’s stargazing guitars mixes well with the sparse drum beat and complements well with the echoing vocals. If you like The Cure, then you will be in for a treat, as it is easy to notice their influence they have had on this band.

‘Sometime’ is out now.

Lana Del Rey - Born to Die

After the huge success of the mysterious ‘Video Games’, there is a second serving from Lana Del Rey in the form of ‘Born to Die’ (personally I think this sounds like some Lady Gaga track title).

This track poses another dark tale from the new artist. Even though some of the lyrics could sound cliché, for example the fatalism of the chorus “You and I/We were born to die”, Lana Del Ray seem to justify these words with an air of understatement, which is appealing. The most important part of ‘Born to Die’ is that it is a grower. Even though it might stand up to the mite of ‘Video Games’, ‘Born to Die’ is a fine achievement.

It is set to release on 23rd January 2012.

The Vaccines - Tiger Blood

After their successful round of this year’s summer festivals, The Vaccines have released ‘Tiger Blood’.

This is two minute track, fuelled with hectic fast paced guitars and fun catchy lyrics. This energetic song will cast away your winter blues and put the band in good stead for 2012.

‘Tiger Blood’ has been produced by Albert Hammond Jr of The Strokes and it is clear to see the guitars do have an air of The Strokes about them. The track was recorded in the summer, with Hammond in rural upstate New York.

‘Tiger Blood’ will be released as a double A-side single with the album track ‘Wetsuit’ and will be available on seven-inch vinyl and as a download.

‘Tiger Blood’ is available to buy now.