[Parlophone, Virgin 2010]
Finally Gorillaz has personality! That may sound odd considering Gorillaz and Demon Days were built on rap swagger and a rebellious image (cartoon band!). But really, I found those albums had some very cool beats, but mostly lacked any permanence: repetitive song structures, aimless meandering, and vanilla pop singles. I associated Damon Albarn's metallic vocals with hip hop-inflected pop that was heaps of style above substance. But Plastic Beach, to my great surprise, is truly a game changer. This album bursts the band's range wide open, and they finally sound dynamic and consequential beyond a groovy background beat. I've never been so emotionally invested in Gorillaz, and credit for that goes to Albarn for the album's refreshing diversity of song moods, more engaged singing, and a tight and intelligent body of lyrics critiquing 21st century consumerism and ecological havoc.
Dom: Sun Bronzed Greek Gods EP
[Burning Mill 2010]
A summery, shimmery set of catchy indie rock tracks from brand new band Dom from Worcester, Massachusetts. Dom has been compared to Girls a lot (a band they themselves cite as a huge influence for them), and certainly several of the songs are melodically underlined by '60s vibes. Dom sounds more planted in the modern, however, from the glistening synths of "Burn Bridges" to the fuzzy stomping beats in "Living in America."
[Illegal Art 2006]
I have a deep respect for sample-based musicians, particularly DJ Shadow and the Avalanches, for the creativity of their art and the mind-blowing skill the craft requires. Realizing through a friend that I would be remiss to bypass mashup king Girl Talk, I gave Night Ripper a listen and I've been floored after each spin. Sure, it's set at a blistering rave party, ADD pace, and you may wish some of the best samples would linger longer (the use of Fleetwood Mac's "Little Lies" in "Overtime"), but this isn't meant to be a contemplative listen. This is balls-to-the-wall, and if your ears can't keep up, fuck it and just dance.