damon albarn


V.25 No.33 | 08/18/2016

New Album from De la Soul Coming Next Week

Listen to single "Greyhounds" feat. Usher

Hip-hop veterans De la Soul have been pretty quiet since their 2004 album The Grind Date. That’s about to change: on August 26th, we get a new De la album called and the Anonymous Nobody….

But the collaborators on this album are anything but anonymous. Of the four singles from the new album that De la have released, three feature big name musicians: there’s Snoop Dogg adding a verse to “Pain,” Little Dragon on the ethereal, minimalist track “Drawn,” and now, Usher croons the chorus to “Greyhounds,” a wistful ballad about those who uproot themselves and search for a better life in a new area code.

Along with the new singles comes a tracklist for the upcoming album, which holds even more collaborations with heavy hitters. There’s a track with 2 Chainz, one with Damon Albarn, and even one with David Byrne. Let that sink in: De la Soul and David Byrne made a song together. It’s truly a magnificent time to be alive.

V.23 No.4 | 1/23/2014

Music

Rooster Roundabout: This week’s music highlights

Damon Albarn, of Blur and Gorillaz fame, has announced that he's coming out with a solo LP, titled Everyday Robots. The album comes out on April 29, which is still a little down the road, so that gives you time to save some pennies. But Albarn has made the title track and video available, so you can check that out below.

Amnesty International is putting together a Human Rights Concert (well, putting it back on, so to speak), and they've gotten some good names to provide the tunes, like Flaming Lips, Lauryn Hill, Cold War Kids, etc. But most importantly, they're gonna have Pussy Riot at the festivities … or at least the two members who were formerly imprisoned, but released about a month ago. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina will make an appearance on Feb. 5 at the Bringing Human Rights Home concert at Brooklyn's Barclay's Center. So pack those bags and get to steppin'!

I've probably said this before, but I don't mind saying it again. I hate Kanye West. No. Hate is a strong word. I severely dislike Kanye West. Is the man talented? Yes. Does he need to shut his mouth if he's not spitting fierce rhymes over intricate beats? Yes. But he doesn't. That's the problem. Regardless, when Kanye isn't on a soap-box, he's actually an extremely talented individual. So I guess it's fitting that Interview Magazine paired him with innovative filmmaker Steve McQueen (Shame, 12 Years a Slave) for a print interview. You can read that here.

When you see a music project simply called Miserable, you have to take a listen. So it was a leap that I took when Stereogum highlighted a new track by Miserable, or Kristina Esfandiari (formerly of Whirr). Granted, I've never listened to her former band; this dark, brooding track immediately drew me in. The wall of sound existing within the short expanse of time it takes to get through it is immediately apparent, the thundering drums that quietly linger in the background before becoming a full force all their own. It's a nice treat. The track (titled “Bell Jar”) comes off her Halloween Dreams 7-inch, which hits the streets on Feb. 18. But you can hear the track below.

According to NME, in 1992 Columbia Records threw a special 30th anniversary concert for Bob Dylan at Madison Square Garden, which featured performances by numerous legends, from Johnny Cash to George Harrison, from Tracy Chapman to Lou Reed. And now that special concert is going to be released on CD and DVD on March 4. You can click here to get a full tracklisting of the CD and see a trailer for the DVD release.

I'm a huge Beck fan, just in case that's not already been made painfully obvious. Whether I'm listening to the gutter-soaked ramblings of a “loser” on Mellow Gold, or the electronic intonations of a veteran on The Information, the man just doesn't stop. And now Beck has released the audio of a track (“Blue Moon”) off his upcoming record Morning Phase. The album comes out on Feb. 25, which is right around the corner, so just bear with me while I try to contain my excitement. You can hear the track below.

Nicki Minaj and Drake have proven to be ubiquitous entities in the music-sphere. Good for them. It's a hard business, ain't it? So then it must be time to celebrate. I guess that's why their label is releasing Young Money: Rise of an Empire, which features tracks from Lil Wayne, the aforementioned Drake and Minaj, Birdman, Tyga and others. You can hear the Lil Wayne's track (“We Alright”) with Birdman and Euro, and read more about the compilation here.

Doesn't retiring from the music business mean not releasing any more albums? Or does it just mean releasing music but not making a public statement over it? In Tina Turner's case, it's the latter. The 74-year-old rock and soul icon has announced an album of love songs, titled Love Songs, to be released on Feb. 4. According to Billboard, the album will have some Turner classics like “What's Love Got to Do With It?” and “Private Dancer,” and some unreleased tracks. So get ready for that one.

I've only sporadically heard songs from Gary Clark Jr., but the amount of praise that's been thrown his way has been hefty. I remember reading a glowing story about the blues musician in Texas Monthly, and that made me curious about him. Of course, I forgot his name and never looked back. That won't happen twice. Now Gary Clark Jr. is coming out with Blak and Blu: The Mixtape, which features unreleased tracks and remixes featuring such names as Big K.R.I.T., Erykah Badu, Talib Kweli and more. You can hear the Big K.R.I.T. Remix of “Blak and Blu” over at Consequence of Sound. Apparently the mixtape doesn't have a release date yet. So keep your eyes and ears open.

Bet you never thought Patti Smith would cover a Rihanna track. Well, she did. A video recently surfaced of a concert performance from December that features Smith singing the somber ballad “Stay.” You can view that below.

Drag City, a record label hosting such contemporaries as Joanna Newsom (one of my all-time favorites), Bill Callahan and Ty Segall, has teamed up with Fred Armisen to release a series of 7” records of … wait for it … “Saturday Night Live” songs from Armisen's time on the show. You can head over to Stereogum to read more about that.

Uh-oh, someone's trying to bring the roof down in a big way. English electro duo Disclosure released their debut LP (Settle) last year. Now they've redone their track “F For You,” but they've added Mary J. Blige to the mix. This version of the bombastic club jam will definitely hit some turntables in the coming months (if it hasn't already). You can see the video for the track below.

V.22 No.43 | 10/24/2013

It's official. The Donna Summer remix album is set to come out on Oct. 22. This remembrance of a disco-pop icon (titled Love to Love You Donna) will feature various artists from Duke Dumont to Giorgio Moroder. In fact, SPIN is currently streaming an unreleased track, titled “La Dolce Vita,” by Moroder and Summer.

Who says there's a cap on how many alter-egos you can make for yourself? If there is, Snoop hasn't gotten that memo. Snoop Lion (now under the monicker Snoopzilla) has teamed up with Dam-Funk to create a project, titled 7 Days of Funk. They're releasing an eponymous album on Dec. 10, and you can hear a track from said release (“Faden Away”) over at Pitchfork. So if you dig what Snoop does, mark those calendars!

Try as she might, a friend urged me to like Saves The Day for years (years!). Granted they're not bad musicians, but after a while their music seems to get a little samey for my taste. However, when Chris Conley gets an acoustic guitar in his hands, magic happens (see “Take Our Cars Now!”). The band took some time to play at Billboard's Manhattan studio and talk about their new album, one of their most famous tracks (“Cars and Calories”) and more.

You say Creedence Clearwater Revival, and I'm there. One of my all-time favorite bands, it's no wonder that artists are attracted to the allure of these Louisiana-swamp-bayou-centric rockers, what with their fantastic riffs, John Fogerty's voice and their knack for soulful blues tendencies. I could gush all day, so let me get to the point. Social Distortion (that punk band) has covered their track “Up Around The Bend” for the upcoming animated feature Free Birds. You can hear that over at Rolling Stone.

Sufjan Stevens is one of those musicians who experiments and experiments to the point where processed jpegs leak out of the sound bytes he delivers to the masses, which is why I couldn't really come to grips with The Age of Adz. Having said that, sometimes Stevens can make electronic soundscapes sound almost mandatory in that they're so easy on the ears, why say no? He's shared an unreleased demo, titled “Take Me.” You can hear it below.

In my honest opinion, globe-trekking artists are the best kind for one reason and one reason only: They sometimes work with the locals. … which is what Damon Albarn is currently doing in Mali. Recording an album with the likes of Nick Zinner (of Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Idris Elba (of “Rocknrolla”) Brian Eno, aforementioned locals and UK hip-hop artists, Albarn's project is called Africa Express. And you can read more about it at The Guardian.

Screaming Females are one of those revivalist punk rock bands that maintains an air and attitude beyond the constraints of typical self-awareness. What I mean is that they don't give a shit, and it shows in their excellent psych/grunge twinged musicianship and wild rock mantras. Moving along … they've shared a new single that's split with fellow punkers Tenement. The track is is called “Ancient Civilization.”

Blues legend Blind Willie Johnson is just one of many stellar musicians that shaped an iconic sound that many artists still draw from, whether they're yowling blues sentiment over an acoustic guitar or simply touching on love lost. Producer Jeffrey Gaskill has initiated a Kickstarter campaign in an effort to raise money to record a Blind Willie Johnson covers album. Tom Waits, Lucinda Williams, Sinead O'Connor and more have already signed on to partake in the record (if and when the funding comes through).

I think Bruno Mars is a fresh face within the pop realm. His beats and inspirations convey sort of a whimsical throwback to the pop days of old, and I like that about him. Granted his music doesn't always hit the nail on the head, he's still worth looking into as far as top-40 pop is concerned. Now Mars has shared a video for his track, “Gorilla,” from his latest album Unorthodox Jukebox. You can watch that over at Rolling Stone.

If you've never heard The Kelley Deal 6000, they're definitely worth a listen. Kelley Deal (twin of Kim Deal) made an appearance this week on “Lil' BUB's Big SHOW” and even went so far as to have Lil' BUB help her produce a new single, titled “Shirtcrush.” The track is pretty up to par with Deal's earlier work, making it a nice addition to her repertoire and a nice reminder that she's still got some songwriting chops under her belt.

For those who are interested in hearing Katy Perry's new album (Prism) in full, head over to Consequence of Sound. Otherwise, you can wait 'til next week.