Tuesday, January 5, 2010

CD Odyssey Disc 74: Gorillaz

After all that sixties and seventies rock, the dice provided an interesting tonic for the latest Odyssey edition.

Disc 74 is...Gorillaz (Self -Titled)

Artist: Gorillaz

Year of Release: 2001

How I Came To Know It: Sheila introduced me to the Gorillaz. I have no idea how she came to know them - I vaguely recall they had a couple radio hits along the way, but I rarely listen to the radio. Anyway - this one is from Sheila.

How It Stacks Up: We own two Gorillaz CDs. Of the two, I'd say I like the other one better - but I'll talk about that when I roll it.

Rating: 2 stars with a thumbs up.

I believe Gorillaz is a band that doesn't show their actual faces - instead they all have cartoon personas. It a bit of an odd thing to do, but it is what they like. I don't care if they want to pretend to be cartoons, I'm just here for the music.

Their music is fairly interesting, and I can see why they generated buzz. Most of these tracks (maybe all) are about laying down a funky groove and then having catchy but repititous vocals over top of that beat. I'd prefer a little more range on this album, but Gorillaz certainly know how to do what they do, and in places they stretch their sound into rap, and even a little punk, in the aptly named "Punk".

The big hit on this album is "Clint Eastwood", which quite a lot of people know. It is OK, but seems to have very little to do with Clint Eastwood. The chorus is:

"I'm happy, I'm feeling glad
I've got sunshine in a bag
I'm useless, but not for long
The future is coming on."

I listened carefully, but nowhere did I hear any "feel lucky, punk?" or "shoulda armed himself" or "right turn, Clyde" in the song. For all that, it is a pretty catchy song, and I can see why it was a hit.

There is a lot of this sort of thing - where the song title has nothing to do with the song itself. I find this an annoying affectation of recent music. Just name your song after the chorus - or if you can't bring yourself to do that, then the title should at the very least relate to the songs. If these songs do so, I've missed the connection.

Track 1: repeating lyric: "It's the money'll stop". Title: "Re-hash"
Track 11: repeating lyric: "Get the cool shoe shine". Title: 19-2000"

(I might have these titles mixed up, since it isn't really clear where some tracks end - but that is really just part of the problem).

In the Gorillaz' defence, I don't think these songs are supposed to have a lot of deeper meaning - I think they are just supposed to be groovy. They are fairly groovy, but they don't really move me. Even the song "Punk" is more of an excercise in "Gorillazing" a few punk sensibilities, but not really with a point.

In short, when I listen to this Gorillaz album, I find myself wishing I were listening to the other album of their's that we have, which I think is stronger overall, but never benefited from as big a hit as "Clint Eastwood."

One other note of annoyance - this album has some weird DVD features that makes it hard to upload the music. I still haven't figured out how. I'm not interested in a cartoon video letting me know I have "unlocked the secrets of Murdoc's Winnebago" - since I'm not going to go on line and find out what that is anyway. Hey, Gorillaz! - I don't want to illegally download your music, I just want to put some songs on my MP3 player from an album I already bought. It shouldn't be so hard.

I am not a huge fan of this record, but it has its moments musically, and deserves credit for being different from a lot of what you hear. Hence - a thumbs up, even if I don't put on too much.

Best tracks: Clint Eastwood, Rock the House, 19-2000 (or "get the cool shoe shine" - I think).

1 comment:

Sheila said...

I saw the video for "Clint Eastwood" on Much Music ages ago (of course, it's all the cartoon guys), and totally loved the song. I bought the newer album before this one.