As this weeks inaugural batch of Songs Machines comes to an end, Damon Albarn breaks down some of Gorillazs highests and lowests. Damon Albarn has given his verdict on Gorillazs best songs, and Gorillazs most underrated albums, in a new interview looking back at the careers so far for his animated group. With their highly acclaimed Song Machine album released, I have been doing a little binge on Gorillaz recently, going through their catalog again and checking to see just how much their music has aged well, as well as what songs stood out the most. Their highly-regarded album, Song Machine is easily one of the more mixed-bag releases from Gorillaz, one that seemed set up to succeed, yet fell just short of the typical critical reception that the band typically gets.
Gorillazs debut album covers an enormous array of genres, from reggae, hip-hop, punk, to world music, and straight-up pop. 2010s The Fall is Gorillazs fourth studio album, and was made available four months in advance via digital download for members of Gorillazs Fan Club. The albums success earned English virtual band Gorillaz an entry into the Guinness World Records for being the most successful virtual band, and generated singles Clint Eastwood, 19-2000, Rock The House, and Tomorrow Comes Today. The musicians behind Gorillazs early incarnation included Musician Damon Albarn, Del The Funky Homosapien, Dan The Automator, and Kid Koala, having worked together earlier on the track Time Keeps On Slipping on the debut album of the same name.
Although it was not released under the English Virtual Band name Gorillaz, Albarn has stated that One of Gorillazs earliest tracks was the 1997 Blur single On Your Own, released for their fifth studio album Blur. Their debut album featured their first single, Clint Eastwood, and their first single is what Albarn considers to be the Gorillaz finest. Blur frontman Damon Albarn wrote the music that underpinned Hewletts designs, and together, the two built the foundation of Gorillaz. Their laughter, their energy, their ability to nail that songs bassline…it is one of the most unforgettable pop-rap collaborations ever…and probably the best the Gorillaz has to offer.
Like most Gorillaz albums, Songs Machine is fun in its entirety, but it is most satisfying as a collection of moments; Gorillaz remains the go-to tool of choice for Damon Albarn for making albums that are a little more direct. I mean, in the end, there is still Clint Eastwood, 19-2000, Tomorrow Comes Today, and my personal favourite, Rock The House, all top-tier Gorillaz songs, and all groovey and catchy.
Gorillaz Live Music Review Has Energized
Overall, Gorillaz were able to provide a uniquely collaborative performance — a testament to the experiences Albarn has gained performing live over the course of the 24 years since Gorillaz were first formed. The last time Damon Albarn came to Phoenix, in 2010, the Gorillaz touring line-up included The Clashs Mick Jones on guitar, and Paul Simonon (the man whose bass is smashing in a cover of London Calling, and also plays bass on one of Albarns other bands, The Good, The Bad and The Queen).
Blur and Gorillaz continue to be huge draws on the road, making Albarn one of the few artists on Earth that could fill arenas and headlining major festivals with two entirely different acts, with two entirely different sets of songs. Damon Albarn and his bandmates are mere vessels performing the works of Gorillaz, the most successful virtual band in the world, led by a keyboard-playing singer, 2D, who sounds suspiciously like Albarn; with bassist Murdoc Niccals; a woman known only as Noodle, who plays lead guitar, keys, and vocals; and Russel Hobbs on drums. The British musical groups visual elements are formulated by artist and co-creator of the group, Jamie Hewlett, who is recently released a book catalogueing most of his artwork through Taschen, and Damon Albarn (Blur), who provides the vocals and production for the musical elements of the virtual band.
It was M1 A1, the track on British Musical Groups debut album, which was to open the show. Closing out their set, Gorillaz saved their best for last, taking Wednesday nights night to a crescendo with Feel Good Inc. & the re-imagining Clint Eastwood, which saw the track evolve from a slower intro into a more energy-filled outro, which saw Sweetie Irie helping the group say goodbye to Denver. Wasting no time, the Gorillaz made their way onto stage, rallying the crowd with M1 A1 rallying cries and its chorus, opening up the night with the crowd-pleaser, which promised fans the group knew what fans wanted.
Continuing to pump up audiences all night long, Gorillaz fulfilled every request fans could possibly pose. The Gorillaz managed to execute live performances admirably, despite being a digital-first group, and displayed different styles, all the while maintaining consistent energy. As a virtual band, the highly anticipated Gorillaz were always creative in the way they performed live.
Stylistically, their music is not the prelude of what is about to happen when the Gorillaz take to the stage. Going to one of the Gorillaz concerts and hearing their softer, but still powerful music was a monumental listening experience that I will never forget. The setlist oscillated between energetic songs and slower tracks, and Albarn showed off both his ability to pump the crowd up and his melodica-crooning chops.