Album Review, Broken Bells, Broken Bells Review, Bruce Willis, Dan Black, Dan Black Review, Dan Black UN, Dan Black UN Review, Danger Mouse, Gorillaz, Gorillaz Plastic Beach, Gorillaz Plastic Beach Review, Gorillaz Review, James Mercer, Plastic Beach, Plastic Beach Review, The Shins
>The only Electronic group with literally animated group members and consistently mind-blowing videos have released their third album last month. Talking about the Gorillaz naturally, who have made a name for themselves with great imagery, hotly discussed videos, and a handful of insanely catchy and iconic hit singles. With the groups first single from their new album “Plastic Beach“, you get a real indication of what the album will be. The video for “Stylo” (video at the bottom of this post) follows in their great tradition, and is yet another consistent and captivating music video co-starring Bruce Willis of all people. The song however, while good, is just a bit Too mellow and even guest appearances from Mos Def and R&B veteran Bobby Womack can’t really make the song itself more memorable. And that’s the main problem with the album, which is in general a good effort just not a very hard-hitting one. Not that the Gorillaz have ever been anything other than a mellow/chill Electronic group, however in their previous albums they did a great job at infusing some really catchy and more upbeat cuts into the mix. This album doesn’t have a “Dirty Harry” or a “Feel Good Inc.” or even a “Dare” or “Clint Eastwood”.
The good thing about the album is it’s very cohesive and the “Plastic Beach” idea is felt in the vibe of the very relaxing tracks. And better still, the featured appearances from the likes of everyone from Snoop Dogg, Lou Reed and De La Soul mix in perfectly. There vocals never seem to take away from the moody and chill tone of the album. This album seems to be perfect if you are going to listen to the whole thing on maybe a road trip, or just some sort of a relaxing playlist for the beach or wherever. Not their best, but definitely not a bad album.
Danger Mouse is also back. The producer you SHOULD know who was behind the incredible albums by Gnarls Barkley, the aforementioned Gorillaz, The Black Keys and Beck in the past few years. This time, he’s teamed with The Shins front man James Mercer to form the duo and album titled “Broken Bells“, which is another tremendous feat in Danger Mouse’s discography. His production style is definitely present on this album which was released last month. Danger Mouse is the king of moody and pretty dark productions, and that vibe can be felt on this album. However unlike Gnarls Barkley’s sophomore album and Beck’s “Modern Guilt”, Mouse infuses a little more light into his sound with this album. It makes for a wonderful aural experience, and the best album of the year so far. And what makes this collaboration a little better than his previous productions for Cee-lo, Black Keys and Beck is that Mercer’s voice seems to perfectly match the style of the tracks. Beck delivered a bit of a mumbled vocal performance and Cee-lo’s voice, although very unique, can get a little grating after a while. And those previous albums were terrific albums even given the vocal complaints, but that’s just the reason why “Broken Bells” works so beautifully is because both members truly compliment each other.
Another great thing about this album is it’s one that can be enjoyed on the whole, but if you take the singles by themselves they still stand out. “Citizen” “Mongrel Heart” and “The Ghost Inside” can be very worthy follow up singles with great hooks and melodies and of course great production. Even “Sailing to Nowhere”, which plays almost entirely as an instrumental, is phenomenal on it’s own given Danger Mouse’s subtle production, you can hear a crazy drum sequence faintly in the background that elevates the track and takes away nothing from the beauty of it. A truly flawless album, let’s hope they are remembered come Grammy time.
In Dan Black‘s debut album “UN“, you hear an extremely talented guy trying — and succeeding at producing his very own finely tuned Pop album with Hip Hop influences. And he does it all by himself. Without the benefit of having Timbaland or Kanye West producing tracks for him, he does a really impressive job of making songs that sound like they were produced by Timbaland or Kanye. This kid obviously has his ear to Pop radio, and every track (literally) is catchy enough to compete in that format easily. “U + Me” and “Alone” could potentially be big hits on the charts. If there’s one problem with this debut, it’s Black’s voice. It’s paper thin and at times a little whiny, a little more vocal control or even playing with different melodies, phrasing or just the attitude would have greatly benefited the album, especially some of the slower songs like the gorgeous “Cocoon” or “Life Slash Dreams”. However this is his debut album, and based on what he’s been able to accomplish here the future looks really good for him, and hopefully he grows leaps and bounds from here.