A 10 Album Introduction To Damon Albarn

A 10 Album Introduction To Damon Albarn

Ten of Damon Albarn's greatest albums in preparation for the return of the Gorillaz.
1206
views

With the impending revival of the Gorillaz, the genre-bending animated band helmed by Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett, fan communities online have been rumbling with excitement. The Gorillaz are just one of Damon Albarn’s multitude of musical projects, part of a career spanning all the way from the early 1990s to today, and innumerable genres and styles to boot.

With the sheer amount of music under his belt, it can seem daunting for a first-time listener to explore Damon’s discography. Keeping that in mind, and injecting my own personal preferences into the mix, here is a ten album introduction to the work of Damon Albarn.

10. Rocket Juice and the Moon – Rocket Juice and the Moon


2012's self-titled debut album by the supergroup Rocket Juice & the Moon is not a prime example of Damon Albarn as an individual musician. For that reason this album is far from the top of the list, however, it also works to its credit. Damon, who is often at the helm of musical projects decided to, for this album, blend in with the rest of the group and just contribute to the music. His work with Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Tony Allen blends West African funk with artsy psychedelia, inviting guest musicians from Africa to sing and rap over the instrumental soundscapes created by the core band. "Rocket Juice & the Moon" is a fabulous mixture of sounds and ideas that allow Damon Albarn to work as a part of the soundscape rather than the conductor.



9. The Magic Whip – blur


As the eighth and latest studio album by blur, the first of Damon's many successful bands, "The Magic Whip" works both as a return to form and a culmination of experiences for the band. Released in 2015 it is among the most recent works released by a group including Damon, and from a sonic perspective, this is extremely apparent. There are tinges of the 1990s, the heyday of Brit-Pop and popular art rock, blended with the expertise and musical knowledge of a band that has been operating since 1988. Just like many of Damon's works "The Magic Whip" creates a melancholic world with bright tinges of warmth and hope scattered throughout.



8. Journey to the West – Monkey


"Journey to the West" is likely the most unique album mentioned in this list. It is a soundtrack, composed by Damon, for the 2008 opera "Monkey: Journey to the West" based on the classic Chinese tale. Damon's work on this soundtrack is an extension of the Gorillaz, collaborating with artist Jamie Hewlett to produce a visual and sonic wonderland drenched in Chinese culture. It builds itself upon old Chinese styles and musical ideas yet pierce each song with tinges of electronica and Damon's trademark experimental style.



7. Everyday Robots – Damon Albarn


"Everyday Robots," Damon's debut solo album, is a summary. While just as enjoyable and interesting as the rest of his vast body of work, this particular album brings elements from all of his past experiences and turns them into a more personal sonic journey through his life. Art pop and trip hop, among other experimental genres, seed "Everyday Robots" with the atmosphere that Damon Albarn has surrounded himself with over the course of his career.



6. The Good, the Bad, & the Queen – The Good, the Bad, & the Queen


Another supergroup, "The Good, the Bad, & the Queen" did it first. In 2007, before "Rocket Juice and the Moon" was conceptualized, Damon Albarn teamed with Paul Simonon, Simon Tong, and Tony Allen to create a quintessentially British album. Based on the hectic and melancholic theme of life in modern London this supergroup, helmed by Damon's accented vocals and playfully English demeanour, "The Good, the Bad, & the Queen" is an enjoyable, easy listen filled with thoughtful imagery.



5. Plastic Beach – Gorillaz


The band closest to blur in both recognition and success out of Damon's entire career is without a doubt the virtual band Gorillaz. Conceptualised after seeing the amount of pollution and refuse to litter the sands of a local shoreline, "Plastic Beach" centres itself on a fictional apocalyptic island built out of the washed away wastes of humanity. This premise could easily lead to preachiness that, while well intentioned, can often break an album's effectiveness in conveying its music and ideas. Much to the credit of Damon, the rest of the band, and each of the guests that contributed, the message is deftly laced over the course of the album. With an airy and electronic aesthetic to the production value this is a wonderful introduction to the work.



4. Parklife – blur


1994's "Parklife" is among the most successful and popular albums ever recorded from both blur's catalogue and Damon's overall discography. It was the spike to the top in regards to their prominence in the UK music scene and helped to usher in the Cool Britannia movement, built upon the genre of Britpop that "Parklife" exemplifies so well. It is a playful satire, poking fun at modern British life while also exemplifying it. "Parklife" is a cornerstone album, bridging the gap between pop, rock, and cultural significance.



3. Modern Life is Rubbish – blur


Though (unfortunately) nowhere near as popular as "Parklife" blur's second album, "Modern Life is Rubbish" was the precursor for many of the ideas and sounds explored by its more successful sibling. A spunky attitude, fuelled by Graham Coxon's fuzzy guitarwork, pervades this album, giving it a bite as it jabs its finger into the heart of modern life and it's bizarre, often draining, qualities.



2. Demon Days – Gorillaz


"Demon Days" is, in all honesty, my absolute favourite album of all time. In my personal opinion, there is no greater example of artistic passion, collaboration, and curious exploration. It is apocalyptic dark pop at its finest, strangest, and most topical. A well-structured anti-war message exists beneath the surface, protesting the Iraq war among other explosions of violence and broken humanity while still delivering a solid musical experience, creating the framework for "Plastic Beach" and the more environmental angle he would use later on. Damon's expressions of a world turned into a wasteland of war, scarred by the scramble for resources and greed of modern society, is inherently dark. There is no way around the dark heart of the album, and the thick, organic production (in contrast to the breezy electronics of "Plastic Beach") that slithers through every song, but that never gets in the way of this milestone achievement in genre-bending experimentation.



1. 13 - blur


Although "Demon Days" is my personal favourite out of Damon Albarn's entire body of work, the top spot has to go to the 1999 work of experimental electronic psychedelia, "13." Often referred to as Damon's breakup album after a long-term relationship with Elastica's frontwoman Justine Frischmann, this album is soaked in the thoughtful meanderings and saddened experimentation that he is known for. Yet, even as fuelled by sadness and self-reflection as it may be, it manages to produce songs filled with hope and a loving, artistic disposition. It is among Damon's most personal works, and acts as the precursor to the rest of his career, building a framework of musical curiosity that would fuel all his future works. Without "13" there would be no "Demon Days" to explore.

Cover Image Credit: fanart.tv

Popular Right Now

A Playlist From The iPod Of A Middle Schooler In 2007

I will always love you, Akon.
90274
views

Something happened today that I never thought in a million years would happen. I opened up a drawer at my parents' house and I found my pink, 4th generation iPod Nano. I had not seen this thing since I graduated from the 8th grade, and the headphones have not left my ears since I pulled it out of that drawer. It's funny to me how music can take you back. You listen to a song and suddenly you're wearing a pair of gauchos, sitting on the bleachers in a gym somewhere, avoiding boys at all cost at your seventh grade dance. So if you were around in 2007 and feel like reminiscing, here is a playlist straight from the iPod of a middle schooler in 2007.

1. "Bad Day" — Daniel Powter

2. "Hips Don't Lie" — Shakira ft. Wyclef Jean

SEE ALSO: 23 Iconic Disney Channel Moments We Will Never Forget

3. "Unwritten" — Natasha Bedingfield

4. "Run It!" — Chris Brown

5. "Girlfriend" — Avril Lavigne

6. "Move Along" — All-American Rejects

7. "Fergalicious" — Fergie

8. "Every Time We Touch" — Cascada

9. "Ms. New Booty" — Bubba Sparxxx

10. "Chain Hang Low" — Jibbs

11. "Smack That" — Akon ft. Eminem

12. "Waiting on the World to Change" — John Mayer

13. "Stupid Girls" — Pink

14. "Irreplaceable" — Beyonce

15. "Umbrella" — Rihanna ft. Jay-Z

16. "Don't Matter" — Akon

17. "Party Like A Rockstar" — Shop Boyz

18. "This Is Why I'm Hot" — Mims

19. "Beautiful Girls" — Sean Kingston

20. "Bartender" — T-Pain

21. "Pop, Lock and Drop It" — Huey

22. "Wait For You" — Elliot Yamin

23. "Lips Of An Angel" — Hinder

24. "Face Down" — Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

25. "Chasing Cars" — Snow Patrol

26. "No One" — Alicia Keys

27. "Cyclone" — Baby Bash ft. T-Pain

28. "Crank That" — Soulja Boy

29. "Kiss Kiss" — Chris Brown

SEE ALSO: 20 Of The Best 2000's Tunes We Still Know Every Word To

30. "Lip Gloss" — Lil' Mama

Cover Image Credit: http://nd01.jxs.cz/368/634/c6501cc7f9_18850334_o2.jpg

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

16 'Golden Girls' Quotes That Are Still Golden In 2019

Blanche, Dorothy, Rose, and Sophia..four unique middle aged women from different backgrounds under one roof.

542
views

One of the greatest shows of all time (at least in my opinion) is Golden Girls. I was not born yet when it first aired in 1985, but thankfully it is on Hulu. Here are just some of the many quotes from the series's seven-year run.

1. Crying is for plain women. Pretty women go shopping. -Blanche Devereaux

2. Go to sleep sweetheart. Pray for brains. -Dorothy Zbornak

3. Dorothy, was Sophia naked just now, or does her dress really need ironing. -Rose Nylund

4. People waste their time pondering whether a glass if half empty of half full. Me, I just drink whatever's in the glass. -Sophia Petrillo

5. I've been having a giood time, and there wasn't even a man in the room. -Blanche Devereaux

6. As they say in St. Olaf, Helgenbargenflergenflurfennerfen. -Rose Nylund

7. Have I given you any indication that I care? -Sophia Petrillo

8. I'm as jumpy as a virgin in a prison rodeo. -Blanche Devereaux

9. Blanche, I could get herpes listening to this story -Dorothy Zbornak

10. I had a knack for coming up with the firmest, most appealing yams. -Rose Nylund

11. No, I will not have a nice day! -Dorothy Zbornak

12. Look, you didn't ask for my opinion, but I'm old, so I'm giving it anyway. -Sophia Petrillo

13. There is a fine line between having a good time and being a wanton slut. My toe has been on that line. Blanche Devereaux

14. You'll have to excuse my mother. She suffered a slight stroke a few years ago which rendered her totally annoying. -Dorothy Zbornak

15. Everybody likes me. -Rose Nylund

16. Silly rabbi. Tricks are for kids. -Sophia Petrillo

Related Content

Facebook Comments