Gorillaz

Also: 50 Foot Wave, and Six Feet Under, Vol. 2: Everything Ends.

GORILLAZ

Demon Days

(Virgin)

After letting their debut vanish from my consciousness for almost four years, it turns out I was wrong about Gorillaz in an important way. They're not so much an indie supergroup as a hyperactive Damon Albarn side project—Jamie Hewlett's art remains the only other consistent aesthetic signifier; and on Demon Days, they've greatly reduced their tendency to choke on their own whimsy. Del the Funky Homosapien, Miho Hatori, and Dan the Automator are absent this time around, replaced by a revolving cast of agitated indie rappers and the heightened daring of producer Danger Mouse. The Banana Splits choruses and chirpy synths are gone, replaced with a laconic, spliffed-out gloom. "Last Living Souls" ranks Scientist's vacuum-of-space laser attack above Augustus Pablo's cheery melodica in the dub pantheon and throws in a faux–Todd Rundgren bridge; the catchy downer "El Manana" makes like Kylie's "Come Into My World" gone melancholy; and the gun-craving kiddie chorus of Black Ark G-funk "Dirty Harry" sounds like children of the Damned (circa Strawberries) haunting the posttraumatic thoughts of desert-stranded soldier Booty Brown. Even the De La "choc-a-lit attack" of "Feel Good Inc." and Classic MF Doom Verse No. 815 ("Crank it on blast/Roll past front street/Blew the whole spot/Like some old ass with skunk meat") on "November Has Come" seem to ache; Albarn's vocal presence throughout provides a despondent dreariness that proves oddly soothing. Ignore mood breakers like the inappropriately giddy new-wave Shaun Ryder showcase "DARE" and Dennis Hopper's burnout Zen monotonologue "Fire Coming Out of a Monkey's Head," and you have a pretty good party-starting downer—and a decent explanation as to why all those cartoons on the cover have dead eyes. NATE PATRIN

50 FOOT WAVE

Golden Ocean

(Throwing Music)

Throwing Muses, the Rhode Island–based band singer-guitarist Kristin Hersh led throughout the late-'80s/early-'90s college-rock boom, revealed with scraping little guitar parts and a handy 6/8 swing the fits and starts of teenagedom, the way little things feel big once you're big enough to no longer feel little. If I owned a label and the Muses' masters and had more money than the legal team that represents Kings of Leon, I'd hire Fiona Apple to curate a best-of and call it Youth and Young Womanhood. 50 Foot Wave, the power trio Hersh formed in 2003 following a solo album and a late-breaking Muses record the same year, reveal with a big crusty guitar roar and a nasty 6/8 stomp the fits and starts of adulthood, the way little things still feel big because you've got little ones around to make them so. Call Golden Ocean a perfectly adequate lesson in mother-of-four rock: Hersh cackles like Margaret Hamilton in a denim jacket, applies SuperDistorto primer before covering everything with two coats of SuperDistorto, and washes no-good men right out of her hair, only to shove them into her eyes. Her kids probably roll theirs and can't believe their mom embarrasses them with this shit. Someday, karma will repay them. MIKAEL WOOD

VARIOUS ARTISTS

Six Feet Under, Vol. 2: Everything Ends

(Astralwerks)

The second Six Feet Under soundtrack album, whose release coincides with the HBO series' final season, is mostly packed with what Thom Yorke once called "lifestyle music," in reference to Coldplay. It's a useful term for music that's emotional, not cerebral . . . unlike, you know, Radiohead, whose OK Computer track "Lucky," season four's best music cue—it accompanied the ritual burning of unneeded stuff—is included hereon. Jem's catchy but bland "Amazing Life" is one of the album's four exclusive tracks; of the two written specifically for SFU, Interpol's "Direction" is a go-nowhere dud, while the Arcade Fire's "Cold Wind" is stunning—as good as anything on their debut album, Funeral. Singer Win Butler, his voice like worn leather, riffs nostalgically on Scott McKenzie's 1967 hippie ballad "San Francisco" ("If you're going to San Francisco/Lay some flowers on the gravestone"); then, two minutes in, the song explodes into a joyous sugar rush. More than anything else on the mix, this feels like a proper musical eulogy for the show. On the other hand, the inclusion of Coldplay's "A Rush of Blood to the Head" (take that, Thom!) feels lazy—and suspicious, since the band just released a new album. Death Cab for Cutie, described by Spin as "Coldplay for the warm-blooded," contribute "Transatlanticism," season four's worst cue (it inspired four characters to sing along, Magnolia-style—biiig mistake). Ultimately, though, it's "Breathe Me," a piano rumination by Australian soul-pop vocalist Sia (sample lyric: "Hurt myself again today/And the worst part is there's no one else to blame"), that best sums up the lifestyle series that is SFU. NEAL SCHINDLER

 
comments powered by Disqus