In House #1795: Debut From The Good, The Bad, & The Queen; New Youth Group
Probably best known as the frontman of Blur, Damon Albarn has nevertheless maintained a busy and diverse schedule of side acts, many of them coming off sounding decidedly better than mere musical diversions. Forays into spaced-out hip hop with Gorillaz (alongside Miho Hatori, Dan the Automator, De La Soul, and Danger Mouse, among others), and Afro-World Beat with Mali Music (featuring names like Toumani Diabate, Afel Bocoum, and Lobi Traore), have not only served to showcase Albarn's eclectic musical palette, but also revealed him to be a master collaborator (disagreements with his regular band aside).
As Blur continues to sit on the shelf, Albarn's latest is The Good, The Bad, & The Queen, a project that finds him joined by former Clash bassist Paul Simonon, Verve guitarist Simon Tong, and drummer Tony Allen, who has played with Fela Kuti's band, among others. Those names and backgrounds alone put a lot of sonic possibilitites on the table, and The Good, The Bad, & The Queen doesn't disappoint with its subdued, occasionally bleak sounding blend of pop, rock, dub, and world rhythms. Each of the musicians here brings a characteristic component to these brand new surroundings, notably Albarn's vocals and roughed up organ, Simonon' s shades of dub-leaning Clash, and Allen's subdued afrobeats. Unmistakeable is the bleak global-political theme of the album, with war and armageddon popping up in more than a few places in songs with telling titles like "Kingdom of Doom," and "Soldier's Tale." While the almost brooding detachment throughout is something of a surprise given the personnel (including Danger Mouse producing), the less is more approach ultimately works; The Good, The Bad, & The Queen is a relistenable mood piece heard best as a whole. The collaboration/band is scheduled to play this year's Coachella Festival on April 28th.
Albarn, Simonon, Tong, Allen
In House #1795.
Focus: Debut release from The Good, The Bad, & The Queen, plus new music from The Earlies, Apostle of Hustle, Youth Group, Beirut, and more.
BONUS MP3s from today's show-
The Decemberists, from the iTunes exclusive Live From SoHo EP:
Youth Group, from Casino Twilight Dogs (due tomorrow):
Forro In the Dark (with David Byrne), from Bonfires of Sao Jao:
In House PODCAST #247