Damon Albarn – Everyday Robots

Damon Albarn - Photo Linda Brownlee

Damon Albarn – Photo Linda Brownlee

 

Everyday Robots Parlophone | CD DL LP

Damon Albarn takes a rare look inwards in his most reflective, traditional songwriting since the Blur era.

Damon-Albarn-Everyday-Robots-433

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FOR ONE OF ROCK’S MOST famous figures, and, with Noel and Liam, the classic face of ’90s Britpop, Damon Albarn still remains something of a puzzle. Such an extraordinary life, such a wealth of musical adventures, yet so many facets of the man have often felt veiled. His music, though stamped with his personality, has rarely dealt directly with the detail of his emotional life – though when he has diarised traumatic personal events, notably on Blur’s No Distance Left To Run, written in 1998 about the end of his relationship with Elastica’s Justine Frischmann, the results have possessed extraordinary power.

Albarn’s decision to retreat, post-Blur, from a life lived in the public gaze and to launch Gorillaz as a ‘cartoon group’ in 2001, behind which he could enjoy a protective semi-anonymity while still selling millions of records, has done little to bring the ‘real’ Damon any closer. Nor has his torrent of millennial side-adventures, exploring interesting musical avenues and fusions – the self-explanatory Mali Music (2002); The Good The Bad And The Queen album (2006); the soundtrack for the Chinese opera Monkey: Journey To The West (2011); the DRC-inspired Kinshasa One Two (2011); his Afro-beat/white funk jam Rocket Juice And The Moon(2012); the Dr Dee stage musical (2013); his Africa Express tour – but giving little of himself away.

Albarn, it seems, has been so busy investigating the world outside himself that he’s neglected – or maybe simply postponed – looking inwards. Until now, that is. But Everyday Robots is not quite what you’d expect, or even perhaps want, from a Damon solo record. It probably won’t tell you too much about him that you hadn’t guessed already. But it is rather good.

The cover of Everyday Robots shows the artist in desert boots and green mod parka, seated on a stool, head bowed, looking forlorn. It is, wittingly or not, the antithesis of Modern Life Is Rubbish’s cocky, faux-yob iconography. Its dour mood of reflective middle-aged melancholia isn’t something an initial foray into the album will dispel. The over-riding first impression is of quiet, tick-tock percussion, minimal thud-thud bass, tinkling piano, mournful strings and, high in the mix, Albarn’s wistful tenor unfolding another slow, hazy rumination on something yet to be fully understood by the listener. Only the joyful gospel lilt of Mr Tembo – a story about a baby elephant Albarn met in Africa – sticks out from the glassine mist. That, and last track Seven Seas Of Love, an unlikely ‘80s pop throwback that sounds a little like an acoustic Heaven 17 covering The Monkees’ Daydream Believer.

What’s abundantly clear is that Everyday Robots has no intention of coming to you; instead, its songs gently insist that you come to them. And patience and perseverance is bountifully rewarded.

 

 

 

 

Damon Albarn opens up about drug use

Damon Albarn

Damon Albarn

As Damon Albarn makes the rounds in support of his forthcoming solo debut, Everyday Robots, he’s speaking candidly about his past drug use.

In a new interview with Q magazine (via The Independent), Albarn said that he began using heroin “at the height of Britpop” and found it be “incredibly productive”.

“I hate talking about this because of my daughter, my family. But, for me, it was incredibly creative,” Albarn explained. “A combination of [heroin] and playing really simple, beautiful, repetitive shit in Africa changed me completely as a musician. I found a sense of rhythm. I somehow managed to break out of something with my voice.”

Albarn has been clean for several years and stressed that drugs are ”cruel, cruel thing.” He continued, “[Heroin] does turn you into a very isolated person and ultimately anything that you are truly dependent on is not good.”

Albarn also addresses his drug use on Everyday Robots, specifically in the song “You and Me”. Below, watch footage of him performing the song at this month’s BBC 6 Music Festival.

Damon Albarn unveils ‘Lonely Press Play’ video

Damon Albarn

Damon Albarn

Click above to watch the promo, which was shot by Albarn himself on a tablet in locations as varied as Tokyo, London, Dallas, Utah, Colchester, North Korea, Iceland and Devon. The song is taken from Albarn’s forthcoming solo debut, ‘Everyday Robots’, which is released on April 28.

Following an appearance at SXSW in Austin, Texas next month, Albarn will play with his backing band The Heavy Seas at two special shows in London, at the Rivoli Ballroom on April 30 and The Great Hall at QMUL on May 1. He will then headline Latitude Festival on July 19.

Damon Albarn collected the Award For Innovation at the NME Awards 2014 with Austin, Texas (February 26) and said that he would “love” to collaborate with Noel Gallagher in the future. Albarn and Gallagher were given the Music Moment Of The Year prize for performing together at a Teenage Cancer Trust show in May of last year. The Blur singer also later admitted that the band had written 15 new songs for a new album, but said they won’t see the light of day for years.

Albarn also was on hand at last night’s ceremony to present Beatles legend Paul McCartney with the Songwriter’s Songwriter Award, while other big winners included Blondie, who were the recipients of this year’s Godlike Genius title, and Arctic Monkeys, who took home five gongs.

Enjoy.

Setlist for Damon Albarn’s first solo performance, plus watch it in full

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On Friday night, Damon Albarn delivered his first live, public performance in support of his debut solo album Everyday Robots, appearing at BBC Radio 6 Music Festival in Manchester. Accomapnied by a full band, which he’s dubbed The Heavy Seas, Albarn performed six songs from Everyday Robots, as well as material from his various other projects.

Highlights included the live debut of Blur’s “All Your Life”, the world premiere of “The Selfish Giant”, “Mr. Tembo”, “Heavy Seas of Love”, which are set to appear on Everyday Robots, and performances of Gorillaz’s “On Melancholy Hill”, “Tomorrow Comes Today”, and “El Mañana”, and The Good, the Bad, and the Queen’s “Kingdom of Doom”.

Watch the full replay at BBC 6′s website. Below, you can watch his performance of set opener “Everyday Robots”.

Details of Damon Albarn’s long-awaited debut solo album have been revealed on Warner Music’s webstore. Entitled Everyday Robots, the 12-track effort will see release on April 29th. The album’s title track also serves as the lead single and is due out on March 3rd digitally and on 7-inch vinyl.

The album itself is available in a variety of configurations, including as an HD digital album and as a deluxe CD/DVD package featuring live performance footage from Fox studios in Los Angeles.

In an interview Rolling Stone late last year, Albarn described the album as a “sort of folk soul” that he made alongside longtime collaborator and XL Recordings head Richard Russell. “Richard does the rhythmic side, and I do everything else,” Albarn explained.

Update: According to Albarn’s Facebook page, the album also features Brian Eno and Bat For Lashes’ Natasha Khan are also featured on the album. It’s described as “his most soul-searching and autobiographical yet” and “explores nature versus technology.”

Below, you can preview a short snippet of “Everyday Robots” in a new trailer for the album. The album’s full tracklist and the single’s artwork follows.

Everyday Robots Tracklist:
01. Everyday Robots
02. Hostiles
03. Lonely Press Play
04. Mr Tembo
05. Parakeet
06.The Selfish Giant
07. You and Me
08. Hollow Ponds
09. Seven High
10. Photographs (You Are Taking Now)
11. The History Of A Cheating Heart
12. Heavy Seas Of Love

Everyday Robots DVD Tracklist:
01. Track x Track Video (Bundle Only)
02. Everyday Robots (live from Fox studios Los Angeles)
03. Hostiles (live from Fox studios Los Angeles)
04. Lonely Press Play (live from Fox studios Los Angeles)
05. Hollow Ponds (libe from Fox studios Los Angeles)

“Everyday Robots” single artwork:

Damon Albarn unveils ‘Lonely Press Play’ video

Damon Albarn has unveiled the video for his new song, ‘Lonely Press Play’.

Click above to watch the promo, which was shot by Albarn himself on a tablet in locations as varied as Tokyo, London, Dallas, Utah, Colchester, North Korea, Iceland and Devon. The song is taken from Albarn’s forthcoming solo debut, ‘Everyday Robots’, which is released on April 28.

Watch Johnny Marr and Jake Bugg duet at London Royal Albert Hall gig

Jake Bugg

Jake Bugg

Jake Bugg and Johnny Marr duetted at London’s Royal Albert Hall last week (February 21) – click below to watch.

Bugg invited the former Smiths guitarist to perform with him during his gig, with the pair performing a take on the Nottingham singer-songwriter’s track ‘Kingpin’ from his second album ‘Shangri La’. Bugg has recently been giving songwriting tips to teenagers at the Albert Hall in a series of seminars, which saw him teach 16 to 18 year old students how to play his song ‘Broken’.

The singer is nominated for Best Solo Artist at the NME Awards 2014 with Austin, Texas which happens this week on Wednesday (February 26). The ceremony, which will be streamed live for the first time in its history, is taking place at O2 Academy, Brixton and fans will be able to watch all of the action, including performances from Metronomy, Drenge and Godlike Genius recipients Blondie.

The NME Awards 2014 with Austin, Texas will be hosted by BBC Radio 1 presenter and NME columnist Huw Stephens. Paul McCartney will attend to collect the special, one-off honour of NME’s Songwriter’s Songwriter, while Damon Albarn will collect the brand new NME Award For Innovation.

Blondie have been named this year’s Godlike Genius, and the band will collect the award in person and perform at the show. In addition, Belle & Sebastian will receive the Teenage Cancer Trust Outstanding Contribution To Music Award and will also perform live.

Arctic Monkeys lead the nominations this year with eight in total, while Queens of The Stone Age, Lily Allen and Arcade Fire all have three. Voting has now closed.

Damon Albarn Solo LP ‘Everyday Robots’ Inspired by Elephants, Eno.

Damon Albarn Courtesy of Nasty Little Man

Damon Albarn
Courtesy of Nasty Little Man

Blur leader breaks down influences on haunting, personal 12-track album

“It was very cathartic,” Damon Albarn says of his solo album Everyday Robots, slated for release on April 29th. Away from his various bands, including Blur and Gorillaz, Albarn cut 12 tracks that explore a range of his influences, from early childhood to the pitfalls of modern technology. It’s a haunting, hypnotic collection of songs, floating through the ether of memory. Albarn called us from his London studio to talk about it.

Does it feel different doing a solo album?
It’s got my name on it and I wrote the songs, but Richard Russell [producer and head of XL Recordings] was a fantastic editor and did a lot of the atmospheric stuff, so in a sense it’s not entirely my record. It is my narrative, and my voice and my songs.

I started off giving Richard a lot of songs, 60 or 60-plus — he had the editorship. Hence a song like “Mr. Tembo,” which I never would have considered recording, because I put that in my “songs I write for other things,” like for kids’ birthdays, or in this case, it was for a baby elephant I met in a place called Mkomazi, in Tanzania. It was recently orphaned and walked onto this aerodrome; the people I know took it in and called it Mr. Tembo. I was there, and I met this little elephant, and he was very sweet. I sang it to him. It was recorded on a phone, and in a light-hearted moment, I put it on a list for Richard. He said, “I’d really like you to try that,” so I did.

Did the elephant seem appreciative?
To be honest to you, when I sang it to the elephant, it shat itself. Because it was on milk, it was white elephant baby poo, if you can imagine that. It’s quite something at close vicinity.

Who else appears on the album?
Natasha Khan of Bat for Lashes sings a ghostly echo of my voice on the song “Selfish Giant.” And Brian Eno sings a verse on the last song. He’s a neighbor: I used to go to a health club that he goes to as well, but he always did much more interesting things than I did. I’d be on a mind-numbing running machine, and he took water aerobics classes. He was very Eno about it.

Back in Leytonstone, there was a Pentecostal Church at the end of my road that belonged to the city mission. I remember standing outside with my bicycle listening to the singing, but never being able to find an entry point. But it was a very strong childhood memory that I’ve carried with me. I got in contact with that church, and they’ve still got a small choir, so they very kindly agreed to sing on the record a bit.

When you go back to one of your older songs, are you still the same guy?
I don’t know. Obviously, I’ve matured, because I’m a lot older. It’s funny. I was playing in Japan — what day is it now? — on Tuesday, I played at the Budokan with Blur. There’s one song called “To the End,” and it’s the end of that period, and it’s the last gig we were planning to do together for the foreseeable future. I was singing this song that I wrote 20-odd years ago, with a sense of my own situation at the time, but also a slightly cinematic third-person feel to it. Then, singing it on Tuesday night, it felt like I was singing about what was taking place that evening. I got quite carried away with the moment. I was standing there in front of God knows how many people, arms aloft in the moment of rapture. And typically, as soon as that happened, I forgot a verse. It’s a nice grounding experience: Never get too carried away with yourself.

What do you have planned for this year?
Well, I’m going to be promoting this record, I suppose, in one form or another. I don’t know how that will completely manifest itself, but I’m looking forward to that. Some more theater-based work, maybe a film score, something like that. I’ll be quite busy, anyway. I work from 10 in the morning to 5:30 or 6, five days a week. I don’t really think about it — I just get on with it. I do have holidays and weekends.