Tag Archives: Super Furry Animals

Gorillaz – Plastic Beach

Gorillaz - Plastic BeachGorillazPlastic Beach (Virgin)

There is something strange going on in the alternative pop world. Everyone from the Flaming Lips to MGMT to Gorillaz are running away from the pop song construction and melody like they’re on fire. After two albums of club music you could actually listen to, Damon Albarn and Co. drink their own Cristal and come back with an album the leaves the listener with a pop-junk hangover, which I suppose is the point.

After a brief orchestral intro—yes, an orchestral intro—the Dogg Father welcomes one and all to the Plastic Beach. What the plastic beach is may be anyone’s guess and we’re betting Snoop Dogg didn’t bother to ask, lest he drop a blunt and ruin yet another pair of sneakers. “Yo man, your Jordan’s are FUCKED up!”

But I digress…much like this album.

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Danger Mouse-Sparklehorse-David Lynch Album Scrapped

Video: Dark Night Of The Soul

Despite the fact that you can stream the album in its entirety right now at NPR, it looks like Dark Night of the Soul, the collaboration between Danger Mouse, Sparklehorse, and David Lynch with vocals by James Mercer, Wayne Coyne, Gruff Rhys, Jason Lytle, Julian Casablancas, Frank Black, Iggy Pop, Nina Persson, Suzanne Vega, and Vic Chesnutt, is being scrapped due to a legal dispute with EMI.

Perhaps out of spite or maybe just acknowledging the fact that people who want to hear this music already know how to download it, Danger Mouse is releasing a blank CDR along with the 100-page book of David Lynch’s photos for $50.

This whole thing just seems preposterous. EMI couldn’t work out an arrangement to get this officially released? Or did Danger Mouse just forget to read the fine print on a contract? Either way, it’s a shame. The stream sounds really good: more Sparklehorse than Gnarls Barklay, if you know what I mean.

Dark Night of the Soul: web, wiki, rapidshare.

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Super Furry Animals – Inaugural Trams


MP3: Super Furry Animals – “Inaugural Trams” from Dark Days / Light Years, due April 14 (iTunes) and April 21 (vinyl) on Rough Trade.

Bloopie disco jam from everybody’s favorite psychedelic sheepshaggers. With lyrics like “We have reduced emissions by 75%,” the Super Furry Animals risk falling into recent Neil Young territory, but in this case it works. Maybe it’s the slick German vibe just hypnotizing us into a trance…

Apparently features a spoken word appearance from Franz Ferdinand‘s Nick McCarthy.

Super Furry Animals: web, MySpace, wiki.

Super Furry Animals – Phantom Power

Super Furry AnimalsPhantom Power (Beggars Group)

For anyone unfamiliar with Super Furry Animals, let me give you this tip before going into their latest album, Phantom Power. Don’t try to figure the band out; you’ll drive yourself crazy in the process. Anyone with a basic ear for music can pick out a few obvious reference points. The truth is that the beauty behind the Furries music is that unlike other bands that make the same claim, they truly don’t limit themselves to any one sound. The songs on last year’s Rings Around the World compromised sunny pop, trip-hop, 70’s soul, classic rock, prog, and more. Each had their own distinct universe where the most exciting part of every listen came with the passages that took you from one world to the next—when one song would break down unexpectedly and go off in an entirely different direction, leaving you sitting there wondering how a standard pop song turned into a maniacal robot repeatedly screaming the phrase, “receptacle for the respectable.”

What we have on Phantom Power is another attempt to conquer the music world by mastering all of its genres. The Super Furry Animals are back with yet another album of cheeky pop songs and brilliant cross genre-fication. Unfortunately, they have seemingly lost their knack for finding those special transition phrases that took the songs from one style to the next, leaving us instead with a mix of impressive albeit jumbled songs that seem like a compilation rather then a cohesive effort.

If you take each song by itself, you’re left with a very high success rate. But when you take this as one large piece of art with several pieces, you notice a small lack of continuity and quality alike. “The Piccolo Snare” drags a tired progression through two or three minutes before it starts to drag a tired drum loop for two or three more. “Out of Control” is another bad selection, an attempt at cheese-metal which is too funny to be considered serious and too poor to even be considered a joke. “Golden Retriever” isn’t entirely bad, although the song reeks of gimmick and unlike other SFA songs of the same ilk, doesn’t have the benefit of an inventive sound and/or super-catchy melody to make the 15-minute-of-fame-single sound seem intended. Without those three songs, we’d have an album hovering around 40-minutes with eleven killer tracks. The three aforementioned songs are spread out enough through the album so that they are less noticeable, but they still shouldn’t be included here.

If you still feel confident forging ahead with the rest of the album, you’ll be rewarded with your typical Super Furry affair—dramatic pop from all walks of life in a timbre that recalls the heyday of 60’s Britpop and psychadelia bands presented in an entirely modern fashion, with the use of all sorts of digital as well as analog instrumentation, not to mention Paul McCartney chewing on a vegetable. “Venus and Serena” hits you at first just as hard as Pavement’s “Cut Your Hair” might have done, and for the same reason—”Venus and Serena” is the most intended and blatant out-of-left-field stab at college radio success the Super Furry Animals have ever recorded. But at the same time, like Pavement’s 1992 breakthrough single, you’ll find yourself rooting for it to succeed because it’s the type of song you can’t get enough of. “The Undefeated” cuts from soul and reggae to country to Chicago-era 70’s rock all within four minutes. “Liberty Belle” and “Hello Sunshine” are of the same feel of Rings Around the World‘s title-track. “Sex, War, and Robots” even takes a stab at Sea Change-style Beck, and for a second the heartache makes you forget you’re only listening to the Super Furry Animals. “Father Father #1” and “Father Father #2” sound remarkably similar to the instrumental pieces that opened and closed Nick Drake’s landmark Bryter Layter—folk with acoustic guitars and full-blown orchestras. The songs here don’t lack charm whatsoever, balancing the line between genius and animated insanity better than anyone has managed to do in a while.

What we have here is an album that, if given the time of day, can make you smile. Once you experience breakthrough on the fact that it isn’t Rings Around the World and can appreciate the songs for what they are, you’ll find an album carefully thought out and quite fun to listen to. The world needs more bands as brave as the Super Furry Animals to bring music into a brand new world. I know I’ve signed up for the ride.

Be sure to check out the Phantom Power mini-site.

Super Furry Wednesday

Super Furry Animals with Four Tet

10/2/2002, Metro, Chicago

These days, we all have technology on the brain. Cell phones have become platforms to support a PDA, digital camera, and microwave oven. Game consoles like PS2 or Xbox have so completely interpreted the contours of realism, it can be difficult to discern the human athlete from his electronic doppelganger. And unlike just a few years ago, the laptop computer in everyday life – at the coffeeshop, in a park, running MP3s through a car stereo – is no longer an anomaly. Similarly, the technology required to sequence, mix, re-assemble, and broadcast electronic music is no longer relegated to the studio. Mobilized technology has afforded bedroom electronic geniuses everywhere the opportunity to connect with their audience in a live setting, without sacrificing any of the technical requirements needed to create their music. In short, they’re allowed to be rock stars.

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