On Sale at All That Jazz for $15.98
Is it a gimmick, or is it a band?
I was introduced to Gorillaz in the pages of The New York Times. Their gimmick is so good that the article barely mentioned their music. In fact, I don't remember it mentioning their music at all.
I suppose it's a little like Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi, the Japanese cartoon band that started selling albums even though it doesn't really exist.
Gorillaz is a cartoon, but not the kind you watch on the kiddie networks. It's the kind you watch on stage.
On stage, Gorillaz performs behind a screen while a two-dimensional cartoon band performs for the audience.
The cartoon mask is a way to play music without being self-conscious.
The music that comes from the band behind the curtain is somewhere between hip-hop and the synthesizer music of the 1970s. It's good music for the post-clubbing generation -- the aging hipsters who still enjoy the beats but want more story and substance with their computer-generated ambiance.
My favorite track on "Demon Days" is "Every Planet We Reach Is Dead." It marches a sleepy funk and gospel-choir sound through an aluminum can.
Rated: Drawn well. Played well.
The John Butler Trio
"Sunrise Over Sea"
On sale at All That Jazz for $12.98
The album opens with a guitar fist coming out of the stereo and grabbing you by the collar. Playing a style of music that is half-reggae, half-Southern rock, John Butler may not be the best songwriter in the world, but he's a great guitar player.
"Sunrise Over Sea" is packaged in a tri-fold CD jacket designed to look like an old water-damaged record album -- the kind you find in your parents abandoned collection or in a dusty roadside antique store.
Once the first track lets go of your collar, you get to relax a little, and your mind gets to wander. Hailing from Australia, Butler sounds more local (think Boulder) with his dobro and drum-circle vibe.
This is a fresh face for the Ben Harper and Jack Johnson crowd.
Rated: He has dreadlocks after all.
"Face the Truth"
Available at All That Jazz for $15.98
There are a few of you out there whose ears are tuned to a different sound. There are those of you who need to chew your music.
Here's an album for you, my ravenous friends.
Stephen Malkmus found his way into my little music heart with the album "Stephen Malkmus and the Jiks: Pig Lib" and held his place there with this most recent album.
Let us bounce around the dance floor to this most unusual release.
Within minutes, Malkmus massages that part of your brain created by The Who's "Tommy" and then tunnels over to the long-forgotten part of yourself that was created by the likes of Les Claypool.
Even as you listen to a song as seemingly poppy and innocent as "Freeze the Saints," there is a ringing in your ears that comes from somewhere in the distant background, like a man drilling into your eardrum. Malkmus is your man if you like that kind of thing.
Rated: If you're cool, you'll like it.
-- Autumn Phillips