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Gorillaz come down to earth at Wells Fargo Center

Gorillaz | photo by Isaiah Spicer for WXPN | iospicer.com

It has been fascinating to witness the evolution of Damon Albarn’s iconic “virtual band” Gorillaz over the better part of two decades, musically, lyrically, conceptually. What began as a commentary on the lack of substance on MTV—I can only imagine what Albarn thinks now—has expanded to explore issues personal, political, and environmental, using both the conceit of a cartoon musical act and the shape-shifting textures of hip-hop and electronic music to lend such heady subjects a deceptively danceable accessibility. This evolution also informs the project’s live translation, which on paper could conceivably present a challenge. And this is all before considering recent release The Now Now’s relative simplicity compared to its predecessors’ complexity and ambition. On Albarn’s visit to the Wells Fargo Center earlier this week, he did his best to not only reconcile the newer Now material with the rest of his repertoire, but his animated avatars with the living breathing people behind them. Continue reading →

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The Week Ahead: Swearin’, Death Cab For Cutie, Gorillaz, Florence and the Machine, and more

Florence and the Machine | photo by Vincent Haycock | courtesy of the artist

This week, our concert agenda includes indie rock institutions as well as left-of-center art popsters, arena shows to DIY shows, rock and roll and folk and Afrobeat and everything in between. Here are 19 concerts you can see in and around Philadelphia over the next seven days. Continue reading →

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Now Hear This: New songs from Andy Jenkins, Gang Gang Dance, Gorillaz, Arp, LUMP, Wilder Maker, and more

Orquesta Akokán | via orquestaakokan.bandcamp.com

Every month, noted song expert K. Ross Hoffman presents Now Hear This, a sampling of fresh specimens for your consideration.

Aw yeah, summer. The entropy, the lethargy, the visceral extremes.  Now, summer makes all sorts of things weird anyway, but I feel like summertime in music-land has gotten especially wonky in recent years. Basically, my take is that the focus on large-scale music festivals which has ballooned over the past decade or so has taken a palpable bite out of non-festival-centric touring itineraries, and thus summer concert calendars, and even, indirectly, album release schedules. (Aside from the overwhelming hype cavalcade of Drake, Jay-Zeyonce and Kanye and Co. all dropping within a matter of weeks, the last few weeks have felt a bit thin for noteworthy new releases, and the rest of July and August, peering ahead, are looking even sparser.) Maybe I’d be less sore about all this if I felt closer to the target audience for either Firefly or Made in America, but as it stands those festivals’ biggest impact on me, personally, has been (presumably) shutting Philly out of proper local headline dates for the makers of some of my favorite music of the year: Janelle Monáe, for instance, and Amen Dunes.

Still, there’s plenty that’s worth seeing, concert-wise, in the coming weeks – it just feels like (even) more of an unpredictable hodge-podge than usual. Some of it is coming in the form of smaller, locally-targeted festivals: there’s XPN’s own XPoNential Festival, of course, and the decidedly weirder and more DIY All Mutable Summer Jam which is running the same weekend (July 27th-28th); I’m also pretty hyped about the free, Latin Roots-affiliated Nuevofest which is coming up this Sunday (read on for more about that.)

Anyhow, this being summertime, what do you say we all take a trip? Just a little musical vacation around the globe and beyond, to points both familiar and strange; real, imaginary and somewhere in between. I can’t say that it will all be straightforward or entirely uncomplicated – what is nowadays, after all – but I do promise we’ll have some fun along the way. And it’ll feel oh so nice to arrive back home at the end.

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Gorillaz release new song “Sorcererz”, debut new material live in Germany

Gorillaz | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman for WXPN

Gorillaz have released a new song, titled “Sorcererz”, from their upcoming album, The Now Now. A downtempo electronic groove featuring an unaccompanied Damon Albarn on lead vocals, “Sorcererz” falls somewhere between G-Funk and Tame Impala and highlights Gorillaz at their most laid-back. The band debuted the song live at Germany’s Rock am Ring festival along with three other tracks from The Now Now, “Tranz,” “Magic City,” and “Souk Eye”. You can watch video of each below. Continue reading →

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Listen to two new Gorillaz songs, “Humility” and “Lake Zurich,” see them at Wells Fargo Center in October

Gorillaz | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman for WXPN

Good news in the Gorillaz-verse! Earlier this week, Gorillaz announced new album The Now Now, the quick follow up to 2017’s Humanz. Today, the virtual band released two new tracks off their 6th studio LP, groovy bop “Lake Zurich” and album opener “Humility,” which features George Benson on guitar and vocals. Along with the two new tracks, the band provided more details on their upcoming album, which is set to release on June 29th. View the full tracklist and album artwork below. Continue reading →

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Little Simz teams up with Gorillaz for electric new single “Garage Palace”

Gorillaz | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman for WXPN

Soon after coming off a major North American tour, Gorillaz and Little Simz have blessed us with a new single, the day before they embark on another sold-out tour, this time in Europe. Simz and Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn have shown that they love working together, and “Garage Palace” is yet another example of their highly beneficial relationship. Continue reading →

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Watch Palm go Gorillaz in their new “Shadow Expert” Music Video

Palm | Photo courtesy of the artist

In June, Philadelphia’s Palm released a new EP Shadow Experts to follow their debut full-length Trading Basics, proving that they are still thinking outside the box (like, way outside the box).

The experimental indie pop group turns away from all mainstream convention in the creation of their sound, and with today’s release of the music video for Shadow Experts‘ title track it appears that their visuals don’t fall too far from the song-tree (sorry). Continue reading →

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Gorillaz partied in the rain on Festival Pier with Vince Staples, Kilo Kish and more

Gorillaz | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman for WXPN

Damon Albarn brought his ongoing multimedia pop music extravaganza Gorillaz to a soggy and somewhat salty Festival Pier last night, and if the test of a live act’s worth is its ability to transform crummy situations, Albarn and crew handily passed.

The gig got underway about a half hour behind schedule due to thunder and lightning hovering in the skies overhead; early arrivers at Festival Pier had to be evacuated from the site, and the crowd of thousands lined Delaware Avenue for a solid mile north to south, waiting to get back in.

Many fans were still making their way through when dynamic Long Beach rapper Vince Staples played his opening set; hot takes on the situation were all over social media. Thankfully, Staples turned up at a couple intervals during Gorillaz’s headlining performance, spitting bars on “Ascension” from this year’s Humanz, as well as a particularly tight verse on “Clint Eastwood” from the band’s 2001 self-titled debut. Continue reading →

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Listen to Gorillaz get its groove on with the non-album track “Sleeping Powder”

Gorillaz | photo via facebook.com/gorillaz

Less than two months after releasing their expansive fourth album Humanz, the virtual pop band Gorillaz is already back with new material for your viewing pleasure. “Sleeping Powder” by 2-D (the animated lead vocalist) begins with a somber baroque intro on the keyboard before expanding into Gorillaz’s signature trippy dance pop sound. “Sleeping Powder” and about 40 other tracks didn’t make the cut onto Humanz (which was already bursting at a 25-track deluxe version), but the single has a notably different groove than the majority of tracks that did and as such stands out on its own. Continue reading →