Latest News: Damon Albarn

Rock & Roll Beefs

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Courtney Love’s recent renewal of her spat with Dave Grohl reminds us that beefs in the music world aren’t just for rappers. Sure, there have been plenty of rap battles – from ones that end in a truce, like Nas and Jay Z (whose white flag to Nas was a record deal with Def Jam) to ones that end in the ground, like the classic Tupac vs. Biggie beef that divided the whole US by its east and west coasts. But when you mix any feuding celebrities with insults and egos, especially when it’s connected to public music careers, you’re bound to get some sparks. Courtney Love vs. Dave Grohl

After accusing former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl of “taking money from [her] child” during legal battles over her deceased husband Kurt Cobain’s band, Courtney Love most recently accused him of also trying to seduce said child. Now that 19-year-old Frances Bean Cobain is all grown up, it’s refreshing to see that she hasn’t inherited her mother’s mental instability. In response to Love’s tweet threatening to shoot Grohl dead (perhaps a bad choice of language, considering the “Courtney-Killed-Kurt” theories) based on the rumor she heard about Grohl hitting on Cobain, her daughter issued this statement: “While I'm generally silent on the affairs of my biological mother, her recent tirade has taken a gross turn. I have never been approached by Dave Grohl in more than a platonic way.” In a display of humility – and publicity – Love tweeted “Bean, sorry I believed the gossip. Mommy loves you.” Grohl, having responded to Love in the past by filing a motion to have her psychiatrically evaluated, decided to go the mature way once again – by having a representative deny all the claims. Winner: Dave Grohl, for keeping his cool when Courtney lost it (again and again) Wayne Coyne vs. Win Butler

In countless documentaries and stories, it seems the true monsters in musicians come out backstage at shows. The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne certainly got a strong (negative) impression from the few shows he’s done with Arcade Fire: “I get really tired of their pompousness …People treat Arcade Fire like they’re the greatest thing ever and they get away with it[…] They have good tunes, but they’re pricks, so fuck ‘em.” Win shot back with the excuse of jet lag and misconception, saying that while he also likes The Flaming Lips’ music, “I hope I was less of a 'prick' then telling Rollingstone [sic] that a bunch of people I don’t know at all are really assholes.” Oh, snap. Winner: You Win some, you Wayne some… Oasis Vs. Blur

The mid-'90s public quarrel between the two Britpop bands took an ugly turn when Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher told The Observer that he hoped Blur frontman Damon Albarn would “catch AIDS and die.” Even if Gallagher did think Albarn was “a f*cking knobber” and “a money-making, commercial pop-machine,” this death wish went a little too far – and was off mark of the guitarist’s usually more original insults, like saying Jack White looked “like Zorro on doughnuts” and that Kaiser Chiefs “play dress-up and sit on top of an apex of meaninglessness.” Though Albarn never did have any good rebuttals, he was the bigger man and recently invited Noel Gallagher to collaborate with him – the musician’s white flag. Winner: Noel Gallagher, by default – coming to a comedy club near you soon (hopefully.) Neil Young Vs. Lynyrd Skynyrd More of a fake feud than a real throw-down, Lynyrd Skynyrd responded to Neil Young’s dismal portrayal of southern folk in his songs “Southern Man” and “Alabama” with this famous line from “Sweet Home Alabama”: "I hope Neil Young will remember / A Southern man don't need him around anyhow." Though their lyrics would suggest otherwise, Young and Lynyrd Skynyrd admired each other’s music and even wore each other’s T-shirts to prove that the musical spat was just in the music for those who couldn’t read in between the ironic and humorous lines. It is even rumored that Skynyrd frontman Ronnie Van Zant was buried wearing a Neil Young T-shirt – though the truth is buried with him. Winner: Lynyrd Skynyrd – majority rules.

Be sure to check out: VSQ Master Series: Nirvana's Nevermind Available at iTunes and Amazon

The String Quartet Tribute to The Flaming Lips Available at iTunes and Amazon

The String Quartet Tribute to Arcade Fire's Funeral Available at iTunes and Amazon

The String Quartet Tribute to Oasis Available at iTunes and Amazon

Rusted Moon: The String Quartet Tribute to Neil Young Available at iTunes and Amazon

The String Quartet Tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd: This Sweet Home Available at iTunes and Amazon

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The Many Lives of Damon Albarn

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Damon Albarn is a true creative. He's not the type that seems to coast, he is not only driven by the need to create, but by the need to create new things. It's a drive that has led to gigs like an opera, movie soundtracks and a consideration to direct the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony. But it's never been just about his music output. The latest news out of Camp Albarn is that one of his supergroup projects, Rocket Juice and the Moon, featuring Flea and Tony Allen, are at long last releasing their debut album. For the sake of convenience and keeping it all together, this is a look at all that Albarn has wrought. Blur - At one point, Damon Albarn was just the Blur frontman, and that wasn't so bad. They were a central figure in '90s Britpop as they fought tooth and nail with Oasis over sales dominance. While Americans were getting grungey with Kurt Cobain, Albarn and Blur were creating an especially British sub-genre that didn't cross the ocean until “Song 2,” which some only remember as “woo hoo!” and a consistent presence in action movie trailers/commercials. Gorillaz - Not content to be part of one of the biggest figures in '90s British alternative rock, Albarn worked with cartoonist Jamie Hewlett on Gorillaz, a cartoon band vehicle for Albarn to explore pop and his other genre inclinations. It still stands to this day as his biggest thing ever, which is a tremendous feat coming off of Blur, and you have to wonder if he has an even bigger hit group concept in him. Mali Music - In 2000, Damon Albarn took a trip to Mali and came out with a new band because that's how his mind works. The aptly titled Mali Music is a collaboration with Malian musicians like Afel Bocoum. Anyone that expected something along the lines of world music or folk music was surprised by the electronic ambience and mesmeric style. The Good, The Bad & The Queen - Here's another supergroup that should be right up the alley of any Gorillaz enthusiast. Their music is interesting, eclectic, and often hits on a great beat. Although it features members of The Verve and The Clash, the production by Danger Mouse (another compulsive collaborator) is just as big a feature. Albarn insists that the band has no name, just an album name, but no one's buying into it and just calls them what it says on the sales charts. Rocket Juice and the Moon - The newest thing out of his imagination, Rocket Juice and the Moon haven't even put out an album yet. It's a purely groovy funk outlet that's also made up of Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea and Fela Kuti drummer Tony Allen. If that's not enough overkill, the album is supposed to have a guest spot by Erykah Badu. With that kind of pedigree, working in that genre, the expectations are high.

Listen to "Song 2" as performed by Vitamin String Quartet here.

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Five Things You Didn’t Know About Gorillaz

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Vitamin String Quartet Performs Gorillaz will be available in March. The album includes beautiful string versions of Gorillaz hits including “Clint Eastwood”, “Feel Good Inc.”, and “Stylo.”

Gorillaz is a four man band out of Britain, although that’s not completely accurate, as the band is actually made up of four cartoons. Gorillaz has been around for a decade, (which means we’re getting old), and is the brainchild of Blur’s Damon Albarn and cartoonist Jamie Hewlitt. Here are five things you may not have known about the best cartoon act since Jem and the Holograms.

1. The animated members of Gorillaz are named 2D (lead vocals and guitar), Murdoc Niccals (bass guitar), Noodle (guitar, keyboard and vocals) and Russel Hobbs (drums and percussion). The band’s website describes 2D as a 23 year old simpleminded sweetheart who idolizes Murdoc, who is said to be a 36 year old former drug addict. Noodle is an 11 year old martial arts expert who pals around with Russel Hoffs, a 25 year old New York City native and the band’s only “proper musician.” 2. The real life human component of the band consists of Damon Albert and a rotating lineup of musicians which has included Cibo Matto’s Miho Hatori, Tina Weymouth of the Talking Heads, Del the Funky Homosapien and Mick Jones and Paul Simonon of The Clash. The group’s 2010 performance at England’s Glastonbury Festival included appearances by Snoop Dogg and Lou Reed. 3. The band’s three studio albums, Gorillaz, Demon Days and Plastic Beach have sold over 23 million copies worldwide. Demon Days included contributions from Ike Turner, MF DOOM, Dennis Hopper and the London Community Gospel Choir. 4. The band has been nominated for seven Grammys and won the 2006 award for best pop collaboration with vocals for “Feel Good Inc.” They shared the award with David Jude Jolicoeur of De La Soul, who provided the single’s rap segment. 5. The band collaborated with Madonna at the Grammy Awards on a mash-up of their nominated single and the material girl’s “Hung Up.” This performance featured hologram versions of the band and Madonna. Plans were announced for a tour featuring these holograms, but were soon cancelled, as the technology was too expensive and too unpredictable. The Gorillaz – “Feel Good Inc.”

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Interpol, PJ Harvey Sign On for Haiti Benefit Auction

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After this month’s earthquake catastrophe in Haiti, celebrities having been going all “We Are the World” like crazy. And that’s not to make light of the disaster, nor to dismiss the outpouring of generosity from Hollywood; the world would probably benefit if those who were flush with good fortune and the power to sway the public used it for humanitarian causes more often. If we always saw this type of success when it came to celebrities getting the public to rally around a cause, well, we’d be so busy calling into telethons that we’d never actually see these celebrities’ movies or buy their albums. But this is beside the point, which is this: famous people have been kicking ass with this Haiti mess. And that definitely includes the music industry. The latest to kick in their support? Interpol and PJ Harvey, who donated a signed box set of their entire musical catalogue and a stage outfit, respectively, to auctions which will benefit earthquake-stricken Haiti. The auctions, which are hosted by eBay and benefit the OxFam's Haiti Emergency Respons Efforts, were set up last week by Glastonbury Festival co-organizer Emily Eavis. Among other donated items is an original song by Damon Albarn, a guitar signed by Dave Grohl, and if you feel like really kickin’ out the dough, a chance to have dance masters Groove Armada remix your song. All benefits going to Oxfam. Click here to view the OxFam benefit auctions.

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