Tag Archives: blur

New Track: Blur – Go Out

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Lunar New Year’s celebrations don’t typically include a ‘90s Britpop band announcing a new album at a Chinese restaurant in London. But that’s exactly what happened on the first day of the holiday this year, with Blur revealing the title of their eighth studio album, The Magic Whip, and sharing the first song from it, “Go Out.” So gong hei fat choy to all the Britpop fans out there, I guess.

Hopes for new Blur album have been floating around since their reunion in 2009 and were further fueled by the release of a few new singles in the years since. Such hopes appeared to be confirmed with the news that the band recorded fifteen new songs during their 2013 Hong Kong tour, but singer Damon Albarn was quick to quash any overly optimistic thoughts by suggesting the sessions would end up as “one of those records that never comes out.” The members of the group seemed busy enough with other projects anyway, such as recording solo material, making cheese, and writing a musical based on Alice in Wonderland.

Few were expecting the surprise announcement of The Magic Whip, including possibly Blur themselves. But after polishing up the Hong Kong tracks, the first Blur album in twelve years was ready to go, with the recording location inspiring its cover and announcement location.

The first track to be revealed, “Go Out,” sounds in line with Blur’s later material. The noise of those post-Britpop albums is present here, though that’s not to say that there aren’t any hooks: the chorus, with its vocal hook, has already wriggled its way into my head. Meanwhile, Albarn’s contemptuous lyrics about “the greed go-getter con” show that he hasn’t grown too much more complacent with modern life since the ‘90s, when he sang about it was “rubbish.” On the whole, “Go Out” isn’t too wild of a departure for Blur, but that doesn’t mean we’ll be able to say that about the entire album. After all, Albarn has branched out quite a bit in his work with Gorillaz (and countless other projects), as has guitarist Graham Coxon with his own solo music. It’ll be interesting to see what other directions the band will take on The Magic Whip.

In keeping with the Hong Kong theme, the lyric video for “Go Out” features gratuitous Chinese and, for some reason, an ice cream recipe. You could maybe try making it yourself while you wait for The Magic Whip to come out on April 29th, and you can pre-order it in your format of choice here.

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LeAnn Nguyen

Album Anniversaries: 1994 Edition

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If the large number of Rolling Stone/NME/Mojo special anniversary editions on sale recently is any indicator, there’s been quite a few 20th anniversaries of album releases this year. It seems that 1994 was a pretty good year, musically. So, for those who may have missed them the first time around, let’s take a look at a few of those albums and see how they hold up. As Stephen Malkmus sings on “Gold Soundz,” let’s “go back, to those gold sounds…”

Pavement – Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
Pavement’s second album is arguably their most accessible one, and it did yield the band its highest-charting single, the infectious “Cut Your Hair.” It’s a mystery why weren’t other hits from the album—”Elevate Me Later” is a jam in a similar vein to “Cut Your Hair,” and the appropriately-named “Gold Soundz” is another fine piece of pop. There’s also “Unfair,” a (possibly sarcastic) ode to California that makes me want to cruise through the Golden State “with my credit card in the air,” as the song goes. Some moments on the album are a bit weirder (like the instrumental “5-4=Unity”, a tribute to jazz artist Dave Brubeck), and, as always, Stephen Malkmus’ lyrics are kind of out there (“Charge it like a puzzle/Hit me wearing muzzles”). But such strangeness only adds to the album’s charm. Long story short: if you’ve ever wanted a good introduction to the world of Pavement, or if you’re just looking for a good listen, Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain’s your album.

Weezer – Weezer
Weezer’s self-titled debut, also known as The Blue Album, is probably the most well-known album on this list. It’s gone triple platinum in the U.S., and even if that means nothing to you, it’s likely that you’ve heard “Buddy Holly” before. And, of course, Weezer are a pretty established act these days. Nonetheless, I’m including the album here anyway because there has to be someone out there who hasn’t listened to the entire thing. And to that someone, I say, you should. The singles, like the aforementioned “Buddy Holly” and the almost comically pathos-laden “Undone – The Sweater Song,” are all well and good, but the album tracks are certainly worth listen to as well. “Surf Wax America,” for example, is a ode to surfing that’s on par with “Buddy Holly” in pure euphoria, and the closing track, “Only In Dreams” is an eight-minute-long power pop epic, concluding with a soaring guitar solo. It’s a fine way to close a fine album.

Blur – Parklife
Though Blur didn’t catch on too well in the U.S. charts (aside from their ubiquitous single “Song 2”), their third album, Parklife, has gone quadruple platinum in the U.K. Perhaps this difference in popularity is due to the band’s overwhelming Britishness, of which the title track is a prime example, with its bewildering opening line of “
Confidence is a preference for the habitual voyeur of what is known as parklife.” Cultural gaps aside, Parklife is just a great pop album. Good songs to start with are the disco-inflected “Girls & Boys” (though its chorus can get a bit confusing to sing along to), the swooning “To the End” (which features Stereolab’s Lætitia Sadier singing in French), and the new-wavey “Trouble in the Message Centre” (no comments here… it’s just really catchy). The best track is arguably the gorgeous “This is a Low.“ It involves Damon Albarn singing about Britain’s shipping forecast, of all things (again with the Britishness), but it’s actually kind of moving. Blur would go on to reach Pavement levels of weirdness on their later albums, but in 1994, they were the kings of Britpop.

To end, I’ll leave you with this ‘90s alt-rock vocal hook supercut, which includes song clips from all three of these albums. It might make you feel kind of nostalgic, even if you don’t remember the ‘90s at all. It did for me, at least.

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LeAnn Nguyen