Gorillaz / Plastic Beach / Virgin
On Plastic Beach, Gorillaz invite all of their friends to a posh beach paradise where everything is groovy by day but at night there’s something sinister going on. On their latest effort, the same kinds of happy-go-lucky, smile-inducing beats Gorillaz made famous back verses from British rappers Bashy and Kano, and De La Soul on tracks including “White Flag” and “Superfast Jellyfish”. Alternatively, the group takes a sober look at the pleasure-filled artificial world they’ve created on “Pirate Jet” and “Some Kind of Nature,” which features Lou Reed – someone with a great deal of experience breaking down the artificial. On the thumping number “Glitter Freeze” the virtual group gets positively greasy alongside The Fall frontman Mark E. Smith.
Download: “On Melancholy Hill”, “Superfast Jellyfish”
Portugal. The Man / American Ghetto / Equal Vision
Less than a year after the release of the fuzzy and smoky creation that is The Satanic Satanist, Portugal. The Man have put forth American Ghetto, making it their fifth release in as many years. From unassuming low key verses, as on “60 Years,” burst forth wailing guitars and sing-along choruses, like The Yellow Submarine surfacing for shore leave. The group has a sixties mentality when it comes to rhythmic instrumentation and vocal harmonies, but they’re not afraid to mix up songs with some modern bells and whistles or some mind altering drum tracks.
Download: “The Dead Dog”, “The Pushers Party”
Jimi Hendrix / Valleys Of Neptune / Legacy
At this point, it doesn’t seem like there could possibly be much worth releasing by legendary axeman Jimi Hendrix that hasn’t yet seen the light of day. Valleys of Neptune collects a number of unreleased demos, and the previously unreleased title track, into a neat little package, but not an especially unique one. The unreleased track is a nice piece of Hendrix blues, but lacks the fury and passion of his most famous work. The included versions of “Fire” and “Stone Free” are a little more raw and sprawling than the classic rock standbys you’ve heard on the radio, but nothing owners of Are You Experienced? will get too excited about. The real gem is Hendrix’s instrumental take of “Sunshine of Your Love” – the true aforementioned fury and passion comes forward in a way still palpable 40 years hence.
Download: “Sunshine of Your Love”
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club / Beat The Devil’s Tattoo / Universal
They’ve tried time and time again to break the mainstream mold and captivate the masses with a sound that’s appealing. Though it seems they have given up, especially with the quiet release of Beat The Devil’s Tattoo, they’re still fighting, just this time with blues in one hand and garage rock in the other. On their sixth studio album, singer/guitarist Peter Hayes and co. draw up the depths of alternative rock that echoes pain and power with every twang and thud. They get dirty like The Dead Weather on “War Machine”, honest on “Sweet Feeling” and even indie rock groovy on “Mama Taught Me Better”. But like on the album’s opener with the same title, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club have found themselves in a blues alley that warms their soul and comforts their sound and are just waiting to see if anyone joins them in their celebration of rock and roll.
Download: “Beat The Devil’s Tattoo”, “War Machine”
Ludacris / Battle Of The Sexes / Universal
With the way the genre has grown over the past few years, one has to wonder if the hip hop Gods are angry at the artists defaming the culture that molded the type of music. Instead of dropping tracks and verses on beats that traumatize minds and smack people in the face, rappers are pushing electronic influences that T-Pain dreams of every night. Ludacris’ latest effort doesn’t stray far from what his peers are conforming too. Battle Of The Sexes plainly revolves around subjects related to the opposite sex, leaving listeners with an awful familiar taste in their mouth throughout the entire record. Tracks like “My Chick Bad” serve up the raw and creative trademark rhymes we’re used to hearing, but everything else makes the album a major disappointment, especially since its one released by a hip hop artist like Ludacris.
Download: “My Chick Bad”