Image credit: Ella-Mae Earnshaw
NEWS ROUNDUP 1) Kylie Minogue is the first female artist to top the UK album chart in 5 consecutive decades Minogue’s new album ‘Disco’, released on 6 November, rocketed to number one on the Official Charts. She is the first female artist to secure the position over 5 decades since the 80’s.
2) DCMS Committee launch inquiry into the future of music festivals The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee have launched an inquiry to discover how to support music festivals. The cancellations as a result of the pandemic have cut their revenues by 90% this year. Questions about social distancing, mass testing and the profitability of the events will be raised. 3) Barry Jenkins releases a remix of Wilco‘s ‘Yankee Hotel Foxtrot’
‘Moonlight’ director Barry Jenkins, in collaboration with The Chopstars, shared their remix of the 2001 album ‘Yankee Hotel Foxtrot’. Jenkins has previously reworked ‘Painted Ruins’ by Grizzly Bear and the score of Moonlight, among other albums.
Image credit: Nasty Little Man
IN DEPTH - GORILLAZ - SONG MACHINE, SEASON 1: STRANGE TIMEZ
We can’t talk about what's currently going on in music without mentioning the release of Gorillaz’s new album Song Machine, Season 1 on 23rd October. The word “album” might not be an adequate way to describe their new release, as it is actually more of an elaborate audio-visual project rather than just a regular album. What Damon Albarn (the musician and co-founder of Gorillaz) has been working on is the creation of a sort of musical web-series: each episode consists of a song, which comes with its own music video. There are also shorter tracks called “Machine Bitez", which are essentially conversations between the fictional band-members of Gorillaz and the featured artists in the songs. These episodes come out monthly, the first one being Momentary Bliss, released on 30 January 2020, and the latest one being Episode 8 or The Valley of the Pagans which came out on 5 November. Three more episodes are yet to be released to complete Season 1.
In this seventh album, Albarn continues to experiment with various genres of music; his influences range from synth-pop to hip hop, with hints of reggae and punk rock. Jamie Hewlett (the other co-founder of Gorillaz) has described their music as being educative, as it is influenced by sources so varied that, when listening to their music, people also experience and learn about all of the musical genres and geniuses that have made Gorillaz’s music what it is today. In general, Gorillaz managed to gather an incredible number of musicians, all very different stylistically, to collaborate with them on this album and therefore to be guests in the series, including Elton John, 6LACK, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra. This extensive variety results in a chaotic but refreshing music experience.
Image credit: Artistas gráficos de Gorillaz
For those who don’t know, Damon Albarn and comic-designer Jamie Hewlett initially co-created Gorillaz to be a virtual band in which the four band members are animated characters. We were already able to follow the adventures of Stuart “2D” Pot, Noodle, Murdoc and Russel throughout the various music videos and cartoons previously produced by Gorillaz, but Song Machine is the first time there is an actual series about their fictional lives. The music videos of Strange Timez are a combination of real life footage and animation, as per Gorillaz’s usual style. All of the music videos for Season 1 were supposed to be actual footage of recording sessions for the album at Kong Studios, Gorillaz’s music studio in London, onto which the animated characters were added. Unfortunately, the lockdown in March 2020 made it impossible for the band to record footage in the studio, and Gorillaz had to improvise music videos only including the virtual band members and footage from other locations. This is how the fictional characters end up teleporting from Kong Studios to settings such as Morocco, outer space, or even the video game Grand Theft Auto V.
Once again, Gorillaz has surprised the music world with the unexpected nature of their album, perpetuating their legacy as a band that is continuously innovating and that embodies the future of music.
ARTIST OF THE WEEK - HAUSKEY
In a week which has seen the real prospect of a vaccine against Covid-19 and the defeat of Donald Trump, we all have a sense that life in 2020 might be about to get better. And the perfect music to help us surf this new wave of optimism? It has to be songwriter/producer Hauskey’s Aussie slacker-pop. The day-dreamy, psychedelic feel to his Slow EP, to be released on 19 November, offers us a sunny escape during the remaining dark days of this year.
It is easy to drift along with the gentle melodies written by Hauskey (AKA Andy Hopkins) who studied at the prestigious Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, before starting his own music school, complete with 500 pupils.
Despite its success, Hauskey felt his career in music was not heading the way he wanted it to and his base in Perth felt isolated. So he headed to London and played as many gigs as he could. On his return to Australia, Hauskey bought the cheapest Toyota van he could find on Gumtree and headed out of the city to a small rural farm where he set to writing music. The lo fi feel to his songs gives them an intimate quality, with lyrics that make you smile.
“It was tough to decide what songs to put on this EP,” explains Hauskey ‘but the six here felt like they capture the diversity of my song-writing, and what I want to say right now. From my bedroom studio, to your ears, I hope you love these songs as much as I do.”
Image credit: Chuff Media
NEW RELEASES - Australia (Hauskey inspired)
R U 4 Me? - Middle Kids
One of One - Starley
Just Talking - Polish Club
Dance - Julia Stone
GLORY - Kwame
Playlist by Emma Short
Written and edited by Fleur Colson, Anoushka Chakrapani and Emma Short