Friday, September 06, 2013

FDF Volume 4 Issue 318 - Blur 13

Album - 13

Artist - Blur

Key Players – Graham Coxon – guitar (electric and acoustic), vocals, banjo, saxophone and backing vocals.. Alex James – bass and backing vocals. Damon Albarn – lead vocals, piano, keyboards, acoustic guitar. Dave Rowntree – drums, percussion

Produced By – William Orbit + Blur

Release Date – March 15, 1999

Overview – This is the 6th studio album from London formed band “Blur”. This was their fourth consecutive release to go to #1 in the UK. The band had changed up some of their sound on this release going a bit more electronic as well as psychedelic. The band even broke from their long time producer to go with a more electronically based producer in William Orbit. The album is a loose concept album about life and much of it was inspired by Albarn's breakup with Justine Frischmann, the singer for Elastica.. The album just took its title from the number of tracks, and the cover art is a painting done by Coxon called “Apprentice”. The album would garner many positive reviews and end up on many year end best of lists.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) – This is a pretty long record, clocking in at 66 minutes. The thirteen tracks start with one of the singles released "Tender". A slow building guitar lead song that has hand claps and foot stomps, almost a campfire like feel. Albarn has a unique voice that can range from deep to falsetto in just a few bars. The band all joins in for a full chorus, but the music never pushes much out of the quiet guitar, bass and drum. “Bugman” is a stark contrast with Coxon right after it with the fuzzed out guitar and Albarn bit more aggressive vocally. Rowntree's drums are heavier but James' bass is still a bit buried for my liking. Coxon has some fun with the guitar layers and the psychedelic feel is even more accented with the heavy use of a theramin and the false ending that basically makes this a whole new song is a mind bender.   "Coffee and TV" fun uptempo, great bass work at start, mellow vocals, a longer guitar solo, still very good bass, most piano keys at end church organ closer.  “Swamp Song” has a choppy and slide guitar mesh up that turns in to a fun singalong and it all comes to a crashing end. “1992” fades up on drums, acoustic guitar, mellow builds with noise, swirling guitar, bass and piano. “B.L.U.R.E.M.I” - chopping guitar, sort of punk rock feel, smashing drums crazy vocals effect goes to a fake ending with calm piano and new age feel. “Battle” - keyboard loop build. Cool drum line sounds a bit like something you'd here off the Blade Runner soundtrack. Real crunchy guitar radiohead like in the layers and time change. “Mellow Song” lives up to its name with acoustic guitar, light keyboards and solo vocals for a bit, then everyone comes in. “Trailerpark” is a bit off tempo, layers of keyboards, quirky sounding then builds to almost a Joy Division like feel. “Caramel” is a hushed tune,slow to build, rolling drums builds to angelic cries and continues to grown in the same vein another false ending with an organ in the distance playing. “Trimm Trabb” has a very buzzy bass, wah wah guitar but shakes all that. Distorted vocals later..guitar takes over bass, but bass still is there.  “No Distance Left to Run” another radio single quiet, mellow, sort of plodding musically, but not terrible. The album wraps up with “Optigan 1” which sounds a bit like that music from the end of Tailerpark.

Where are they now? The band grew to be one of the biggest exports in music in the late 90's. By 2001 the band was looking in other directions. Coxon recorded solo while Albarn formed “Gorillaz”. They reformed in 2008 and have worked on some new material, but nothing has come from it yet. In 2013 they played a few live shows as well keeping the band on the radar, albeit a light blip.

FDF Overall Take – Love em or not, they craft a pretty solid record. Its no mistake this record charted and sold well for a while. The band did change directions on some fans around this time, but its a solid and rewarding listen. Worth your time.

“Find out More”, Follow em and Buy!

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At 7:37 AM, Anonymous Andrew Darwitan said...

This is a very underrated Blur album. I've always felt that this is among their best.


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