G-Sides is a collection of b-sides (see what they did there?) from the self-titled Gorillaz debut album. There’s a Japanese variant cover for the album where Noodle is holding a Godzilla figurine, but the rest of us get a spooky skeleton. The first song, 19-2000 (Soulchild Remix) starts more energetic than the original and offers some advice: “keep a mild groove on,” great advice for any Gorillaz album. Groovy and mellow is the sound, far-out soundscapes set the stage for dance beats, raps, and 2D’s often peacefully placid delivery throughout G-Sides. Dracula is a perfect example of Damon Albarn slowing things down as 2D: playing with the idea of a vampire (the sample is from a Looney Tunes vampire), the lyrics “some of us will never sleep again – Dracula” have an added impact from 2D’s lethargic delivery, the music, the words, the singing all sound tired, stretched out. It’s easy to let yourself be washed away in the extended outro to Dracula, the island percussion implies sun and warmth, and with Rock the House (Radio Edit) next, it does a good job of reluctantly leading into the next song. I didn’t like the rap verses on the Sounder, the lines were basic and forgettable, the beat felt wasted here even though the chorus isn’t bad. The raps on Clint Eastwood (Phi Life Cypher Version) sound light years ahead by comparison and the music is out of this world. The effects play off the progression of the verses well and the guitar strum outro ensures a healthy amount of replay value. Ghost Train is weird, I simultaneously like and dislike this song, it’s easy enough to get into if I’m doing something, harder if I’m sitting still and really listening to it. Left Hand Suzuki Method starts with a bong rip and Noodle speaking in Japanese, “the most important thing is listening.” This one definitely throws a few things your way: the old school hip hop percussion and an old-timey sounding piano play under Long, Long Ago by English composer Thomas Haynes Bayly, it could’ve fooled me – I was thinking of fall and a Japanese pagoda. G-Sides closes with 12D3, “I’m 2D, won’t you buy me?” A guitar strumming and piano ground this song, it gives the effect of making the digital band sound human, but we mustn’t confuse Damon Albarn with 2D, these are two different and unique people. There’s just enough good music here that I can overlook the stuff I didn’t like, it’s far from the best by Gorillaz, but at least their b-sides are worth listening to, you can’t say that about just any band.
2001 / 25:54
Added to Playlist:
Dracula: High Times
Clint Eastwood (Phi Life Cypher Version): High Times