Demon Days

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Demon Days
Gorillaz Demon Days.PNG
Studio album by Gorillaz
Released 11 May 2005 (Japan)
23 May 2005 (United Kingdom)
Studio Studio 13, London, England
Length 50:40
Label Parlophone
Producer Gorillaz, Danger Mouse, Jason Cox, James Dring
Gorillaz album chronology
Laika Come Home
(2002)
Demon Days
(2005)
D-Sides
(2007)
Damon Albarn chronology
Democrazy
(2003)
Demon Days
(2005)
The Good, the Bad & the Queen
(2007)
Singles from Demon Days
  1. "Feel Good Inc."
    Released: 9 May 2005
  2. "DARE"
    Released: 29 August 2005
  3. "Dirty Harry"
    Released: 21 November 2005
  4. "El Mañana/Kids with Guns"
    Released: 10 April 2006

Demon Days is the second studio album by British rock virtual band Gorillaz, released in May 2005. The album features contributions from De La Soul, Neneh Cherry, Martina Topley-Bird, Roots Manuva, MF DOOM, Ike Turner, Bootie Brown of the Pharcyde, Shaun Ryder, Dennis Hopper, the London Community Gospel Choir, and the Children's Choir of San Fernandez. Albarn brought in Danger Mouse as producer.

Demon Days entered the UK charts at #1 and the U.S. charts at #6,[1][2] outperforming the band's 2001 debut, Gorillaz. The album has sold six million copies worldwide.[3] The album features the singles "Feel Good Inc.", "DARE", "Dirty Harry" and "Kids with Guns"/"El Mañana" Much like 2001's Gorillaz, the release of Demon Days and its respective tour were accompanied by various multimedia. These included interactive features on the Gorillaz website, a total of four animated music videos, virtual interview sessions with the band and animatics for each song. Almost all of the visuals associated with the album were designed by Gorillaz co-creator Jamie Hewlett as his design company, Zombie Flesh Eaters. Complex include it on their list of 100 best albums of the complex decade placing it at 43.[4] Nme placed it 98th on their list of 100 greatest albums of the decade.[5] Uncut ranked it at 75 on their list of top 150 albums of the decade.[6] Glide listed it at 46 on their list of top 50 albums of the 2000`s.[7] Spin include it in their list "The 300 best albums of the past 30 years (1985-2014)".[8]

Background[edit]

While Jamie Hewlett was working with his team on a script for a possible Gorillaz movie, Damon Albarn was still recording Think Tank with Blur. By the time Albarn was ready to start writing and recording material for the Gorillaz movie, the whole idea had already been scrapped, although ideas from the movie's script were still used, including the themes of being driven by ego and the world being trapped in an endless night. Despite this, the album's main source of inspiration actually came about as a result of Albarn's train journey from Beijing to Mongolia where he, his partner and six-year-old daughter spent a day travelling through what Albarn describes as a "weird, unspoken, forgotten part of China. It was basically dead trees as far as the eye can see," Albarn recalls. "Dust bowls, loose earth rapidly turning into desert. There are little satellite towns in the middle of these semi deserts that are absolutely on their knees. And it's the size of Europe this area. And then you wake up in the morning with this nightmare in your head and it's blue sky and beautiful sand, which looks fantastic now but was probably something else millions of years ago. And that will happen to us in our lifetime."[9][10]

Hewlett was excited by the prospect of a second Gorillaz album, saying, "Let's repeat the same process, but do it better. Because everyone thought it was a gimmick. If you do it again, it's no longer a gimmick, and if it works then we've proved a point. And instantly, all of us got excited".[10]

Recording[edit]

"I learned so much working on the record with Damon", claimed Danger Mouse. "...and it was sink or swim. You just pick it up. At the end of the day, the people you're working with – whether it's the choir or string section or guitarist – are specialized in what they do. All you have to do is figure out the best thing they're doing and how it's going to fit within the context of the whole project. That goes back to putting together a song on a computer-based program. You're looking for all the parts that are going to make something sound right. It's also being able to communicate. I had done stuff before Gorillaz – like the Pelican City stuff – where I worked with musicians, so it wasn't completely foreign to me."[11]

"Gorillaz make dark pop; that's what they always set out to achieve," Albarn said in an interview with MTV News. "The whole album kind of tells the story of the night — staying up during the night — but it's also an allegory. It's what we're living in basically, the world in a state of night." The most obvious difference on the band's sophomore offering is the absence of Dan "The Automator" Nakamura as the acting musical producer. Instead, Albarn reached out to Danger Mouse based on the strength of The Grey Album, which brought Danger Mouse to prominence for mixing the Beatles' The White Album and JAY-Z's The Black Album. "Dan [The Automator] wasn't busy, the project just needed a slightly different approach," Albarn explained. "Danger Mouse, in my opinion, is one of the best young producers in the world. I think the last record was a lot more simplistic. It was virgin territory — animated hip-hop, reggae, stroke-rock, Latin rock — there's a lot more intricacy with this record." For Danger Mouse, a longtime Blur (Albarn's other band) fan, the feelings of admiration and respect were mutual. "It was a no-brainer when there was interest there from Damon," Burton said. "I heard demos of the new record, but the biggest part was getting the chance to be a part of something that's so strong — you just gotta jump on it. I had a very up-and-down year [in 2004], but it was definitely a big up when I got a chance to [work with Gorillaz]."[12]

As on Gorillaz there are plenty of guest collaborators including: rappers De La Soul, Booty Brown from the Pharcyde, and DOOM along with Ike Turner on keyboards, the singer Shaun Ryder from Happy Mondays and the actor and director Dennis Hopper, who narrates a parable (Fire Coming Out of the Monkey's Head) about innocence, greed and retribution set to a droll reggae bounce. That song leads into a stretch of ethereal vocal harmonies in a clear homage to The Beach Boys. Albarn said he couldn't make the vocal parts sound right until he had a minor revelation. "If you've ever seen the Beach Boys in footage, they're all smiling, desperately keeping the upbeat Beach Boy thing alive, while Brian Wilson is just absolutely glum as hell. So I did three harmonies smiling with my face. And then one just being really miserable, which was Brian. Now it's got that vibe."[13]

"Kids With Guns", was inspired by a boy in Albarn's daughter's class who turned up to school with a knife. "A nice boy," said Albarn, "just decided to pick up a knife and show it to his friends at lunchtime. It's a very real problem, but I'm not treating it as a problem. It's part of the brutalisation of a generation that's going on at the moment." "Fire Coming Out Of The Monkey's Head", meanwhile, is a parable read by Dennis Hopper that seems to have clear parallels with the war for oil.

Regarding the song "DARE" and the collaboration with Shaun Ryder, Albarn also said: "I love Shaun Ryder. During the whole Oasis thing, he and Bernard Sumner were the only two who cared about what I was going through. Being constantly taken the piss out of by Noel & Liam (Gallagher). How can you fight when you've got the tabloids and a working class attitude on your back? You're fucked. But Shaun was really sweet to me and made me feel a whole lot better about it. Because I did get quite upset about it, so was selecting Shaun karma in action, then? Yeah, definitely". The song's title is purported to have come about due to Ryder's thick Mancunian accent he was unable to say the phrase "It's There", which was the song's original title, so it was change simply to "DARE".[14][15] Roses Gabor takes over the role of "Noodle" from Miho Hatori, who provided the vocals for her on the first album. Albarn provides backing vocals; however, to blend his vocals with Gabor's, his voice was toned down to be slightly covered up. Albarn's full vocalization can be heard on the D-Sides remix album. D-Sides features a demo version of DARE entitled "People". This version contains the same background beat while lacking the majority of the keyboards and effects in the final recording. Unlike the final version, it is completely sung by Damon Albarn and features an Omnichord breakdown.

Rapper Roots Manuva and Martina Topley-Bird appear on the track "All Alone" (The instrumental of which was partially recorded in Africa) and also recorded another track entitled "Snakes and Ladders". The track does not appear on the album or D-Sides, however, the track was sampled by Topley-Bird for her song "Soldier Boy", which appears as a B-Side for her song "Poison" which features Roots Manuva and features a production credit for Gorillaz. The track can be heard partially on the Gorillaz documentary-film Bananaz.[16]

Musical style and themes[edit]

The band's most successful single, Feel Good Inc. talks about depression, loneliness and escapism.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

Sputnik Music wrote that the album's style "is a strong foray into the melding of hip-hop into pop and rock music."[17] Albarn has said that the album is meant to be a depiction of a journey through the night in which each track represents a confrontation with a personal 'demon'.

The album also has many lyrical themes centred on the destruction humans are causing worldwide; speaking about the track "Fire Coming out of the Monkey's Head", Albarn explained, "That came from a very naive idea, which is: what is going to happen when they've taken all of the oil out of the earth? Aren't there going to be these vast holes? Surely those holes shouldn't be empty. Surely there is a reason why they had all of this in. It's like bad plastic surgery, eventually it collapses."[9]

Mike Schiller of PopMatters wrote that Demon Days "[provides] its listeners not with a story arc, but a “music arc” [which] starts off slow, and honestly, not all that strange", describing the first few tracks as "[sounding] a bit like the Casioed version of a mid-‘90s trip-hop album."[18] The album's opener, "Intro" contains a sample from "Dark Earth", from the soundtrack to the 1978 film Dawn of the Dead. Schiller described "Last Living Souls" as "McCartney-esque piano pop"[18]

Gorillaz collaborated with Roots Manuva and Martina Topley-Bird on the track "All Alone" which includes some instrumental parts recorded in Africa.

Release and marketing[edit]

Demon Days was first mentioned in articles detailing the reopening of Gorillaz' website in early December 2004. Initially, a March or April 2005 release date was announced, but this date was later pushed back. In an article for Q magazine in February 2005 it was reported that the album was to be titled We Are Happy Landfill. Another early title was reported to be Reject False Icons, which is also the title of Gorillaz' culture jamming project. In January 2005 a promo for the song "Dirty Harry" was released as a white label 12", and an exclusive video was released online entitled "Rock It". It was later reported that the track would not appear on the album, although it later appeared on D-Sides, a collection of remixes, rare songs and B-sides released in November 2007. Demon Days' lead single "Feel Good Inc." became Gorillaz' biggest hit at the time, while the album's second single, "Dare" featuring Shaun Ryder, was a big hit as well and gave the band their first #1 single in the UK. Since its release, Demon Days has been certified double platinum in the US[19] and 5× platinum in the UK.[20] It was also certified Gold in Japan.[21]

The limited edition of the album includes a DVD containing the video, audio commentary and an animatic for the music video "Feel Good Inc.", short animated films featuring the band, an exclusive audio track titled "The Swagga" and online access to exclusive sections of the band's website, with various wallpapers and screensavers, as well as a crowbar, facilitating the opening of a locked cupboard in the kitchen on Gorillaz.com in order to download the song, "Happy Landfill". This content is no longer available, however, the track appears on D-Sides (re-titled "We Are Happy Landfill").

'Reject False Icons'[edit]

The phrase 'Reject False Icons' was first mentioned on 24 November 2004 on a Gorillaz mail out to fans.[22] On 8 December, the Gorillaz website was re-opened with a brand new music video, "Rockit", which has the saying "Reject False Icons" at the end.[23] On 19 December the 'Reject False Icons' campaign kicked off with the launch of rejectfalseicons.com. Fans could submit their photos of ways to spread the message by using graffiti or by sticking 'Reject False Icons' stickers that were available for a limited period from the site and from selected record shops in the UK. It was first Respect False Icons, but Albarn changed it to Reject False Icons. Noodle said it is both 'Respect' and 'Reject'.

Search for a Star[edit]

In December 2004, the Gorillaz launched their own talent contest, Search for a Star, to find an artist to collaborate with.[24] There were on average over 100 entries per week whittled down to around 10 to be put forward for the public vote. The 200+ entries were viewed over a million times. A gallery room was added to Kong Studios which displayed all of the entries. Gorillaz' competition was initially run to pick just one winner from entries submitted to Gorillaz.com. However, at the end of the competition, it was announced that two further entries – one from the submitted images, and one from the submitted audio files – would be chosen by online vote.

All three collaborated on the fourth single release of Phase Two, "Kids with Guns" / "El Mañana". Sourbee provided his animated incarnation of the "Don't Get Lost in Heaven (Original Demo Version)" B-side, featured on the DVD version of the single. Asidus made a "Dirty Harry" remix called "Uno Quatro" featured on the Gorillaz website. Irina Bolshakova aka Schneeflocke created her own artistic interpretation of "El Mañana", featured on an insert included on the DVD version of the single. The winners were also originally supposed to have their own rooms in Kong Studios, but that never came to pass.

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 82/100[25]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[26]
Robert Christgau (3-star Honorable Mention)[27]
Entertainment Weekly B[28]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[29]
NME 8/10[30]
The Observer 5/5 stars[31]
Pitchfork Media 6.9/10[32]
PopMatters 9/10 stars[18]
Q 4.5/5 stars[25]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[33]

The album was acclaimed in most reviews from music critics.

  • Spin (p. 64) – Ranked #4 in Spin's "40 Best Albums of 2005" – "[A] vivid, spastic concept album about the last primates to survive the apocalypse"
  • Spin (p. 105) – "Albarn still has great taste in other people's music. His new accomplice, copyright pirate Danger Mouse, fills in suggestively dubby spaces with choirs, staggering synths, and MCs ranging from De La Soul to Roots Manuva to MF Doom." – Grade: B
  • Entertainment Weekly (No. 821/822, p. 136) – "[This] follow-up is spookier, blippier, and more on edge." – Grade: B
  • Uncut (p. 106) – 4 stars out of 5 – "Dazzlingly clever – great beats, brilliant production, top tunes and some of Albarn's best singing."
  • CMJ (No. 914, p. 4) – "...an immensely absorbable experience with plenty of rhymes and funked-out marching beats to bite into."
  • Vibe (p. 143) – "[A]s original – and just as much fun – as the first."
  • Mojo (p. 18) – Ranked #18 in Mojo's "The 50 Best Albums Of 2005" – "[A] genre-busting, contemporary pop milestone."

Complex include it on their list of 100 best albums of the complex decade placing it at 43.[34] Nme placed it 98th on their list of 100 greatest albums of the decade.[35] Uncut ranked it at 75 on their list of top 150 albums of the decade.[36] Glide listed it at 46 on their list of top 50 albums of the 2000s.[37] Spin include it in their list "The 300 best albums of the past 30 years (1985-2014)".[38]

  • Stylus magazine gave the album a B+, saying it was "much more consistent and coherent" than Gorillaz. Stylus complimented MF Doom's "standout" work on "November Has Come", while noticing that, like Albarn's Think Tank, many of the vocal lines on Demon Days are "buried under layers" of studio effects.[39]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Intro"   1:03
2. "Last Living Souls"   3:10
3. "Kids with Guns" (featuring Neneh Cherry) 3:45
4. "O' Green World"   4:31
5. "Dirty Harry" (featuring Bootie Brown and the San Fernando Valley Youth Chorus) 3:43
6. "Feel Good Inc." (featuring De La Soul) 3:41
7. "El Mañana"   3:50
8. "Every Planet We Reach Is Dead" (featuring Ike Turner) 4:53
9. "November Has Come" (featuring MF Doom) 2:41
10. "All Alone" (featuring Roots Manuva & Martina Topley-Bird) 3:30
11. "White Light"   2:08
12. "DARE" (featuring Shaun Ryder) 4:04
13. "Fire Coming Out of the Monkey's Head" (featuring Dennis Hopper) 3:16
14. "Don't Get Lost in Heaven" (featuring the London Community Gospel Choir) 2:00
15. "Demon Days" (featuring the London Community Gospel Choir) 4:28
Total length:
51:40
  • All bonus tracks were later made available on D-Sides.
Sample credits:

Personnel[edit]

Production
  • All tracks produced by Danger Mouse and Gorillaz. Co-produced by James Dring and Jason Cox except "68 State", "People", "The Swagga" and "We Are Happy Landfill" produced by Gorillaz, James Dring and Jason Cox.
  • The album was recorded at the Gorillaz' own studio and mixed at The Pierce Rooms. "All Alone"'s instrumental was partially recorded in Africa.

Singles[edit]

  • "Feel Good Inc." was the first single released from the album. It was released as a single in the UK and Australia on 9 May 2005, and charted at #2 in the UK, #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks.
  • "Dare" was the second single released from the album. It was released on 29 August 2005 in the UK. The single charted at #1 on the UK Singles Chart, #8 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks and #87 on the Billboard Hot 100.
  • "Dirty Harry" was the third single released from the album. It was released on 21 November 2005 in the UK, and charted at #6 on the UK Singles Chart.
  • "El Mañana" / "Kids with Guns" was the fourth and final single released from the album. It was released on 10 April 2006 in the UK. The winners for the Search for a Star competition collaborated with Gorillaz in various ways on the single. The single charted at #27 on the UK Singles Chart.

Charts[edit]

Chart (2005) Peak
position
Australian Albums (ARIA)[43] 2
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[44] 3
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[45] 4
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[46] 2
Danish Albums (Hitlisten)[47] 3
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[48] 15
Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista)[49] 10
French Albums (SNEP)[50] 1
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[51] 2
Irish Albums (IRMA)[52] 2
Italian Albums (FIMI)[53] 5
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[54] 3
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[55] 7
Polish Albums (ZPAV)[56] 13
Portuguese Albums (AFP)[57] 5
Spanish Albums (PROMUSICAE)[58] 22
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[59] 25
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[60] 1
UK Albums (OCC)[61] 1
US Billboard 200[62] 6

References[edit]

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External links[edit]