Gorillaz iPad Project ‘The Fall’ Gets Traditional Release in April

Gorillaz 'The Fall'The Fall, a collection of songs that Damon Albarn (mostly) performed and recorded on his iPad during the Gorillaz 32-day North American fall tour will finally be made available as a traditional digital download, CD and vinyl release.

The 15 tracks had been previously posted on Christmas eve to the Gorillaz website and available to anyone who had signed up to the mailing list. The Fall will be available as a special vinyl release on April 16 as part of Record Store Day 2011. A CD and digital download will be available two days later.

Some fans and critics have been very critical about the recordings referring to them as rambling and amateurish and not worthy of release under the Gorillaz monicker.

I however enjoyed the tracks for what they were, sound explorations – these are the rough and raw creative explorations, the sonic frameworks that may eventually grow into fully-realized songs or just left unheard by the public. They can’t be compared to a fully produced Gorillaz album. I enjoy hearing the creativity of Albarn in all its forms.

Albarn had described the album as a type of sonic journal, recorded in his spare time during the tour.

“I did it because there’s a lot of time that you just spend staring at walls essentially. And it was a fantastic way of doing it. I found working in the day, whether it’s in the hotel or in the venue, it was a brilliant way of keeping myself well. I literally wrote everything on the day in each place and there’s a strange sort of sound of America and its musical traditions that comes through. It feels like a journey through America.”

Spotify & NPR Listeners Get First Listen to REM’s Collapse Into Now

REM Collapse Into NowI don’t really listen to ‘radio’ anymore. Its been years since I’ve commuted by car and listened to morning and evening drive shows. I like most people discover and share music through their friends on Twitter, Facebook and Blogs or music services like Last.fm, Pandora.

One of the most common places I hear new albums now is at NPR Music. Anyone who follows me on Twitter has seen me tweet enthusiastically as highly anticipated albums are streamed through their First Listen feature. Recently NPR has used the chat application ScribbleLive effectively for shared listening parties of new releases including Radiohead’s ‘The King of Limbs’ 2 weeks ago.

On January 3, NPR debuted ‘Oh My Heart’ the first song from REM’s soon-to-be-released Collapse Into Now, their first album since 2008.

Since I don’t listen to radio I don’t know if these albums are being played in their entirety on air, but it hardly matters as ‘Collapse Into Now’ is being streamed in its entirety from the NPR Music site a week before its scheduled North American release date.

It’s also available to the premium users of Spotify in the UK, Sweden, Spain, Norway, Netherlands and Finland before its European release. I am fortunate to have an invite to Spotify, and that’s where I am enjoying the album right now.

I have a feeling that providing these exclusive preview releases will combat downloading by curious listeners. But serious fans will always want to have that instant access to albums for their mobile devices by downloading the files legally or in other ways.

One hopes that Spotify (if it ever makes it to North America), iTunes cloud service, or the half-dozen similar streaming music services will somehow be able to provide that instant access to music anywhere that I am.

As for my first impressions of ‘Collapse Into Now’ – it sounds to me as a return to the REM I loved on 1993s  ‘Automatic for the People’. Standout tracks on my first few listens are the ballads ‘Oh My Heart’, ‘UBerlin’ as well as rockers ‘All the Best’, ‘Mine Smell Like Honey’ and ‘That Someone is You’.

Radiohead’s new album ‘The King of Limbs’ arrives a day early!

Radiohead - King of LimbsIt really wasn’t a surprise that Radiohead’s 8th studio album ‘The King of Limbs’ would be available as a direct download from their website, or that they would move away the “Pay what you want” pricing of 2007’s ‘In Rainbows’. They’ve never really revealed what the average price that people selected to pay, except to admit that the amount of downloads that occurred through Torrent sites probably eclipsed their 3 million total album sales across all of the available formats.

What was surprising was the speed at which the events took place this week. On Monday, Feb 14, Radiohead fans worldwide spontaneously wet themselves as the band announced that the digital download would be available on Saturday Feb 19 at a cost of $9 for the MP3s and $14 for the WAV files. A release described as a ‘newspaper album’ costing $48 would follow on March 28 that includes the digital download, 2 10 inch vinyl records, a CD and large sheets of artwork, 625 smaller pieces all packaged within a sheet of oxo-degradable plastic.

In one more surprise move (which no doubt was planned all along) the album was made available on Radiohead’s website a day early (Friday, February 18). Except for one brief error on the site, the experience was seamless. There were no issues on with the payment process and the 89MB quickly downloaded to my computer and unzipped. And there was much rejoicing in my brain.

As someone who has been buying albums since the early 70s, I am always excited to get my hands on an artists brand new work. Its the exact same way today, even though the instant gratification of a digital download or a ‘leaked’ album beats out traveling to my local record store or mall chain, not to mention the excitement of reading and reacting to the thousands of posts, tweets and blog reviews. NPR organized a last-minute listening party on their site using Toronto’s ScribbleLive chat technology, providing a great shared experience as listeners left their comments and impressions as they experienced Radiohead’s new music as a group.

Oh and by the way, the album is pretty good – layers of distorted instrumentation and electronics, offbeat rhythms, Thom Yorke’s soaring falsetto are all represented here. Early favorites to my ears are ‘Lotus Flower’, ‘Codex’ and ‘Give Up The Ghost’.

Want to Hear the New Flaming Lips Song? First find 11 friends.

Anyone who has ever experienced a The Flaming Lips concert in person or listened to their recordings knows that the Oklahoma City band isn’t afraid of experimentation. Leader Wayne Coyne is famous for walking across the heads of their audience is a giant inflatable plastic ball, and there’s no better man you want on the business end of a confetti gun in a concert crisis. Over on the recording side, there’s been 20 albums of wild pop experiments, a remake of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and their own indie movie Christmas on Mars.

In 2011, the Flaming Lips have announced they will release a new track every month, and this is the first result (not sure what happened to January). Not to worry, the song ‘Two Blobs Fucking‘ (don’t worry, there’s a bit more NSFW language in the instructional video too) is available on the Flaming Lips YouTube Channel as 12 separate tracks. You’ll need to sync together 12 devices with each playing one of the different videos.

Below is a handy instructional video. Now I’m off to find 11 friends insane enough to try this.