Everybody In The Club Gettin’ Tipsy (Gorillaz, Humanz review)


Hosting a party is easy, as long as you can get your different friend groups to play nice, keep everyone engaged, and don’t disappear for a smoke or three.


Gorillaz – Humanz

released April 28, 2017
******* 7/10

Gorillaz are an English virtual cartoon band created by Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett of Tank Girl fame. This band is made up of 2-D (lead vocals, keyboards), Murdoc Niccals (bass guitar and vocals), Noodle (guitar, keyboards), and Russel Hobbs (drums and percussion).

The fictional universe of Gorillaz is constructed by the music Albarn creates and their personas have been formed by the collaborations Albarn has orchestrated with other artists whom have made sense creatively with the otherworldly sounds of the band. Plus Hewlett adds visual flavour in album covers, concept art, and music videos, among other things. And all of this has worked over the current four phases of Gorillaz history. None of it ever feels quite real, and yet it is familiar because the quartet address issues of our time, albeit through their cartoon lens of mystery.

It’s all quite heady and fun.

And that’s because Gorillaz are combining rock, rap, electronica, reggae, pop, trip hop, and an assortment of other sounds together to evoke the feelings needed to build these worlds, and Albarn has been fairly consistent throughout this journey.

But it’s also been seven years since The Fall, and the end of Phase Three – Escape To Plastic Beach.

Phase Four – We Are Still Humanz catches us up on what has been happening with Noodle, Murdoc, Russel, and 2-D, and its been interesting. Lots of references to their time at Plastic Beach, and even incorporation of social media into their lives, but of particular note is how Gorillaz used YouTube to tease the albums release, adding new videos about a month ahead of the official worldwide release date.

Featuring performances from Anthony Hamilton, Jehnny Beth, Mavis Staples, Vince Staples, Peven Everett, D.R.A.M., Jamie Principle, Danny Brown, Grace Jones, Zebra Katz, Del La Soul, Benjamin Clementine, Kelela, Popcaan, Pusha T., and Kali Uchis, each track runs its own course; some faring better than others, but the interludes helping to form a post-apocalyptic story following the US presidency of Donald Trump.

And it’s entertaining. A party for the end of the world, with each room being all the more appealing and with its own decor. Though I have to wonder if staging a house party with club music is really the right solution to the scenario at hand, after all, you’re still at the house. On top of that consideration is the challenge that frontman 2-D is notably absent from a lot of the tracks, this seems to be more of a free-for-all than a bonafide representation of these artists as a voice for Gorillaz.

That said, it’s kinda exciting to see the younger generation getting excited about artists unfamiliar to them through the looking glass that Albarn so deftly supplies. This is his project you know, and he’ll invite whoever he wants to party with him. Plus, he’s cool enough that these new friends will rub off on you.

theories Summarized

If you’ve ever listened to Clint Eastwood or Feel Good Inc. before, you can probably forgive Gorillaz for sounding a bit disjointed on this effort. Besides, the interludes help give this record a sense of continuity, even if 2-D isn’t there often enough to keep up with his hosting duties. Maybe Murdoc will finally step in, we know he wants to be lead anyway.


Post-Apocalyptic Triangulation (Z for Zachariah review)

People are sick. They have an odd fascination with the end of the world as we know it. EOTWAWKI for short. But the problem with the EOTWAWKI is that it’s been done so many time in film, music, visual art and literature now, that we don’t really react to it as viscerally as we should.

I blame it on summer blockbusters, but that’s just my theory. Now, where it gets interesting is when we start to explore movies that deal with the subtleties of what could happen both during and post. Today’s review is about the later.




Z For Zachariah (2015)

Cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Margot Robbie, Chris Pine
Director: Craig Zobel
released on blu-ray October 20, 2015
******** 8/10


IMDB: 6.0
Rotten Tomatoes: 79%, Audience Score 45%
The Guardian: ***/*****

Craig Zobel is an American director, who got his start as a co-founder of the animated web series Homestar Runner. If you don’t know anything about Homestar Runner, you need to go check it out right now. Stop reading this review and watch some episodes of the show. Start with the back catalogue first, especially the Strong Bad Emails. Done? Good.

How weird is it that the guy who made that show is making serious movies now? I find it very unsettling, especially considering how much I enjoyed Z for Zachariah. And the fact that Zobel also directed Compliance, a 2012 movie about the strip search prank call scam that happened in the United States in the early 2000s.

Z for Zachariah is the story of a woman named Ann (Margot Robbie) who has survived nuclear war. She is living on her family farm in the middle of a valley – which has somehow been sheltered from the fallout, with the exception of water that comes over the falls from the mountains. She has a good routine which involves feeding both her and her dog, tending the land, and enjoying music and books.

One day a stranger (Chiwetel Ejiofor) enters the valley in a radiation suit. He was working in a government bunker and avoided the initial attacks, but has definitely been effected by the radiation and loneliness from searching for survivors. When he stumbles upon Ann’s valley, he immediately goes to the falls to clean himself, but Ann jumps out and warns him of the radiation. The man gets sick, and she cares for him until he is well, asking God that he might live. We learn his name is John Loomis, and both Ann and John begin to trust one another.

At one point John suggests that they build a waterwheel to divert the water and generate power, however because it would require a break down of the community church that Ann’s father built, she is reluctant to do so, and John drops the subject. Their chemistry and sexual tension increases over time as well, and just as the relationship is about to blossom another stranger shows up. His name is Caleb (Chris Pine) and he has a different perspective on how events should play out than John.

This is where the story gets interesting, a love triangle forms between the three characters, with conflict between John wanting Ann for himself, wanting her happiness, distrust for Caleb and Ann caught in the middle. We get to witness the full range of emotions that each character has about the other two, without a ton of dialogue. In some ways, it simplifies the plot, but in others it sets the story up for a rather poignant ending, which I won’t ruin because I think it’s worth saving.

Pros: It is a very thoughtful story, albeit somewhat slow in it’s pacing. But with the decision made, it allows the viewer the opportunity to really mull over what has been seen and wonder whether characters are committing deeds out of love or self-love.

Cons: The movie struggles with knowing when to speed up and really make a choice about it’s message. We are left to fill in a few of the gaps ourselves.

Runtime1 hour 38 minutes

Points of Interest: Based upon a book by Robert C. O’Brien, the love triangle is not in the original story, which only featured Ann and John.

This is a nuanced and interesting take on the post-apocalyptic film. Chiwetel Ejiofor gaves a nuanced performance and makes you question his character though he is set up as the sympathetic male lead from the start. Margot Robbie of course delivers with a range of emotions and her obvious naïveté as a young woman who doesn’t know what to do. She pulls it off well. And of course, Chris Pine is always charming and interesting with his devil-may-care attitude. While Z for Zachariah s not quite the same thing as the book, Zobel manages to construct an interesting story all the same.




This post-apocalyptic movie is definitely a slow go, but it does ask the question – what if you had all the time in the world? What would you do? And then what would you do if all of a sudden there was a possibility that you had to suffer as a third wheel in an infinite loop? Zobel manages to expose these shifts in power and opportunity, never revealing what each characters true motivations are. I doubt you’ll catch many Z’s after watching this one, but that’s just a theory.


Reading Is Hard (Hemingway to Orwell)

Reading is cathartic, or so I’ve heard. You get a psychological release because your mind is allowed to focus on something other than whatever it is that you had decided to be afraid of in life.

To be true to yourself, you have to uncover yourself from all that you thought you should be and finally become that which you truly are. To be courageous and graceful, under pressure. Never fearing death, but living for moments of love and greatness.

Clean and simple prose, that’s what I learned from Ernest Hemingway. He was a declarative writer and one that could turn a phrase without risk of excess.

I’m not sure if you read the first post in The Reading List series, but about a month ago I decided to meta-read The Sun Also Rises, and I learned a thing or two about Ernest Hemingway along the way.

The first thing I learned was that he had a very direct style of writing, and that style had a name – That his Iceberg Theory of writing is a beautiful metaphor for omission. If you know something, and are a strong writer, you can admit parts of a story and be assured that the reader will pick upon what you omitted because the story elements are implicit. To put it another way, icebergs only show a small portion of themselves on the surface of the water, which allows us to understand the whole of them all the better. Unless we are ignorant.

The second thing I learned is that a life half lived is not much of a life at all. Whatever Hemingway’s critics and fans would have us believe about his adventures in journalism, tragedies of war, foray’s into other countries, and personal struggles, Hemingway stood grounded in whatever activities held his attention throughout his life – And writing was the cement that held his house together. This further demonstrates the importance of focus, as an artist, but also enrichment as a human being.

And that is all I have to share on Hemingway for the moment.

Now, I turn back to the reading list for another book to read and another artist to consider. In case you forget, my goal is to read one book a month from 5 particular groupings. The 5 L’s of Language.

  • LIFE – Biographies/Art/Music
  • LOVE – Classic Fiction/Non-Fiction/Graphic Novels
  • LEARN – Business/Leadership/Self-Help
  • LABEL – Philosophy/Sociology/Psychology
  • LEET -The Internet

The author I’m going after this time around is George Orwell, and the novel is 1984. I was born in 1985, and have been influenced greatly by post-modern ideologies and post-apocalyptic stories for as long as I can remember, so I’ve decided to read a story by someone best known for a novel of dystopian life.

His influence on film is of particular note, with Orwellian ideas being explored to varying degrees in several critically acclaimed movies. Fahrenheit 451, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Planet of the Apes, THX 1138, A Clockwork Orange, Soylent Green, Blade Runner, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Brazil, They Live, The Matrix, Minority Report, V for Vendetta, Children of Men, and Land of the Blind are all excellent examples.

Whatever you opinion of George Orwell, I’ll spend some time with him so see what I can glean and then share with you, dear readers. After all, reading is cathartic and exercise for the mind.


Regardless, I STILL think it’s a pretty neat way to keep myself accountable. But what do you think? I’m out of theories for today, but I hope this wisdom finds you well. Please share, subscribe and comment. Facebook and Twitter are good starting points. Otherwise, I’ll see you tomorrow with something timely.