Review : Rocket Juice and the Moon - Rocket Juice and the Moon
NZ HeraldIt may be a supergroup - made up primarily of Blur/Gorillaz chap Damon Albarn, Red Hot Chili Pepper Flea and Afrobeat legend Tony Allen (longtime drummer for the late great Fela Kuti) - but this album often sounds waffly and wayward. And sometimes, on the instrumental interlude-style ditties of Night Watch and Check Out, it is especially directionless and rambling.
Though it channels the restless Afrobeat spirit, with Albarn's keyboard whimsy and Flea's head-nodding, arse-twitching bass lines coming to the fore, it sometimes sounds more like a musical plaything than an album. It's almost as if this accomplished lot can't decide whether they got together to have a laid back jam or to create something wondrous, experimental and new....full text
Av ClubDamon Albarn’s obvious analogue is David Byrne, a guy bored with his not-exactly-basic rock band and far more interested in setting up collaborations between world-class musicians and positioning himself as the nucleus, the Pop Star With Taste. But how about Tony Allen, who’s clearly the Dave Grohl of Afrobeat? Like Grohl, he’s a colossally skilled drummer yet still approachable, which might explain how he’s worked with everybody. With Chili Pepper-turned-Thom Yorke-gun-for-hire Flea somewhere in between the two, Rocket Juice & The Moon could be these superstars’ own Them Crooked Vultures. (The goofy name sure matches up.) But while Rocket Juice & The Moon, like Vultures, doesn’t seem built to go the distance, its pocket Afrofunk grooves sure have a better shelf life than muscle-crunch rock....full text
Consequence of soundSupergroups are of two varieties: a heterogeneous mashup of styles (e.g. Oysterhead), or like-minded, stylistically homogenous artists (e.g. Wild Flag, Cream). At first glance, Rocket Juice and the Moon, comprised of Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz) on guitar, Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers) on bass, and Tony Allen (Fela Kuti) on drums, falls into the former category. Yet Albarn and Flea have totally absorbed Allen’s Nigerian funk soundworld while still contributing their own idiosyncratic stamps. The result is a highly enjoyable album of Afrobeat music accented with edgy bass and artsy guitar/synth melodies.
“Hey, Shooter”, with guest vocals from Erykah Badu, distills the best of this group’s sound into a taut four minutes. Flea’s bass lines retain his trademark pop and attack, but settle into a smoother groove than on most RHCP songs. Similarly, Albarn crafts repetitive riffs of an indie/art-rock character that seamlessly integrate into the weave of drums, bass, horns, and smooth vocals....full text
GuardianNo stranger to all-star collaborations – witness Gorillaz and the Good, the Bad & the Queen – Damon Albarn's latest project finds him joining forces with Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea and Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen, together with assorted guests. While there are moments when everything falls into place (the Erykah Badu-assisted "Hey, Shooter"; a rare Albarn vocal on "Poison"; the sense of space on "Extinguished"), too often technical proficiency trumps songwriting. The instrumental likes of "Worries", "Night Watch" and the menacing "Check Out" are rhythmically complex and deftly performed, yet still they struggle to engage the listener. It's not just the outfit's name that's a slight disappointment....full text
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