Part 3 of this 4 part series focusing on the remarkable career of Brian Burton, aka Danger Mouse, focuses on his most prolific year to date, 2008. During this time he spat out a second Gnarls Barkley album, as well as producing albums for Beck, the Black Keys, The Shortwave Set and Martina Topley Bird. Be sure to brush up on part 1 and part 2 of the series then get stuck into full streamers of all albums after the cut.
The Black Keys- Attack and Release
The fifth album by the American duo the Black Keys was the first of two (to date) produced by Danger Mouse, and his involvement marked a decidedly different sound for the band. Said Pitchfork of his involvement:
An auteur raised on hip-hop, DM keeps the record from staying overly loyal to the Creedence or Free templates. This is a small but crucial difference from 2006′s Magic Potion. He colors the band’s no-frills narratives with futuristic accents or, on the opposite end, rural flourishes of psychedelia and folk.
Listen To: I Got Mine
The Shortwave Set- Replica Sun Machine
Originally written and completed in early 2007, the Shortwave Set delayed the release of “Replica Sun Machine” by over a year in order to let Danger Mouse work his magic. The album, the second from the British alternative group, features cameos from Velvet Underground’s John Cale as well as a 24 piece orchestra. Danger Mouse and Cee Lo brought the band along on their 2006-2007 tour as Gnarls Barkley, and DM has already committed to producing the band’s 3rd album, though a release date has yet to be announced.
Listen To: No Social
Gnarls Barkley- The Odd Couple
The sophomore effort from Gnarls Barkley was greeted with enormous expectation after the international phenomenon that was “St. Elsewhere.” So much so, in fact, that the duo had to release the album a month earlier than expected dude to internet leaks. Although the album lacked the standout single that “Crazy” provided for their last album, the CD is nonetheless a solid effort, and earned Gnarls 4 Grammy nominations.
In a bizarre addendum, the pair released elpuoc ddo eht shortly afterward. Astute readers will notice that this spells, “The Odd Couple” backwards, this single, 38-minute-long track is an instrumental version of the album, played continuously from back to front. It was released for free online, as well as a separate disc on the vinyl edition of the album. You can download it here.
Listen To: Going On
Martina Topley Bird- The Blue God
Martina Topley Bird, similar to Danger Mouse, began her career making Trip-Hop inspired beats. She was at one time the preferred vocalist for Tricky, and her first album “Quixotic” was nominated for the UK’s prestigious Mercury Music award. Her second album “The Blue God,” departed somewhat from this trip-hop sound and ventured toward a more retro-inspired effort invoking contemporaries Amy Winehouse and Duffy. Said the BBC:
Danger Mouse’s production is a hall of mirrors, warping reflections of Ella Fitzgerald, two-tone ska, dark psychedelia and Pentangle’s ‘acid folk’ into unsettling shapes on tracks like Baby Blue and Shangri La.
Listen To: Poision
Beck- Modern Guilt
In producing Beck’s eleventh studio album, Danger Mouse further developed the retro sound he began with the likes of Gnarls Barkley and Martina Topley Bird. As with the vast majority of his productions, Danger Mouse keeps tracks on Modern Guilt short and sweet (the entire album is only 33 minutes long). Beck, who had produced all of his own previous albums showed great trust in working with Danger Mouse, and it paid off. “Modern Guilt” was his highest charting album in both the UK and Australia, as well as picking up another Grammy nomination.
Listen To: Walls
Check out Part 4 of the story for 2009, 2010, and beyond…