Saturday, August 11, 2012

ST. ELSEWHERE by Gnarls Barkley

Gnarls Barkley. (2006). St. Elsewhere (CD -- Music). New York: Downtown Records. $9.70

Description: The duo Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse put this record out in 2006 to almost unanimous critical acclaim. The record contains a wild mix of soul, funk, psychedelia, hip-hop, and electronica, and somehow they managed to put it all together with remarkable clarity of vision. The second track, "Crazy," became a hit song. Bumping with bass beats, swirling with soul, and pierced with Cee-Lo's wonderful high notes, it is an incredible song that defies strict categories. The other stand out track on this record is "Gone Daddy Gone," about a failed romance. Beat-heavy, this is song blends hip-hop with sly references to classic rockabilly. St. Elsewhere would be a great record for a limited collection because it will satisfy fans of many different genres -- lovers of hip-hop, soul, electronica, jazz, and pop will be entranced.

Artist bio: Gnarls Barkley comes from the union of two strong individuals. Cee-Lo Green is the rotund, sometimes foul-mouthed rapper from Atlanta’s Dirty South hip-hop subculture. Producer Brian Burton, known as Danger Mouse, made the famous “Grey Album” mashup, as well as for working with Damon Albarn’s Gorillaz and, more recently, Beck and Norah Jones.

The two met in Atlanta and began working together in 2003; their commercial high point was the once-inescapable single “Crazy.” Their major albums so far are “St. Elsewhere,” from 2006, and “The Odd Couple,” from 2008. The latter features a dark and highly praised song “Who’s Gonna Save My Soul.” Overall, the group brings soul music back to hip hop, and adds bits of experimentalism around the edges.

Genre: CD.

Curriculum Ties: N/A

Interest Age: 13 +

Challenge Issues: N/A

Why Included: The band is one of the best reviewed rap/soul outfits around.

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