Gorillaz, the "virtual band" of cartoon characters that was founded anonymously in 1998 by Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett, was both avant garde in its intentions and highly marketable. In a world of relentless self-serving publicity, it was refreshing to have musicians not be so concerned with celebrity. The band's music is a collaboration between various musicians; Albarn being the only permanent musical contributor. Their style is broadly alternative rock, but with a large number of other influences.
In 2004, the hip hop band De La Soul collaborated with Gorillaz on the single, Feel Good Inc. (De la Soul's album 3 Feet High and Rising, is being added to the Library of Congress' 2010 National Recording Registry.) They repeated the collaboration on the 2010 Gorillaz album, Plastic Beach, which has a song called Some Kind of Nature featuring Lou Reed that reminds you of Feel Good.
Gorillaz are now charging for their most recent album The Fall, which they released as a free download last Christmas . The Fall was made during Gorillaz's 2010 US tour, with Damon Albarn claiming it was recorded on an iPad. The group's fictional frontman, 2D, offered his thoughts on the The Fall. "It's mostly just me," he said, "something more gentle and just ... well ... it's just me and an iPad really mucking about ... trying out some stuff. Just looking at America and then tapping on the screen". Most of the song titles include an American city - it's like taking a musical road trip.
Blog note - This blog reminds me of another one I wrote titled Dangermouse - I don't know if the attraction is to groups that bring together various types of musicians or have cartoon personae.
To find more music to listen to for free, and some music to download for free, see the Library's new Information Guide - Listening to and Downloading Music.