The Black Lips from Atlanta (Georgia), fronted by vocalist Cole Alexander,
debuted with the
amateurish The Black Lips (2002), still featuring original guitarist
Ben Eberbaugh, a collection of lascivious garage rave-ups.
Throw It Away, pays tribute to
the 13th Floor Elevators
with miasmatic vocals and march-like guitar strumming and drumming.
Freakout resurrects the anthemic verve of the
Fleshtones adding savage vocals.
Ain't No Deal disfigures
Byrds-ian jangling guitars.
The rhythm of these garage gems is stubbornly primitive, just a ruthless banging over and over again.
Down And Out ventures into Captain Beefheart's territory.
They are less successful when they try
the agonizing blues (Stone Cold),
poppy refrains (Fad),
rollicking rigmaroles (Everybody Loves A Cocksucker),
(I've Got A Knife).
Singalongs such as You're Dumb might be fun to sing but are basically
amateurish takes on the Stooges.
Crude atonality and amazing bad taste gloriously persevered on
We Did Not Know the Forest Spirit Made the Flowers Grow (2004).
The exuberant and feverish M.I.A. seems to up the ante compared with
the first album, and the catchy refrain of the fast-paced
Nothing At All seems to take the
New York Dolls as a reference point.
Super X-13, instead, exceeds in pulsating chaos and noise.
and Time Of The Scab are collections of dejavu riffs.
The notable exception is the
neoclassical parody 100 New Fears (replete with harpsichord).
The same tactics
further devastated Let It Bloom (In The Red, 2005), that ended up sounding
ferocious and sinister where the first albums sounded playful and merely
The brief 16 songs make the point without a lot of subtlety.
Sea Of Blasphemy is a
perfect imitation of the sound of the early garage-bands, replete with
barbed-wire guitars and defiant vocals (with the addition of free-form noise).
The supersonic frenzy of Can't Dance evokes precisely the "dance crazes"
of the early Sixites, and the bluesy Boomerang is reminiscent of
early Rolling Stones.
Unfortunately it's mostly downhill from there, with the exception of the
effervescent Gung Ho and Take Me Home.
The band captures the rebellious zeitgeist of the era in the
agonizing Gentle Violence and the polka-esque singalong Punk Slime.
All of them recorded as primitive as possible.
After the live Los Valientes del Mundo Nuevo (Vice, 2007), the band
partially retreated from the abyss of musical horror with the better played
Good Bad Not Evil (2007), that even featured the slow and poppy
Veni Vidi Vici and
the country-music send-up How Do You Tell A Child That Someone Has Died,
leaving the rude O Katrina and Slime and Oxygen in the background.
Even by their standards,
200 Million Thousand (Vice, 2009) contains some truly demented skits.
Unfortunately, it's the music that does not stand up to the (sometimes glorious) ideas.
Drugs is the anthem of a saloon band that has listened too often to the
Rocky Horror Picture Show and ends up sounding like the most rocking
The piano boogie Short Fuse is the last sign of life.
Starting Over is a trite melody and
I'll Be with You is a lame ballad.
Searching for mainstream acceptance, they found mediocrity.
Sophisticated arrangements turned
Arabia Mountain (2011) into an aural sculpture (credit Amy Winehouse's producer Mark Ronson), the exact opposite of its predecessor.
Their imitation of the era of garage-rock becomes a painstaking exercise in
recreating the same production values and augment them with the swooning grace
of digital tools.
Next to what is basically a polished rewrite of their canon
(Family Tree and Mad Dog) and the usual sampling of themes and
techniques from the Kinks, Yardbirds, Rolling Stones and Animals (Don't You Mess Up My Baby), the Black Lips unfurl
anthemic pop ditties (Go Out and Get It and New Direction) and
Californian folk-rock elegies (Spidey's Curse and Bone Marrow)
that are more nostalgic than a vintage diary,
but also one hell of a punk-rock slam-dance (Raw Meat).
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