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Black Lips – 200 Million Thousand

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Black Lips – 200 Million Thousand (Vice Records; released February 24th, 2009)

Okay, so the Black Lips are on Vice Records; anybody wanna bet they get a positive review in the next issue of their sister media outlet Vice Magazinewhich oddly enough, on one page will have a startling and well-written feature that exposes corruption in some South American country’s economic practices and then on the opposite page some naked and indifferent hipster douchebag chick eye-fucking the shit out of the camera? Yeah, don’t take any advice from these people seriously- the day I listen to something based on a glowing review from those coke-addicted pricks over at Vice Mag, shoot me in the face. Twice. Then dismember my body and feed it to wolves; because wolves rule.

But I can digress back into reality now- they will get a good review from their own company; because 200 Million Thousand is a good record. In fact, even at their very worst, Black Lips are still pretty good. Fuzzy, lo-fi, garage or “flower punk”, whatever they’re being called and whatever they call themselves, it works.

The album’s first track, Take My Heart, is awash in fuzziness and reverberated screamy vocals from Cole Alexander, followed by the sublime Drugs; a head-bobber in it’s own right, taking direction from surf rock as well as rockabilly, let’s call it garage-surfabilly. The album’s single, Starting Over is easy on the ears, the guitar line used by Ian St. Pe evokes memories of Roger McGuinn‘s guitar work on The Byrds classic tune Eight Miles High.

Trapped In A Basement is dark and creepy; like walking into a dewy spider web- it’s all around you, covering you, you can’t get it off. The simple bass line provides atmospherics while the springy guitar work adds a subtle touch of lingering paranoia. It’s a slice of horror music; borrowing from The Cramps‘ as much as it can. And the track Short Fuse lends itself to The Troggs‘ body of work- more on Black Lips‘ list of influences in a minute.

I’ll Be With You is a surfy little jam, getting more with less- it’s hard to think that Black Lips records on anything more than a four track; maybe they need five at most. BBBJOT (Big Black Baby Jesus Of Today) pushes the envelope of good taste pretty hard; then again this is a band that’s known for mid-show make-out sessions with each other, vomiting, nudity and pissing in each other’s mouths and blowing up fireworks on stage, so there’s really no such thing as good taste in their world. Yes, they’ve matured- I saw them last year and they were tame by anyone’s standards, even though it was at Berkeley’s Amoeba Records. Unless you count their recent tour of India, then, uh…

Exploring hip-hop (and using a scary-ass sound clip from The Jonestown Death Tapes) on The Drop I Hold; Jared Swilley‘s minimal but funky bass line goes below sub-sonic, rattling the hell out of my shitty speakers. And another famous sound clip of the kid on LSD on I Saw God- Alexander relates his first experience with acid, given to him by his friend James. Huh, if I had a song written about all the people I gave LSD to for their first time, it might sound something like this, you know, because my name is James and I gave a lot of people acid. Umm, sorry Mom & Dad- if you’re reading this.

All the bands that’ve influenced Black Lips reads like a music history lesson; the previous mentions of garage, punk, psychedelia, surf and rockabilly bands notwithstanding, there’s a lot to be said about a band who not only knows about all those other bands, yet hails them as major influences- and their average age is pushing just under 27 years. Critcally acclaimed as much as they’ve been maligned; it’s obvious that the Dirty South has something cooking- I’m thinking that the Black Lips don’t care what you say about them; as long as it’s about them.

Tracklisting:

  1. Take My Heart
  2. Drugs
  3. Starting Over
  4. Let It Grow
  5. Trapped in a Basement
  6. Short Fuse
  7. I’ll Be With You
  8. Big Black Baby Jesus of Today
  9. Again & Again
  10. Old Man
  11. The Drop I Hold
  12. Body Combat
  13. Elijah
  14. I Saw God
  15. Meltdown (Hidden Track)

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