I have no problem making making the solid statement that The Black Lips are the only band that can play music like The Black Lips. And while you’re probably having a “Duh!” moment right now…hear me out.
I’m a Johnny-come-lately with The Black Lips. 200 Million Thousand was a random purchase, solely based on a review of a live show they played. From Atlanta, Georgia, The Black Lips (according to an unofficial source……eh hem, Wikipedia) formed in 2000 after guitarist Cole Alexander and bassist Jared Swilley left the Renegades, and guitarist Ben Eberbaugh left the Reruns. Drummer Joe Bradley joined a few months later. They released their first 7-inch in 2002 on their own record label, Die Slaughterhaus. Unfortunately, Eberbaugh died in a car accident, but the band forged on believing that he’d want them to. They’ve since released five albums, and are currently touring the U.S. and some other stupid countries.
I think The Black Lips are ambassadors of their own style, and as a musician it’s easy to surmise why. The band does what they do best in a garage-y, fuzzy and even surf-y style of musicianship. Self described as “flower punk”, most tracks on the album are non-bloated and a total of three comfortable minutes long. Any longer would be rubbish, and I don’t think the band would consider it.
Making complex music takes concentration, a hairy set of balls and typically a bunch of white dudes on mushrooms. When you make it simple like The Black Lips do, it takes a different type of vision that’s almost more cerebral and thought-out. You also have to implement a fictitious self-edit button. For example, Trapped In A Basement is essentially a very long, ominous verse. The song has has a drony “Stooges” feel… meaning that it rocks like a rusty-nail being scratched against metal.
200 Million Thousand‘s intentional analog recording style really makes it a fluid disc to listen from beginning to end without a piss break. The essential components are available: Guitarist/singer Alexander takes the back seat, his mono-tone high-pitched voice being a perfect fit for the bands fuzzy…sometimes HIPPIE soundtrack. Compound that with his backing band hitting all the right marks, then you’ve got a better band then the Black Keys and the Black Kids combined.
“I’ll Be With You”, one of the album’s ballads, sounds like a dawdling Brian Wilson style medley. Singing And I know that it’s hard, to be like you are, I want you to know that we won’t fall apart, Alexander emotes in a punkish screech that hasn’t been heard in any mainstream capacity in quite some time.
All in all, 200 Million Thousand is a memorable purchase, and I look forward to hearing the album reproduced live later this month. You can check the band out on myspace, or youtube or fuck….whatever else is used these days to raise ones music-geek hard on. Give ’em a spin at www.mysapce.com/theblacklips.
Vice Records [CD, 2009]
1. Take My Heart
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. Drop I Hold
12. Body Combat
14. I Saw God