Release Date: Feb 24, 2009
Record label: Vice
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
In the last year, Atlanta, Georgia's finest have reportedly been dropped from a Tesco advert for singing about Muhammad, and banished from touring in India after outraging public decency. Apparently they're nowhere near as wild as they once were, but their fifth album still sounds convincingly reprobate. The band's "flower punk" - a raw, psychedelic take on garage rock - sounds like an unnatural coupling of the early Stones and Troggs with, unsurprisingly, an awful lot of howling.
They’re Atlanta’s champions of young dumb fun, remembered less for their garage-rock rave-ups than for the time their guitarist urinated into his own mouth on stage. But on Black Lips’ fifth studio album 200 Million Thousand, their music finally catches up with their live-show notoriety. The surf-rock riffs are woozier, the girl-group melodies are brighter, and the in-the-red production channels extra psych-rock paranoia.
On the Black Lips' fifth studio album, 2009's 200 Million Thousand, not much has changed on the surface. Maybe they are a little more together, more focused and tight, but they still have enough ramshackle swagger and loose-as-a-goose sleaze to go around and have enough for seconds. They still pick the bones of garage rock clean, sounding like they should be leading off side two of a Back from the Grave comp or at the very least a highlight of a Pebbles volume.
Recently, on the Sundance Channel’s Spectacle: Elvis Costello with…, guest M. Ward briefly mentions his appreciation for what he calls “timelessness” in music. He doesn’t mean music that stands the test of time, but instead music that, when heard out of context, could come from nearly any period. It’s a seemingly simple point, but it is also one we overlook.
Atlanta's flower punks follow their breakthrough release by heading back to the garagePossibly the most proletariat of all rock forms, garage rock hasn’t produced many acts as flamboyant as Black Lips, the Atlanta, Ga. , quartet that was recently chased out of India for being a bit too provocative (read: man-on-man kissing) on stage. That fuck-all attitude has largely characterized their body of work, a five-album oeuvre that has lifted them from genre-enthusiast obscurity and culminated with 200 Million Thousand, a release that continues their life on the margins by further vulgarizing their mix of surf riffs, girl-group hooks, and lo-fi psych.
Comedy in music is a double edged sword, irony a rubber mallet. Particularly if your influences aren’t immediately apparent, and crossing your fingers while hoping the audience are in on the gags isn’t always going to make for entertaining live shows. And some truly great rock n roll is already well beyond satire. Basically, Black Lips is the garage band that never quite made it out of the garage, and 200MillionThousand sounds a lot like a recently discovered cache of demo tapes from the late 60s and 70s, the collected works of a bunch of never-were’s who all promptly got proper jobs two months after aborting their album sessions.