The only garage band that matters?

Dec 7, 2005 at 12:00 am

Reams have been written about the Black Lips’ out-of-control live shows. The vomiting, the firecrackers, the penis-played guitar solos and the urinating into one’s own mouth all make for sensational headlines, but their records often leave listeners nonplussed. This release will change that.

These lovable degenerates’ unhinged brand of out-of-tune garage rock — à la Back from the Grave comps — has never been properly captured on record. With their first two albums on Bomp, the songs were always a little too lo-fi, a tad bit jokey or sometimes obvious throwaways. Not only has the recording improved here (split between sessions in California and Germany), but the songwriting is elevated to surprising heights. Before, everything sounded vaguely like an obscure Fenton Records b-side; now, songs sound like spit-shined lumps of coal with diamonds ready to burst through. It’s equally polished and psychopathic, from the ferocious fuzz-punk of “Sea of Blasphemy” to the unexpected (and brilliantly executed) cover of Jacques Dutronc’s “Hippie Hippie Hoorah” and the tipsy and lighthearted rollick of “Feeling Gay.”

If the Black Lips can get people to look past the live shocks (apparently, firecrackers are the only remaining freak-out in their set), they’ll reveal a band that’s hit a stride. While their press release quotes Mick Collins as saying “the Black Lips are the only garage band that matters,” rest assured — that hyperbolic statement will prove to be fact, not opinion.

Ben Blackwell writes about music for Metro Times . Send comments to [email protected].