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July 13, 2024

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The Black Lips!
The Black Lips! (Bomp Records)

By: Vinnie Apicella

My God a few seconds into "Throw it Away" and I thought I was taking another nightmarish trip down Sesame Street! And yeah, the whole song's got that bubbly, skip the sidewalk from side to side smiley-faced vibe outlining a sore-throated voice box effect to provide contrasting irritability. We're not quite so lucky on track two, but then little did we know The Dave Clark Five would be making their 30-year reunion on a song called "Freakout" no less. The tunes are short and sweet -- here's hoping a little more cloud cover rolls in for extra density -- and it does on the welcome closing, train wreck of a song that I can best describe contemporarily as that sorta "hit" Vines tune where the lightning bolts crash into their equipment and they stand there playing and striking stupid poses. The songs on "The Black Lips" are top heavy and amateurishly presented to the point where at all four corners of the room, you're bombarded by tool boxes, wall calendars and various assorted fluid stains. Think of it as Garage Rock with a psychedelic twist of Rockabilly, The Wolfman, and Dick Dale creations that when the dust settles, it's like a reprinted copy of The Stones' (circa '67). "I've Got A Knife" is a major kick in the nuts as if someone suddenly decided distribution should expel from both channels -- and again, short, short, short. Best song on the record and I can't even finish a lousy sentence before I'm bombarded by fucking Big Bird muttering something about being "Down And Out." I wish I could side step the Sesame Street reference, I really do. Okay, we'll return to the American Graffiti soundtrack for a second trip to Saturday night cinema. I'm not crazy about the name and I'm even less crazy about the guitar player's moon on the back cover, but there's an animalistic quality to this stuff that transcends simple childhood pleasure to the point where not only do you not want to sing along, you're damn near ready to hit the mute button for fear of nerve damage from occasional but out of nowhere fun with feedback. Their style is nothing fancy, just dirty overalls and do it yourself, and if I had to guess, here's the album all of your late-sixties' faves would've loved to make if censorship didn't stop 'em in their open-toed tracks -- and somehow guys like Young and Dylan still loosened the slack enough to reel off a good one now and then. These guys are out there chasing their own asses a little too much for me to go ga-ga over, though if we're really to do this right, I'd be under an adequate influence consistent with the return trip I'm taking here. So pop the top and rediscover the combined arts of Classic Rock, primal Punk, psychedelia, sappy Folk and silly studio spurts to keep ya guessing; There's some talent to go with the whole Stones, Dwarves, Dylan, Hives persona -- so envision each of the four somehow, and maddeningly so at times, blended together and guesting from one song to another though when we arrive at "Everybody Loves a Cocksucker," all bets are off. The songs say a lot about versatility for The Black Lips, a laugh and a half and fun for all, but ain't enough groove to grab onto and too diminutive to develop any real singularity if not staying power.
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