You won't make it very far into the wild history of The Black Lips before you'll start to wonder whether the self professed "flower punk" foursome weren't actually dragged kicking and screaming from a 60's club on Haight-Ashbury and made to cope in the wilds of music's modern age. I mean, between the legendary live shows, the vintage sci-fi freakbeat, and the fabled treks through the deserts of Mexico and the Middle East, their exploits read more like a surreal drug addled episode of Survivorman than a proper band bio. Not surprising then that they would eventually find a home for their fifth album under the auspices of Vice Records, probably the only music enterprise left whose industry types are likeminded enough to, not only support the group's untamed rock and roll debaucheries, but egg them on to achieving new ones.
Of course, by "new ones" I'm referring specifically to Good Bad Not Evil, an album that, on first spin, sounds as psychotic as it does psychedelic. Channeling the lysergic aggression of Sky Saxon's Seeds or the oft overlooked 13th Floor Elevators, the album is brimming with so many fuzzed out riffs and Byrdsy jangles that you'd half expect it to be featured in the pages of Ugly Things Magazine, or blasting from the monitor speakers of some happening sixties retro party. But then again it's also oh so much more than just retro rehash.
Good Bad Not Evil is also a decidedly modern album full of modern concerns and modern sounds. In fact the third track, "Veni Vidi Vici," (or World War III) with its syrupy drum loop, marks perhaps the Lips' most futuristic vision to date. Lyrically as well the band seems to have expanded to include much more personal stories. Particularly, I'm thinking of "How Do You Tell a Child That Someone Has Died," a song written after long time guitarist Ben Eberbaugh was killed by a drunk driver.
But the band never loose sight of what made them Atlanta Georgia's most respected garage pop sons and every parent's worst nightmare. The whole thing is an unbridled ball of punk rock energy that is as dazzling an achievement as it is a wonderful catastrophe.
Review by: Chris Webster
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The Black Lips - "Cold Hands"