The Black Lips - Arabia Mountain
Record Label: Vice Records
Release Date: June 7, 2011
The Black Lips is a band that has a truly unique sound, stage presence and image. There really aren't too many other bands doing what these guys do as well as they do it in modern music. They have coined the term "flower punk" (for their brand of retro garage rock); it's actually not a bad description. They just have that retro lo-fi sound down to a science, if that's your cup of tea. Seeing them live is quite an experience, too, once getting chased out of India for public nudity while on stage.
Basically, these guys are super rad and have some great tunes to back up their totally ridiculous antics. Their past albums have been quite good, my previous favorite being Good Bad Not Evil. Their most recent album prior to Arabia Mountain, 200 Million Thousand, was not a bad album, but I felt that they were just a little too goofy. It had some great tunes ("Short Fuse," "Take My Heart," "Drugs"); I just felt that they could have created had an album of ALL great tunes.
I've been a huge fan of these dudes for a while, and being from Atlanta, I couldn't be prouder of the effort these guys came up with this time. Arabia Mountain is truly a great album and the perfect soundtrack to my summer. The Black Lips brought in a producer for the first time: fancy pants Mark Ronson. The result is an album that refines their dirty garage sound and showcases the Lips' songwriting chops.
The album opens with "Family Tree," a quirky jangle with some funky horns - a great opening. The next song and first single, "Modern Art," is an instant classic for the Lips. With a sick riff, lyrics about tripping on Ketamine at art museums (sample lyric "K-hole at the Dali/Seeing the unknown/Well i mighta been on Molly/cuz my mind feels blown"), this song is just killer in every way and very catchy. "Spideys Curse" is an incredible song title and track; the lyrics about ol' Petey Parker get stuck in my head pretty quickly.
Other favorites include "Mad Dog," with its "ah-ah" background vocals and interesting horns, the somewhat inspirational "Go out and Get it," "Bone Marrow," the just plain cool "Bicentennial Man," the just plain goofy "Dumpster Diving" and "New Direction." All of the songs are great and becoming lodged into my skull every time I hear the album.
Speaking of skulls, the band used a human skull as a reverb chamber during the recording of Arabia Mountain. “The human skull has a spiritual element, so it’s kind of spooky,” bassist Jared Swilley said. “His name is John. There’s no history on the skull, so who knows who he could have been, but I like to sit up and night and think about that sometimes.” You can also see the skull, John, featured in the awesomely trippy video for "Modern Art."
If you aren't sold after that, then this album just isn't for you. Bottom line: Mark Ronson has turned the Black Lips into a finely oiled garage punk songwriting machine. They are obviously looking for some broad exposure with Arabia Mountain, and it might actually happen. These songs are extremely catchy, funny, great, etc. They have created a polished album without losing their retro charm and originality, and I can't recommend the album enough. Be sure and buy it on June 7!
More reasons to check out the Black Lips:
The album cover is one of the greatest I have seen all year.
If you go to a show, they might make out with each other on stage (fair warning).
I heard Ronson almost died while eating liver sashimi (raw horse) while recording the song "Raw Meat."