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Tag: Flaming Lips

Eminem – Recovery

by on Jul.05, 2010, under Good Music

When we last heard from Eminem, he was feeding us shit.  Not in the way we had come to appreciate from him, either.  With Relapse, we dined on a hallow man’s self loathing shit.  We topped it off with shitty, uninspired beats.  As someone who had previously looked upon Eminem as a mighty figure with the potential to spark a tangible revolution, I was crushed.

When I read that he had planned to release Relapse 2, I figured it might be time to end my fanship with him.  It seemed like the most sensible thing to do for both of us.  I still checked in from time to time to make sure he was holding up.  I read that Relapse 2 was not coming out the way he had anticipated, musically.  Poor guy.

But maybe not.

Relapse 2 was so different from the initial intent, that it ceased to be Relapse 2.  Rather it mutated in Recovery. I had to listen.  I just had to sample a few tracks at least.  Okay.  I just decided to start at the beginning and let it roll.  As the music pressed on, we become acquainted with  a new Marshall Mathers – one who has had a massive weight lifted from his shoulders.  With the inclusion of strong beats, experimental departures and lyrics that are as positive as they are cutting, I felt that a massive weight had been lifted from me as well.  His lyrical denouncing of Relapse also helped.  In any case, Eminem has now returned to his rightful place in my heart.

The growth between Relapse and Recovery is immense and multifaceted.  He acknowledges a rock bottom he has known well and I mostly believe him when he reminds us of his Phoenix-like escape from that pit.  He has regained his ability to be direct, lucid and cognizant.  I think we all like him so much better when he is on top of his game.

The music, too, is far more expansive than that on Relapse or its predecessor, Encore.  There seems to be a greater focus on detail.  The occasional melodic lifts and song-singy vocal cadences give the impression that this album was designed with music in mind – not just beats.  Indeed, these songs do sometimes channel some eclectic musical greats.  “You’re Never Over” sounds fresh, triumphant and synthed out, similar to the style of B.o.B. “25 to Life,” at least musically, sounds like an outtake from Andre 3000’s The Love Below“Cinderella Man” smacks of something we may have heard from Kool Keith – or is that Gil Scott-Heron?  Oh…and listen to “Space Bound.” Isn’t that a fucking Flaming Lips song?

Don’t get me wrong.  They are not all winners.  It’s irritating, too, because it could have been a perfect offering, but for it’s girth.  Rappers just don’t trim the fat these days.  Instead they would rather fill up an entire 70+ minute CD with every single thing they possibly can, quality and consistency be damned.  I know a lot of teenyboppers and sports bar morons will disagree with me, but Eminem really really really really really really really should have cut “No Love,” a track featuring Lil Wayne.  (Yes. I am aware the inclusion of Lil Wayne guarantees this track will not only not be cut, but will likely be the next single. Groan.) If Wayne’s boring, monotone, machismo “rapping” is not enough to put you off, consider that the whole track relies on a sample of “What Is Love” by Haddaway.  That’s barely excusable in the name of irony, let alone “serious” music production.  This is easily the worst “song” of the album and perhaps 2010.

I’ll let it go, though, because most everything surrounding that turd island is purposeful, if not brilliant.  Quite possibly as good as Idlewild, the last one from our beloved Outkast (though Outkast did utilize a better array of guest appearances, with Lil Wayne in common.) There are no skits on this disc, either.  While Eminem’s skits have generally always been concise and amusing, he was correct to keep them away.  He’s a bit more serious this time, and it suits him well.

Recovery makes me cheer for Marshall Mathers yet again.  I am genuinely happy that he is doing better and I hope it only lifts up from here.  Evolved, he can now affect an audience in new ways – far beyond shock, entering into additional realms of unabashed enlightenment.

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Flaming Lips new one, Embryonic, out tomorrow…and very inexpensive

by on Oct.12, 2009, under Good Music

Flaming Lips - embryonicNormally I wouldn’t make a whole new post just to tell you an album is coming out today. I would think my readership to be competent enough to stay on top of their own interests. However, this one deserves a bit of special attention.

As you probably read in the title of this post, the new Flaming Lips disc, Embryonic is out tomorrow. Okay great. The additional excellent news, however, is that the price is down 43% from the suggested retail here in the final hours before release.

That means you can order the whole disc for just $7.99 from Amazon. (The expanded version is $16.99.) That’s less than what you would pay if you bought a download for each song. Additionally, this is one of those records that you don’t want to listen to with space between the tracks.

Click here to read my review of Embryonic.

Click here to purchase Embryonic for CHEAP.

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The Flaming Lips – Embryonic

by on Sep.17, 2009, under Good Music

Flaming Lips - embryonicHey kids! It’s that time of your life again! The Flaming Lips have a new album! Where would the Lips go this time? Though ever innovative, they seemed to grow less discombobulated and more processed with each release. At War with the Mystics was okay, but it lacked the pathos of Yoshimi. When I read frontman Wayne Coyne’s unwarranted, assholish jabs at Arcade Fire and Beck, I grew weary. When “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song” ended up in a salad dressing commercial, I grew worried. It seemed like any direction they could go was going to hurt them, and ultimately myself (and presumably other fickle fans). Which door would they choose?

I’m glad to announce that we can all breathe easier now. The Flaming Lips did the right thing. Embryonic embodies all of the best attributes of the dirty psychedelica we could only taste on past releases. Where At War with the Mystics sometimes depressingly embraced a 70’s nostalgia, Embryonic takes us back to the moment in the 60’s when there was no nostalgia because nostalgia was our parent’s bullshit. And though it’s underpinnings are certainly reminiscent of the better parts of that decade, the whole of the thing is definitively fresh and futuristic – the whole of the thing is definitively Lips.

Coyne seems to have taken a step into the shadows on this one. Virtually gone are his upper range, shiny happy vocals, replaced by effect drenched call outs from some black hole. Here it does not seem to be his words that affect, so much as his voice, itself. Finally, it has come into its own as an instrument unto itself, rather than overt narration. It’s not that his positive musings are no longer present. They’re there. It just seems that the message is now being conveyed by the entirety of the music as its own cohesive unit. It’s expansive and reckless, giving the listener the feeling that they just got together and did the damn thing rather than wanking through some diplomatic process of what sounded good where. The record overimpedes and distorts all over the place, and it sounds fantastic.

Wisely and fittingly, The Lips decided to unveil their new monster on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report. Performing as a six piece, they tore through the album’s opener, “Convinced of the Hex.” As if that wasn’t enough, they are also streaming the whole thing on Stephen Colbert’s website, colbertnation.com. It’s only there until Monday, September 21st, so check it out while you can. If you don’t, you may have to wait until its official release on October 13th.

Here is a tracklisting for those who want to keep up:

1. “Convinced of the Hex” – 3:56
2. “The Sparrow Looks Up at the Machine” – 4:14
3. “Evil” – 5:38
4. “Aquarius Sabotage” – 2:11
5. “See the Leaves” – 4:24
6. “If” – 2:05
7. “Gemini Syringes” – 3:41
8. “Your Bats” – 2:35
9. “Powerless” – 6:57
10. “The Ego’s Last Stand” – 5:40
11. “I Can Be a Frog” (featuring Karen O) – 2:14
12. “Sagittarius Silver Announcement” – 2:59
13. “Worm Mountain” (featuring MGMT) – 5:21
14. “Scorpio Sword” – 2:02
15. “The Impulse” – 4:06
16. “Silver Trembling Hands” – 3:58

And not streamed are two final tracks:

17. “Virgo Self-Esteem Broadcast” – 3:45
18. “Watching the Planets” (featuring Karen O) – 5:16

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Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse – Dark Night of the Soul

by on Sep.09, 2009, under Good Music

darknightofthesoulMaybe you have heard and maybe you have not.  The deal with this album is supposedly as follows…

Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse get together with a steady slew of above average vocalists and record an album.  Enter David Lynch providing photography for an accompanying, limited edition, one-hundred page book and DAMN.  This is  going to be  completely bad ass.

All systems ready to go until mega-recording label, EMI, pulls the plug entirely for some undisclosed legal reasons.  How does the ever-innovative Danger Mouse handle this little snafu?  He releases everything but the music – including the CD.  Once released, it will actually be a writable CD-R (and packaging) which will be branded with the label, “For Legal Reasons, enclosed CD-R contains no music. Use it as you will.”

The idea here is for interested listeners to seek and pirate the music, burning it to the CD-R and circumventing EMI altogether.  This is not a difficult task already, as it’s been leaked through all the standard bit torrent sites.  A minute and a half of looking around, and it should turn up somewhere.  For those not familiar with torrenting, NPR has a stream of the disc, which you can access by clicking here.

All that aside, what of the music?

Well, the touch of Sparklehorse is definitively there.  In the case of Danger Mouse, it’s a bit more ambiguous.  Danger Mouse is a pretty damned expansive artist and producer.  He makes up one half of the cartoony Gnarls Barkley, and has also produced albums for the likes of Gorillaz, Beck
and The Black Keys.  He initially earned his notoriety for The Grey Album, a mash-up of Jay-Z’s The Black Album with The Beatles’ The White Album. All that behind him, his Midas touch on Dark Night of the Soul is there.  It’s just difficult to figure out which specific elements are affected.  This is possibly to his credit, though.  We know a Van Gogh without having to analyze the direction of his brush strokes, right?

The songs all stand alone just fine.  Side by side, however, there seems to be a bigger picture to the thing as sometimes it is difficult to tell that one song has ended and another has begun, but for the change of vocalist.  And how about those vocalists?  The Flaming Lips contribute to the ambient, Phil-Collins-if-Phil-Collins-was-cool(er) opener, “Revenge.”  Frank Black and Iggy Pop lay it down on two of the more rocking tracks (“Angel’s Harp” and “Pain”).  Julian Casablancas of The Strokes chimes in on “Little Girl” and James Mercer of The Shins lends his voice to “Insane Lullaby.”  Suzanne Vega and Vic Chesnutt rise from relative obscurity to sing on “The Man Who Played God” and “Grim Augury.”  Then there is David Lynch, himself, popping up on the eerie title track, as well as “Star Eyes (I Can’t Catch It).”

Musically, it mostly compliments Lynch’s macabre visual style.  There are, however, moments on Dark Night of the Soul, which are anything but dark.  Sometimes these moments last for two or three song stretches.  Sometimes these songs sound so colorful and touch something so intangibly comfortable (despite their lyrical content), that a person might want to shit himself in gleeful abandon.  And yet again, it all works as a rather well arranged whole.

Though it may seem difficult to top Gorillaz Demon Days or anything by Gnarls Barkley, for that matter, Dark Night of the Soul may resonate as Danger Mouse‘s finest production yet.  Likewise for Sparklehorse.  It is certainly their deepest.

 
 
The whole disc is freely streaming on NPR’s website. Currently, it’s the only legal way a person can listen to it. Click here to check it out.

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