Black Lips - Satan’s Graffiti or God’s Art? (VICE)
Hellraisers are back with a cauldron of blood-curdling Americana
When a true rock 'n' roll band makes it to the eighth album with minds and goolies generally intact, you know that they have already carved a deep and bloody groove into the well of rock 'n' roll. Forever to echo back up into the human psyche for years to come, like all the greats.
Atlanta garage-psych-rock outfit Black Lips released eighth LP Satan’s Graffiti or Gods Artover the weekend and dropped a raucous video for new single Can't Hold On. The album harks back to a more classic Black Lips sound but with a broader dynamic and pallet at work. The paradigmatic Black Lip guitars snarl like only jagged buzzsaws can. The clanging distorted screams will leave impressions upon your physical being.
Sean Lennon held the producer reigns, recording the band at his compound in upstate New York. In an interview with Noisey Cole Alexander talks about how working in isolation in rural upstate with Lennon really pushed them as musicians and songwriters. The distraction of the nightly party scene in New York banished, giving them space to really get into it. Cole talks about how Sean Lennon helped them approach this album from a more musical theory standpoint than is usual for them. Something has clearly been invoked.
Black Lips have a few changes on deck turning them into a five piece. At the new helm are saxophonist Zumi Rosrow and drummer Oakley Munson. A reappearance from guitarist Jack Hines for the first time since 2004 too. Even Sean’s mother, Yoko Ono has climbed aboard with some backing vocals and apparent zen vibes. You can hear her bolster the distorted screams on Occidental Front. The new line up and producer have roused something of the classic Black Lips sound and energy. Classic yet heavily evolved into a wider palette of sleazy Americana. The production throughout this 18 track album is inspired. It manages to balance somewhere very sweet between hi-fidelity and lo-fidelity, even with all the Velvet Underground-Esq pawn-shop jangles.
The high point is single Can't Hold On, see video below where there is lots of dressing up and flouncing around. Rock 'n' roll is clearly not dead. Not when you have these guys making huge garage-psych stompers like this. Crystal Night, an experimental take on 50's rock 'n' roll is a standout track, even with Alvin and the Chipmunk's style chorus BV's it still sounds Spector-esq. Rebel Intuition has an uneasy country music made for an exorcism type of feel. Again doing what Black Lip's do the best, taking something quite safe like golden era 1950's rock'n'roll and turning it into something altogether more dangerous.