LP Review: Black Lips Live @ Third Man


Band: Black Lips
Release: 2012
Label: Third Man Records

[A Side]
1. “Family Tree” (Arabia Mountain)
2. “Stuck In My Mind” (7″)
3. “O Katrina” (Good Bad Not Evil)
4. “Make It” (7″)
5. “Lock and Key” (Good Bad Not Evil)
6. “Modern Art” (Arabia Mountain)

[B Side]
1. “I Saw A Ghost (Lean) (Good Bad Not Evil)
2. “You Must Be A Witch” (Cover)
3. “Fad” (Black Lips!)
4. “Dumpster Dive” (Arabia Mountain)
5. “Drugs” (200 Million Thousand)
6. “I Got A Knife” (Black Lips!)
7. “Bow Down and Die” (Almighty Defenders)

Comments: Here we are at last, another Black Lips live album! Fear not all ye doubters, this one is the real deal! There are no promotional clips that try to sync audio with visuals, but rest assured – this event was recorded live to tape at Third Man Studios on a nice June 11th 2012 evening. So if you can insinuate what I am alluding to, good for you. For others, the Black Lips tried their hand at a live album a half decade back. The result was Los Valientes Del Mundo Nuevo, a helluva record that really brings to life some of the best cuts on Let It Bloom and We Did Not all while maintaining the live energy of one of the best, if not THEE best rock and roll bands the 21st century has been blessed with. Well, live wasn’t live, at least by the traditional definition; a show did occur in Tijuana, some sounds from the show were captured and can be heard (you can’t fake a Mariachi band, can ya?), but a good deal was the result of some ole fashion studio trickery. This according to Cole Alexander himself. Either way, I argue it does not matter one bit. That album is my favorite.

Onto Live @ Thirdman. First things first, the record sounds GREAT. It doesn’t pretend to be a by-the-books Black Lips experience, but it does do a naturally amazing job at becoming one. The stage banter is priceless and genuine – Ian mentions Coors Light and after parties, Cole is random (“fuck me slowly”, “there’s nothing to fear from reading a book!”), and Jared warns against the consumption of fried foods.

The choice of tracks is interesting and fairly sensible, if not down right surprising in some spots. The Lips steer clear of their In The Red material, opting for a barrage of cuts ranging from their very early stuff (“Stuck In My Mind,” “Fad,” I Got A Knife”) to some Good Bad Not Evil staples (“O Katrina,” “I Saw A Ghost”), an inkling of 200 Million Thousand (“Drugs”), and finally some Arabia Mountain classics. For fans of all ages and time periods, Live @ Thirdman showcases in one sitting more of the complexities behind the band’s songwriting. If ya haven’t noticed, the Lips aren’t all about sweeping mosh inciting garage punk. This is where the principal contrast with Los Valientes is at. The Black Lips early stuff sounds just as good now as it did ten years ago and I’d like to say that’s a testament to their aptitude at crafting a keen dirty melody. A tune like “I Saw A Ghost (Lean)” is probably one of the band’s most spirited attempts at going beyond the traditional BL framework and extending it into a three plus minute jam of epic proportions.

The Lips aren’t afraid to reveal their roots, either. They throw in a cover of The Lollipop Shoppe’s “You Must Be A Witch,” famously released on the Pebbles garage/psych compilation of ’60s rarities. I absolutely love the inclusion of “Fad,” which has probably been performed by the band live less than a dozen times in the past few years. One of those times was April 2011 in Pawtucket, Rhode Island at the request of me to Jared. Cole dedicates “Dumpster Diving” to the gospel/country duo of Bill Anderson and Brenda Lee. Another surprise is “I Got A Knife,” which embodies the multiple vocal simplicity that dominated those old recordings (“we wrote this before we knew what a guitar solo was”). Finally, the band ends with a cover of their own song as Almighty Defenders – “Bow Down and Die”. This track has been a closing staple in their live performances for a couple of years now. A great sing-a-long to end things as only Black Lips know best.

Live @ Third Man is a record to put on when you want to sit down and appreciate a genius band. Whereas Los Valientes has you front and center in the pit, Live @ Third Man places you back stage behind the band. You aren’t being continuously thrown around. You are admiring and dancing at your own rate. Pick this essential up!


LP Review: “Zoo Traffic” (Yankee Power)

Artist: Yankee Power
Release Date: August 21, 2012
Track list :
1) Adopted Love Doll
2) Swing
3) Wrong Kind
4) Given Into Contrary
5) Dr. Daisy
6) Fuzz Minisery
7) Because It’s Hard
8) Stray
9) Real Folk
10) Modern Change
11) Shiver Of Sharks
12) Dear Old Friend
13) Two Quarters
14) Open Breast

Comments: I met half of Yankee Power in the year Two Thousand and Six. Mr. Tom Calvert (guitar/vocals) and Mr. CJ Kanouff (drums) were WHSTV production icons, legends. So, when I heard that these dudes were unleashing some jams, I had to see what all the fuss was about. Now, we are in the year Two Thousand and Twelve, and just recently I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Jeff Gallagher (guitar/vocals), who is nothing but a straight shooter, a real charming man. I have yet to meet Mr. Mark Fallon (Bass/Vocals), but I am confident he is an upstanding gentlemen.
Okay now, I listen to a lot of music, way too much music. In fact, as I am writing this, my ears are splitting because I have been blasting tunes on my ipod and from my computer all day. I can’t live without it, and with this I have come to accept that I will be deaf before I’m fifty (hopefully, hopefully not thirty), but I’m optimistic that by that time technology will bring all sorts of fun gadgets to keep my musical intake flowin’. Working on this site, I certainly come across TONS of bands, but few are as diverse as Yankee Power. That’s not a stock line, that’s the truth.  Zoo Traffic is a colorful album filled with all sorts of styles, it constantly switches up its sound, yet maintains an overall distinct character, unique to Yankee Power.

The opener, “Adopted Love Doll,” (which is accompanied by a hilarious video that can be seen below) is a savage, powerhouse, quasi-heavy metal pop song that brings to mind everyone from Andrew W.K. to Alice In Chains (especially in some of the vocals) to many of the garage/party rock bands we champion on this site. Point being, ‘Love Doll’ is a fast rocker, guaranteed to get you headbanging and fist pumping or else you’ve sniffed too much glue and should perhaps stay at home next Saturday night. Definitely a contender for my new alarm clock; the song just has that let’s get up and go! motivational quality to it. I also can’t forget to mention the outstanding drum work of CJ Kanouff – simple, but the song’s driving force for sure.

The next number, “Swing,” is a dramatic change of pace in which the band slows things down a bit.  On “Swing,” we hear a much more folk/country oriented sound for the band, which appears frequently throughout this album. I truly appreciate the vocals of Jeff Gallagher, the dude has an amazing voice, but what I really dig is his range. Just like the band’s overall sound, Jeff’s vocals are never quite the same – track by track. He is able to scream and shout, like on the album opener, and yet on other songs, such as “Dear Old Friend,” his voice is soothing and soft, drawing comparisons to John Lennon and Paul Simon, at least to me.

But, Jeff isn’t the only top notch singer here. Often fellow guitarist Tom Calvert delivers some fantastic vocals as well. My favorite song with Tom’s lead vocals is the country fueled ballad, “Real Folk,” which I find equally humorous and sincere, and I mean that in the best possible way. It reminds me of Ween in this manner, which is awesome because Ween is incredible. Two great moments on Zoo Traffic include dual vocals from Jeff and Tom on “Wrong Kind” and “Stray.” In a sane world, the latter would be a top 40 hit. But, that’s whatever… music charts are silly and irrelevant. “Stray” is a beautiful pop song and one of the catchiest I’ve heard all year. Just further evidence of how powerful these songs really are. I must have listened to “Stray” at least forty or fifty times by now, maybe more (time I could have spent selecting the president and other political scum, completing homework assignments, wacking off [well, moreso anyway], among other wholesome activities.) But, NO! this song just hooked me in and won’t let me go.

Another cut that runs deep, so deep, so deep, puts her ass to sleep, is “Because It’s Hard,” sung by bassist Mark Fallon.  This ditty is a total stand out and is the unofficial Amish Anthem. Whenever I hear this, folksy, Celtic  Poguesian tune, I picture images of Amish men and women, and children smiling, laughing, working, and reflecting the light they have come to know. This year, I am blasting this song on repeat during Thanksgiving Dinner, just for the Amish. Amish Rock. Amish Core 2015, get on that bro.

I can’t recommend Yankee Power’s Zoo Traffic enough; I have had a real pleasure excessively listening to and reviewing this puppy. I can truly say this album opened up my tastebuds, which is a rare feat as some miscreants have noted in the past. This LP is definitely a twenty twelve gem and continues the trend I’ve noticed with other twenty twelve favorites of mine (Fat Creeps, The Barbaras, etc.) which is basically creating such strong songs that when you listen to the music it feels more like a greatest hits compilation than simply one album. My next mission in life is to see all the Yankee Power hits on the live stage! To quote the Sneaky Pinks, I can’t wait.

Check out their music here! http://theyankeepower.bandcamp.com/