Review Summary: Good? Bad?....Actually Pretty Good
The year is 1965 and a garage band called The Sonics released their landmark debut “Here Are The Sonics”. The music was fast and dark and laid the groundwork for the punk explosion of the late 70’s. Fast forward to the year 1999, music had changed dramatically. Beatle mania had come and gone, disco was long since dead, the punk explosion gave way to bands like The Clash and the Ramones, Elvis had died, Van Halen had just said goodbye to their third lead singer, ska had taken over the country for 2 short years and the country was desperately trying to get through another Sugar Ray album. But In Atlanta Georgia, one band was able to look past all that and draw inspiration from the Sonics and brought the dark punk garage attitude back into relevance.
The Black Lips had been touring relentlessly and putting out albums long before “Good Bad Not Evil” came out. They had established a cult following based on their sporadic and unpredictable live shows where it wasn’t common to see the band vomiting, urinating, and fighting all in front of your very eyes. There’s even an infamous story where they whipped out their penises and strummed their guitars with them. But it wasn’t till “God Bad Not Evil” that the band seemed to click for me. The songs are dark sounding and have an energy that evokes excitement in the listener, the tell take sign of a good garage punk band.
“Good Bad Not Evil” draws heavily from 60’s music, even the title derives from lyrics from “Give him a Great Big Kiss’ by the Shangri-La’s, the songs rely on heavy guitar and booming drums that compliment singer Cole Alexander’s haunting voice. In fact the first time I heard “Veni Vidi Vici” I was convinced my friend had stumbled onto some sort of underground 60’s punk band and was even more excited to learn how recent the band was. The chorus of “It feels Alright” is super catchy thanks to the harmonies the band produces when they all share singing responsibilities. The albums best track, the humorous and indisputably catchy “Bad Kids” gave the band some more attention when it was used on the soundtrack to 500 Days of Summer and showed that The Black Lips can also write upbeat pop hits.
Another thing that struck about this band was that their songs are more than just easy to sing, the lyrics are fantastic and tell stories that rope the listener in. “O Katrina” discusses the impact of Hurricane Katrina and the Wild Horses-esq “How do you tell a Child that someone has died” is simple yet strangely beautiful as the lyrics bounce across the country style guitar work. Other Key tracks are “Cold Hands” and “Transcendental Light” which contains a secret track about 3 and a half minutes in. Overall a really cool album that is certainly worth a listen.