Black Lips | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader
comment

Atlanta's favorite messes play the kind of bluesy, ramshackle garage rock you might've heard 40 years ago from the first kids who ever made fun of hippies--on the back cover of their third album, Let It Bloom (In the Red), muddy blue Haight-Ashbury flowers surround a drawing of a hanged man with a crow perched thoughtfully on the end of the gibbet. "Hippie, Hippie, Hoorah"--their snickering take on a song first recorded in 1967 by future film star Jacques Dutronc--borrows some of the orientalist decadence and confused self-loathing of the Animals' version of "House of the Rising Sun," and the whole album sizzles with smart-assed misanthropy so shameless and rambunctious it's almost cute. The longing and menace in the melodies turns even the most rousing choruses into veiled threats, and the ragged guitars are either knife-blade brittle or so fuzzed-out they're barely playing notes. The irrepressible King Khan recorded a chunk of the album at his studio in Berlin, and even on the tunes he didn't touch, his beloved elevator-shaft reverb is all over pretty much everything--the falling-off-a-barstool solos, the hit-or-miss harmonies, the bloody-knuckled drums--plus the mix is spattered with the kind of redlined treble that makes expensive stereos sound like the blown-out dashboard speakers in an old convertible. Tonight the Black Lips warm up for the Dirtbombs, who'll continue to be the best live rock band in America at least until the Oblivians reunite for the Blackout at the end of May; local loose cannons the Functional Blackouts open, celebrating the release of their second LP, The Severed Tongue Speaks for Everyone (Criminal IQ). Fri 3/17, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $12.

Add a comment