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Sunday November 23rd 2014

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Ears & Fingers 3/13/14

by Jason Leger

Black Lips-Underneath the Rainbow

Unconcerned, freewheeling, raucous and dark are all words that popped into my head while listening to “Underneath the Rainbow,” the new LP from Atlanta’s Black Lips. The band has earned quite a reputation for their antics, not only on and off stage, but these cats were scaring people before they were musicians. Two of the members were expelled from their high school during their senior year simply because of heightened fears following the Columbine massacre. These personal lives led to a collective known for onstage crudeness, nudity, urination, vomiting, fireworks and to a lesser degree, remote controlled cars.

The really impressive thing about Black Lips is their ability to capture the energy and effectiveness of a live show on tape, with their highly distorted guitars, sing-along choruses and backwoods lyrical content. However, it definitely doesn’t hurt to have a fellow garage rock impresario behind the board running production. Patrick Carney, drummer for blues-rock goliath The Black Keys, captured all the sounds on this new record and helped guide the band toward a vibe that is much more grown up, while maintaining the swagger of a garage rock band.

The starting point for the album is ‘Drive-By Buddy,’ which I think is a great introduction if you’re not familiar with the band. It’s light and fun, and not too much to take in all at once. While tempos and subject matters change throughout the course of the 34 minutes of music, the mood is very consistent and can maintain your attention, simply by staying level and never becoming tedious.

Bands always want to find new ways of sticking out in their audience’s minds long after their performances are over or their songs are no longer being played. Black Lips have come up with a pretty genius plan to market this new album and tour: they want to connect it with the sense of smell. This is from a press release regarding the tour:
“Recognizing the powerful effect of scent on emotion and memory, the band worked with a team of olfactory scientists to craft a band-specific scent that will be disseminated throughout the duration of their shows, evoking ‘ocean,’ ‘cedar,’ ‘moon,’ ‘denim,’ ‘squid ink,’ ‘fire’ and ‘semen’ (if the man only ate fresh plums for about a week) among other aromas.”
I feel like this is innovative, to say the least. Fortunately for us, Black Lips are bringing this tour to party on the beach with us for Hangout Fest in May. Hopefully, the beach air won’t kill the plum smell. “Underneath the Rainbow” is out March 18 via Vice Records.

If You Haven’t Heard: Kevin Drew

Chances are, even if you haven’t heard the name Kevin Drew, you are more familiar than you may realize with the Canadian singer-songwriter’s work. Drew is one of the primary pillars of the Arts & Crafts collective Broken Social Scene, along with his pal Brendan Canning. Now that BSS has been placed on the backburner (hopefully not permanently), Drew, as well as Canning and obviously Feist, is focused on his solo career. “Darlings,” Drew’s second solo album and follow up to 2007’s “Spirit If…” is out on March 18. Based solely on the powerful single ‘Good Sex,’ this stands to mark new ground for the songwriter. He set out to make something that was pure and free of tricks, which could traverse the worlds of love and sex, something we can all connect to. “This record is a celebration of memories,” Drew said. Odds are there will be some painful ones involved. “Darlings” is out March 18 via Arts & Crafts Records.