Listen to Keath Mead, Please

kmEver feel like listening to the Velvet Undergound, yet you wanted something even more warbled and warped? Then perhaps you’re going to enjoy spending some time jamming to Keath Mead, who seems to have reimagined “Sweet Jane” in a more pristine fashion, yet wrapped it in some oddity of fuzz and scrambled tape samples.  It’s a track that achieves so much in so many ways that I’m pretty sure I’ll just kick it with this song for the rest of the day.  I’m really excited to see what he does with his album Sunday Dinner come February 24th (Company Record Label).

FT5: Ladies of Classic Rock

Who says the guys here at the ATH never write about the ladies? We decided it was about time to give those that have influenced countless modern female musicians their just due. From flamboyant front-women to mystical singer-songwriters, today’s top 5 is an unranked collaborative effort of the ATH staff. Each writer was given the opportunity to talk about their favorite lady and everyone had their own criteria. Follow the jump for our mini-shrine to the ladies of classic rock and be sure to share your favorite when you’re done.
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FT5: Hangover Albums

In retrospect, it was the free tequila at that third South By Southwest party that did it. And there was that energy drink you downed, despite the fact you’d never heard of it (hey, it was free). Of course the Southern Comfort at party five didn’t help either. Nor did the eleven beers between party one and party seven (3 micro-brews, 2 Shiners, 5 PBRs, 1 new crap beer Budweiser is pushing). The fact that this unholy blend of alcohol is now fighting it out with the bratwurst and street pizza you consumed yesterday is only complicating matters. Stomach hates you. Brain not functioning. Unidentified bruises abound. Water and aspirin cannot save you. All this and your friend has the nerve to say: “I’m not hung over at all, I feel great!” Resist the urge to punch him in his stupid face. Go and put on a nice soft record. Follow the jump for 5 Albums that will help you cope with a hangover.
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The Black Lips – 200 Million Thousand

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Rating: ★★★½ ·

The Black Lips have recently gotten more acclaim, or seemingly so, for their exploits off the stage.  They’re followed around like the Paris Hilton of the indie world, but the questions that follow should really pertain to the quality of their music. It’s clear that their a ramshackle bunch of lads, but when that carries over to their music, can we follow along? 200 Million Thousand attempts to answer that question.

It’s really hard to find a ground from which to approach this album.  Sure, the obvious psychedelia surrounds the band, not to mention the garage quality that has been there from the beginning of the band’s climb into our record collections. All these qualities point to an album worthy of critical acclaim, but only if the band can bring it all together.

Here, they don’t quite execute.  There are some clear misses on the album, such as the vocal quality.  Every time this band releases an album, it seems as if they shy away from the singing being a focal point. When you come across a song like “Starting Over” or “Old Man,” it seems as if they might unleash some hidden vocal talent, but its just not there.  The rest is hazily smothered in shadowy production, disguising the vocal for the most part.

Then, you come face to face with the fact that the band finally seems to have gotten a cohesive sound together, but the sound just doesn’t quite seem original.  It’s shrouded in the past of bands like The Velvet Underground and The Rolling Stones. Are they trying to be ironic by miming some of the most heralded acts around or is this an honest representation of who the band truly is as a group?  The answer is certainly difficult to come by, so one must take the songs into account.

“Drugs” is a California surf-pop romper, fueled by the twang of the guitar.  Even with the shotty vocal effects, you still can feel the catchiness of the song as the group sings in unison. And of course, that is followed by the super “Starting Over,” which may very well be one of the best songs that we hear all year.  There is an inexplicable quality to the song that wins you over as soon as the guitar comes in during the opening moment.

Interestingly, there is also a soul tinge on this record, which may display some of the more banal qualities of the group as a whole, but the power of such songs is undeniable.  “I’ll Be With You” is the song you expect to hear when watching a scene from the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance.  It’s got that classic Buddy Holly guitar sound, but with a more juvenile approach to songwriting.  It’s earnest, and it deserves appreciation.

At the end of the album, you have to take the Black Lips for precisely what they are: a gaggle of ruffians eager to write soulful psychedelia that they hope wins your heart.  It might not be the most original piece of work to ever come our way, but rest assured there are a bunch of songs here worthy of high praise.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/10-old-man.mp3]

Download: The Black Lips – Old Man [MP3]