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Black Lips – 200 Million Thousand

It seems like Black Lips just don’t give a fuck, judging by the tales of French kissing, pissing into-one’s own mouth and general nudity involved in their repertoire of stage antics.

In February the boys had a tour in India cancelled when, after a brief make-out session with bassist Jared Swilley,guitarist Cole Alexander mooned the crowd and then attempted to play guitar with his penis. (If you can even connect to the now infamously popular link, a video archive of the event is available through VBS: Once you get in, pause the video and let it completely before you view it.)


This display forced the band to flee under the cover of night after they were informed that they were going to be jailed for indecency—and Indian jails are quite scary and dangerous. So the band went on the lam; and after several days of not even contacting their label Vice Records, they finally turned up safe and sound in London. Poor bastards never even got to ride an elephant.

With the release of 200 Million Thousand, their fifth LP, it’s obvious Black Lips passionately embrace their art and their message. Though that art is lo-fi psychedelic garage rock with drunken, stagger vocals, and their messages revolve around drugs and debauchery, they are clearly and whole-heartedly living free.

This sounds like something you’d expect from San Francisco or Berkeley, but Black Lips hail from Atlanta, and their musical approach carries with it a very clear influence of southern blues. 200MS is the grittiest release yet from these guys. I’m pretty sure I can actually hear a studio-effect click and pop effect that makes “Take My Heart” sound like an old LP record.

And on the 60’s bop “Drugs,” it warms our cockles to hear Cole Alexander lovingly articulate the “Smokin’ that BC Buddha”. Not that it’s the best—though it’s damn good—the stand-out track is “The Drop I Hold,” which either uses a sample, or plays instrumentally just like one (we hope it’s the latter), and Alexander summons his inner MC.

One of the best albums to drop so far this year, this is one that could actually be worth a real live trip to the record store so you can actually hold it in your hand. The sweet packaging includes a poster and booklet with shots of the band from days of yore and an ode penned by electronic experimentalist Baby Gusty in Ghana. And of course, do not miss the live shows!

Check out the pics and review of the Black Lips at SXSW 2009 (Cedar Street Courtyard).

The group plays Black Sheep in Colorado Springs April 20 and the Bluebird in Denver 21.


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