Local Wire

The Black Lips @ The Rhythm Room

The Black Lips are at a crossroads. After 2009's 200 Million Thousand, the murky, messy bummer of a record that stalled their career, the longtime Atlanta psych-garage band suddenly appeared at risk of becoming a novelty act known more for their chemically fueled R-rated on- and offstage antics (which included, but were not limited to, literally getting chased out of India) than their music. Perhaps as a statement of seriousness about their future as legit recording artists, the Lips hired British hitmaker Mark Ronson (who helmed Amy Winehouse's breakout, Back to Black) to hasten their call-up to the big leagues. The result, the recently released Arabia Mountain, is a success — depending on your point of view. Longtime Lips fans who like the band for its off-kilter homages to Roky Erickson and other Nuggets-era garage acts can breathe a sigh of relief — the record is a tighter, hookier (but barely less rough-edged) extension of 2007's excellent Good Bad Not Evil. Expect a collective shrug, however, from those still awaiting the band's long-anticipated breakout; on Arabia, the Lips fail to (or choose not to) significantly up the ante on songwriting or creative vision. While the big time continues to await The Black Lips' arrival (if it ever comes), the rest of us will just have to help keep the party going.

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Jay Bennett
Contact: Jay Bennett