Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Album reviews: The Flaming Lips + Buckethead

The Flaming Lips

Warner Bros.

October 13, 2009

In a true change of the pace, weird rockers The Flaming Lips reverted to the strangeness that gained them a boatload of fans on the cult level. When you consider that Zaireeka, the album before their switch to a more standard sound, was an album with four compact discs that when played simultaneously on four audio systems the four CDs would produce a harmonic or juxtaposed sound, you’d understand how normal their weird sound is to them.

Embryonic is definitely weird but ultimately still an accessible album. I’d hate to say that if you jumped on the Lips album with The Soft Bulletin and never became familiar with their earlier work, you might feel a little let down. But those who love the band’s strange, sometimes ambient interludes, freaked out and extended jam-like sessions that are all over the place might fall in love. Or if you love strange things in general you should find a place inside of lead singer Wayne Coyne’s mind.

Definitely favorites for me from the album are tracks like “See the Leaves”, a pulsating psychedelic track and “The Sparrow Looks Up At The Machine”, which feels like a companion sister track to the aforementioned one.

In the category of just plain weird falls “I Can Be A Frog”. Help here is given from Karen O, lead singer of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The lyrical content here reminds me of classic Lips work like “Moth in the Incubator” or “She Don’t Use Jelly” from their Transmissions from the Satellite Heart album.

I’d encourage people to try this album even if they are only familiar with their last three albums in The Flaming Lips’ discography. And it isn’t that the band’s last three albums before this weren’t good, they’re excellent albums and good entry points into the band in general. It’s just that they’re different, and listeners should be prepared for that to able themselves to make the best judgment of the band’s most excellent latest work.


Needle in a Slunk Stack

TDRS Music
September 24, 2009

I’m never going to stop listening to and loving Buckethead. But something is amiss in his last few albums, and this continues into his latest offering, Needle in a Slunk Stack, his twenty-eight studio album.

Don’t get me wrong, like all his albums, this one shreds, and does so in the most experimental ways. And while the technical ability of Buckethead is still to be found, the playful fun of his older work isn’t. Giant Robot was the first album I ever listened to from the guitar virtuoso and that album, unlike his more recent efforts, is one I do find myself going back to more often.

I don’t know, maybe nostalgia is getting to me. Yes, nostalgia of four years. I still just don’t think Buckethead’s latest work is as enjoyable for me as his earlier stuff. I personally don’t think he’s had a truly classic and great album since Inbred Mountain came out back in 2005 and Crime Slunk Scene in 2006, even though he has produced a plethora of work since then.

But don’t take this as a negative review for this latest offering. It’s simply more of what we Buckethead fans love the guy for. He shreds and does so different than anyone else in the game can. And for that, a never ending respect and appreciation of the artist forms, even if at times I yearn for something else.

Perhaps more experimental than most of his other recent work, Needle in a Slunk Stack is vastly different than the most beloved albums from Buckethead such as Colma or Population Override. Tracks like “Interview With The Double Man” and the two-part “Wormwood's Workshop” are most definitely welcome pieces.

The worst thing I could do here is be unappreciative of this artist. He loves music, loves his fans, and shows it by his nonstop releases of explored styles. I’ll take all I can get from Buckethead. Is there a limit to how much one can take? Probably, but I don’t think we’ve reached it yet.

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