The Flaming Lips are Go Manifesto

Anybody catch The Flaming Lips on CBS's Late Late Show last night, playing their single "Do You Realize?" (from their current album "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots")? How about the same song being featured in a new Hewlett-Packard TV commercial? Anybody see one of these who's never heard The Lips before? If so, what did you think?

IMO The Lips are, bar none, the finest rock band - artistically speaking - in the world right now, and the only currently-active group or artist still in their prime (and maybe just entering it their case) whose best work I would classify as being up there near the cream of the all-time greats. And it's funny to think that they came out of Oklahoma City, of all places, over fifteen years ago as a charmingly amatuerish and noisily raw poppish hardcore band with a humorous streak, and have steadily evolved (what other band or artist in the field can you name who has put out ten albums, each one a clear advancement beyond the last?) into the sublimely tuneful and powerfully lyrical art-pop group they are today, seamlessly mixing equal parts experimentalism and classicism in a sound that's uniquely original and yet timeless in its sheer creativity.

They are lauded around the globe as The Best Band In The World by the international rock press (surpassing even Radiohead I think), yet when they're not touring with Beck as they are now, I can still see them play in a reasonably-sized club gig in their own country. Maybe this will be changing now, I don't know, but if they do finally move up the rock food chain, they will have deserved it long ago (their only semi-hit came back in '93 with the hilarious "She Don't Use Jelly").

To me, it's The Flaming Lips, not Nirvana or The Smashing Pumpkins, who in the end truly represent the possibility for the ultimate triumph to be secretly carried out on behalf of America's seminal underground 'indie-rock' explosion of the 80's. Nirvana signaled the movement's artistic death at the same time that it hailed its commercial breakthrough, while The Lips - there before Nirvana, still here (and growing) after - continue as the genuine surviving spawn and blossoming link to Rock's continuum (now reduced as it is to the desicated thread of an art form whose golden age was in twilight even long prior to today's utter [and utterly disgusting] industry/market squelching or co-opting of any remaining original artisitc impulse that kids raised on MTV and video games can possibly muster) of dynamic creative expressionism that exploded for the second time in the 60's and then again (and for the last time, but mostly underground) a decade later.

Whereas Nirvana exuded the youthful (even if realistic) rage of nihilism, and the frustration of (and eventual defeat by) unavoidable compromise, The Pumpkins the fascination of mere narcissism, and bands like Pearl Jam the comforts of conventional arena-rock (oops, better make that 'alt-rock' nowadays) career-mongering, The Flaming Lips have quietly metamorphosed from their earlier ironist and obscurist leanings into an encouraging exultation of optimism and celebration of universiality not seen at this level since the early days of U2, but without the preachiness, humorlessness, or social-commentary pomposity. In fact, the bands whose unfulfilled larger-market promise I see The Lips as potentially inheriting more successfully than they could manage in their time - and with more artistic integrity than the grunge cohort - are the original casualties of indie-rock's doomed flirtation with the big-time, bands such as Sonic Youth, The Replacements, Husker Du, and Dinosaur Jr.

Can I get a witness from any members who are fans? I know that perhaps not many audiophools have this kind of taste in music (and none of The Lips' recordings are audiophilic aurally), but anybody who loves the legacy Rock at its best has given us as a truly modern art form and has a yearning for the adventurous and the expressive, could definitely do worse than to bend an ear to this most accomplished yet promising group of middle-aged bubbling-unders we have on Earth today. For the curious uninitiated, good places to start are either their present release mentioned at the top, their previous album (and breakthrough record, sound- and approach-wise) "The Soft Bulletin", or for those with a good tolerance for guitar-noise, 1995's great "Clouds Taste Metallic".
I like the Flaming Lips quite a bit and have for ten years or so. Unfortunately, Wayne Coyne's voice still grates on me after extended listening (like a bad Neil Young, if that's possible). I still find myself getting a little bored by the sameness of The Soft Bulletin, but I think they added much more variety to Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robot. I don't think I'd say that they're the "finest rock band artistically" (there are so many), but I do find them to be consistently inventive, interesting, and always improving, which says a lot these days.

I would recommend fans of sonically adventerous music like Pink Floyd (earlier Floyd?), Radiohead, Brian Eno, etc. check them out. They are looser and more "Indie" sounding than any of those people, but someone looking for something new might appreciate them quite a bit. In general, I do agree with most of what Zaikesman said. I'm obviously not as big of a fan of the band as he is, but I really respect them and think they are in peak form. They are not a band that will appeal to everyone, but most people who like them, love them.
Great post Zaikesman, and I most whole-heartedly agree. The Flaming Lips are great. I agree with Phild that I find the added variety of Yoshimi... to be preferable to The Soft Bulletin. They're not for everyone, and they're not for every mood, but they've been as creative and evolving as any band over the past 10-15 years.

I find it ironic that they're most recognized for "She Don't Use Jelly". Now they're getting recognized for their part in the recent commercial. I guess that all goes with the role of being off-beat.
An interesting 'audiophile' aside here: if you can get hold of the vinyl of 'bulletin', do so and compare it with the cd. I found a copy ($11 for a double album!) at tower and it's really quite different sounding than the cd. I don't think it's just the format either - it's almost as if it's a different mix. I've always found the cd to be somewhat distorted, bass-heavy and over-saturated. The vinyl is still somewhat bass-heavy, but overall I prefer it to the cd. btw, I'm not an anti-digital fanatic either; in fact, a lot of music these days suffers when they convert it to analog (I'm guessing it's because it was digital all down the line up to that point...).
And yes, I think they're great, especially the latest stuff. Up there with the other great truly creatives in the indie category: Radiohead, Badly Drawn Boy, Sigur Ros, and Suzanne Vega.
I've only heard a bit of the "Lips" but have liked what i have heard. Does anyone know of a good source to find their stuff on vinyl that will not cost $25 ??? From what i've heard, this is the kind of stuff that will sound MUCH better on vinyl than on CD. Sean
Sean, the only stuff I have is on CD, but you could check out for more info. If you like, mail me and I can burn you a little comp disk so you can see if you'd be interested in hearing or buying more.

I find it interesting that Phild and Kthomas both think "Bulletin" is too samey-sounding compared to "Yoshimi" - I thought TSB was a bit all over the map and disjointed as an album (although the alternate remixes included don't help the flow), whereas YBTPR sounds more streamlined and of a piece to me (if slightly less distinctive). I initially found TSB incredibly exciting when I first heard it at the time it was released, but YBTPR disappointed me straight out of the box, then grew on me steadily over a couple of weeks, until it finally hit me like a ton of bricks. Both marvelously high-quality pieces of (hard) work, both indispensable.
Well...hate to sound like an old fart...but I have been a Lips fan since my college days in the mid 80' Fargo,ND no less...and every since I heard "Jesus shootin' Heroin" I have been hooked...I still think their best consistent LP is "Oh my Gawd"...lets just say..."chemical" experimentation probably had something to do with it...if your a fan of deep garage is alot of twisted fun...also...if you enjoy this type of sound...check out English band from roughly the same period...out of print...and more straight forward gargage 60s/70s retro...but plenty of cool guitar solos...great headphone band...start with "Fade Out"...cheers
Phasecorrect, I'm even a little older and fartier than you, and one of the main things about The Lips that impresses me so greatly is that they *have* managed to change so much, yet continue to take their work to new highs, over such a sustained period. Yeah, they'll never sound 'like that' again if you're a fan of their early days, but neither did The Beatles. From what I've been able to glean from a few band interviews, I think that even the founding members themselves are more than a little amazed at how far they've come. I like to think I know the genuine article when I hear it, and in The Lips case, I'm forced to pay attention as with no other band I know of today.

There are very few instances over the years where an artist or band with an established level of career excellence expands its sound to the degree that The Lips managed with "The Soft Bulletin" - records like The Beach Boys' "Pet Sounds", Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On?", or The Talking Heads' "Remain in Light" come to mind - and reach an even greater level of artistic achievement than before, and even fewer still that have then gone on to successfully capitalize on that achievement with their next record to the extent that I believe The Lips have with "Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots".

I'm not saying that The Lips are better or more important than any of the artists I mentioned above, of course; just that when it comes to even striving for, much less actually grasping, that sort of an accomplishment today, they're about the only game in town - and the fact that such a thing can be done at all at this late date just blows me away. I admit that maybe if it were 20 or 30 years ago, they wouldn't seem so special to me, and that a big part of my assessment of their songwriting and record-making quality has a lot to do with the prolonged lack of new exposure to anything its equal (I'm a guy who believes that rock as an art form during its golden age basically finished dying by about the time that the CD and MTV began their ascent [not uncoincidentally]), but given the landscape today, can you really blame me for wanting go overboard when the opportunity presents itself?

As Wayne sings: "'Cause it's gettin' heavy/Well, I thought it was already as heavy as can be/Tell everybody waitin' for Superman/That they should try to hold on best they can/He hasn't dropped them forgot them or anything/It's just too heavy for Superman to lift". The Flaming Lips are trying, and they're succeeding against all odds if you ask me. :-)
Zaikesman I am going to give you an alternative viewpoint on what little I've heard of The Flaming Lips-I don't like them.
I heard all of The Soft Bulletin and found it vastly overrated.
The new one what I've heard so far just makes me laugh-it sounds like Styx circa Mr Roboto.
The Lips that I've heard are well overblown in production,highly derivative and oddly represent (at present) a musical form that critics used to despise-to me they are in vogue and "the band of the moment" but I do wonder how well their present record will stand the test of time.
They are a bit more "out there" in comparison to some of their contempories who are highly rated but I neither see the discipline nor cohesion in their work that justifies the plaudits.
I appreciate your argument for them but as a guy who buys and checks out a lot of music they don't do it for me and frankly do not deserve to be compared (on any level)with some of the artists you mention.
Just my 50p worth.
I would have to side with Ben on the current Lips sound...self-indulgent,artsy noodling...ala Radiohead...which is why the Lymeys have eaten it up for me a purist...but their earlier deep acid rock will hold up over the long run...I think the new "experimental" Wilco record is much more listenable...
didn't they do an episode of Beverly Hills the prom band?
First of all, there aint no way Im gonna sound as eloquent as the original poster or some of those after. I really do enjoy the new Lips album, and think of it as one of the top 2 or 3 of 2002. I have not given considerable listens to any of the stuff before Yoshimi, so I will hold back any opnions I have formed of that stuff.

But as for Yoshimi, I think it is simply good pop music. Well written, a nice theme throughout, intelligent and heartfelt words and just plain nice to listen to.

I do however have a few questions about some fo your comments. you said "Pearl Jam the comforts of conventional arena-rock (oops, better make that 'alt-rock' nowadays) career-mongering". I may have misunderstood the statement, and while I am far from being a Pearl Jam fan, I think they detested fame and did all they could to get away from it.

And for Sonic Youth, while I am once again not too much of a fan, their recent release Murray Street was a rather good record.

And while I do enjoy the Lips, I would argue that Wilco are currently making the best rock music in the world. They have not been around for 15 years, however if you include Uncle Tupelo, they have been around close to it. They have also continually bettered themselves and put out better music with each passing CD. Summerteeth was a landmark album that followed up Being There, which was an album littered with fantastic gems amongst seminal songwriting. But Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is an album on par with Pet Sounds, or What's going on? or the joshua tree.

Of course, what do I know?

The Smithereens dont apply to 2002...but I have to mention them regardless...they never got the acclaim they deserved...and their CD compilation...the SINGLES...proves it...a truly great singles band in the purest sense of the word...quality power pop with a heavy British Invasion influence...frickin awesome! No wonder they were one of Kurt Cobain's favorites....
To begin with, I'm very glad to see some dissenting responses, or any response at all from some of those who may have looked at the thread before but not participated at first. (For those of you who haven't begun any threads of your own lately, our Audiogon is now most excellently providing its thread-heads with a running total of number of views, and we're talking 130 here so far, quite a revelation! - although that's dwarfed by the over 400 that my day-younger audio-oriented post has got.) I'm sure it's obvious to all that I wrote my post in such a way as try to engender some kind of response, be it in agreement or not. Picking The Flaming Lips as the topic not only declares what's on my heavy-rotation list these days, but it's also a way to start myself discussing a little more music and a little less audio-stuff around here, without attracting the typical boring 'audiophile-music' and AOR enthusiasts. (My apologies to the maybe 95% of you who might read this without responding [as I now realize], for whom that is exactly the reason why you stay out - it's cool, we'll still talk about gear some other time, just not female vocalists, radio dinosaurs, and soundtracks to bad movies, OK? Strictly classical and/or jazz lovers, please see the manager on your way out for a full refund with my compliments, though I can't imagine any have made it this far. :-) All the rest, feel free to pile on anytime.

All right, I'll address the less difficult stuff first:

Justin, I was using Pearl Jam as somewhat of a stand-in for all the post-Nirvana 'grunge' bands (such as Creed) who to this day seem to be able to sell a jazillion records based on nothing but conformity to an ethos of warmed-over 70's-ish sludge put underneath preposterously Fat Albert-pitched vocals and then call it 'alternative'. (BTW, Nirvana in truth bear almost no stylistic relation themselves to this unfortunate curse.) Although this lumbering crapola has lately been augmented by 'rap-rock' ripoffs such as Korn and Limp Bizkit and a flock of adenoidally-challenged 'punk-pop' wannabe's apparently inspired by the ghosts of The Ramones and The Buzzcocks (but not getting it at all) via the hapless Green Day, 'grunge' still manages to pack 'em in at the arenas among the tattoos'n'piercings kiddie set. For all their limitations (and I'm not a huge fan), Nirvana and prior Seattle bands like Mudhoney basically did actually approach rock from a punk perspective, whereas Pearl Jam were intent on going exactly where they got from the beginning, being consumately calculated and not revolutionaries at all, their dust-up with Ticketmaster notwithstanding.

As for Sonic Youth, I was a huge fan back before they became frozen in their tracks artistically (not that they can't still do some decent work), but didn't bring them (or the other bands I mentioned in that sentence) up in order to criticize their music, but to illustrate the difficulty that some great 'indie' bands who were given a chance to play in the majors - even with relative artistic freedom - had in making much of an impression on the wider audience, or in effectively moving their own artistic efforts foward beyond the point of signing up. The Lips seem not to be afflicted with this problem, instead taking the build-it-up-slowly approach that always seems to work out better in the long run - but that you almost never see in the industry any more - and still doing it completely on their own terms. Although they haven't gotten there yet, I think they have a much greater chance than the other remaining bands of their generation to break through sales-wise to listeners who may not know anything about the 80's underground, and though there will never be another Nirvana, neither will there be that kind of collateral damage if they can sort of just 'seep in' with some real quality work around the edges of radio or MTV, without ever flaming into, and then stumbling out of, the arenas in the fashion a band such as Cracker did. It may not be much, but the industry has their hand so far up the ass of most of the 'talent' these days (even compared to 10 years ago), that I'll take whatever little fortuitous scrap of unplanned and unplannable subversion I can get - and if it happens to The Lips, it couldn't be to a more deserving band.

About The Smithereens, Phasecorrect - you're right, they don't really have a place in this particular conversation. I would agree about the good singles band idea, but I've seen them live at least twice, heard (even owned) a few of their LP's, and ultimately think that for all their good influences, talent and erstwhile persistence, at the end of the day they were basically faking it on some fundamental level, winding up bitter about not becoming the next Cars or something. Give me The Lyres, The Fleshtones, or The Young Fresh Fellows any day over them in the back-to-the-60's dept., and I guess I never saw where Cobain rhapsodized over them (though some of the guys in the band did do a wonderful job backing up Sal Valentino and Ron Meagher at a Beau Brummels reunion gig I attended in NYC a few years ago).

OK, Ben (and Phase): I can sympathize. I have worried some myself about whether I will wake up one morning, only to find that in the cold light of day, all The Lips' output starting with "Zaireeka" would suddenly come clear as being too top-heavy and full of frippery to support its own conceits. I mean, I'm a guy that prefers The Who before "Tommy". Believe me, you could not have picked a more repulsive example in my eyes than the Mr. Roboto cut-down, yet I have to admit that the comparision is fairly drawn. So what's the difference? Well, The Flaming Lips aren't completely worthless idiots, for one thing. So their record isn't actually about robots or the fate of the world or some such nonsense, it's about people and lives and death and love, though there certainly is that science-fiction B-movie contextual aspect to some of it. The melodies and harmonies won't make you start pulling out your hair while you run screaming from the room either. And you must remember, The Lips are actually in possession of a sense of humor, and a pretty well-developed one at that, something that might be more evident in live performance. But if you've never heard them very much before, particularly their output from "Clouds Taste Metallic" backwards, then you could certainly be forgiven for not realizing that they are a punky rock & roll band at heart, in the sense of being equally influenced by The Velvet Underground as they are The Kinks (both of whom always maintained the pop side within their punk or the punk side within their pop), and despite all their sonic nods to Lep Zep or Pink Floyd, or how many friends in dressed in animal suits and trying to dance goofy they can fit on stage with the band. They do have grander designs these days, but I think it's important to distinguish a band trying to be 'artsy' from a band making art.

But the main thing that I think it would be a shame not to catch onto with just a passing glance is the fact that Wayne Coyne, while not the 'best' singer in the world (neither was Bob Dylan or Lou Reed of course), is a genuis songwriter with a very unique 'voice', both literally and figuratively. Literally, in the sense that despite his limited instrument, he still manages to evoke certain emotional resonances in a way that almost only he can, and figuratively, in that The Lips' music, even though it can be a bit derivative here and there (and what great music isn't?), doesn't sound like anyone else could have made it, either in construction or execution. I personally vacilate somewhat about whether the bands' new heavily sythesized and studio-treated sound more or less obscures or augments his songwriting as opposed to their earlier guitar feedback and drum battery mastery. I am a guitarist, and tend to reject 'artificial' sounds, yet enjoy it and give credit where it is due when someone comes along like a Bernie Worrell or an Eno, who can actually say something worthwhile in a new and personal voice by using a synthetic instrument. At first I was pretty indifferent at best to the sound of "Yoshimi...", and still find some of it to be distracting in spots (something that happens from time to time with the old guitar noise sound too) and edging toward the glossily tech-ish in others, but these guys have always been sound rangers a la Wire, Bowie, or The Beatles, and repeated and careful listening has shown both the effectiveness and the complexity of their creations. Even so, I don't think that I could take a steady diet of this sound forever, but there are always the older records, and I suspect that the band can be counted upon to change once again. But right now, they are doing what they are doing remarkably well, especially on the strongest cuts, which tells me that a great deal of thought and feeling went into this material's conception and realization. The results may require a little time to grow on a person, but they really can be quite affecting and challenging if you let them. (Audiophile note: a good sound system can help a lot here, as YBTPR is too complex and subtle to be truly felt over a boom box, computer, in-store headphone station, or most car systems.)

The comparisions I make to some of the all-time great artists are not meant to put The Lips on a level with them (I don't believe that any rock artists from this time foward will ever be worthy of that again), but I think it's always valid to draw useful parallels concerning influences, or things brought to the mind of the listener. One such thing I was trying to communicate, is just how impressed I am that an artist today could even make me feel as though they were striving, in their own way, to reach such an unattainable level of excellence. Most don't, you know. Most 'artists' content themselves with mere genre work at best, or just the projection of a marketable image. Very few ever break through, or even try, to find some way of communicating that doesn't rely on well-known and accepted signifiers and mannerisms to get over. Even many great artists work safely within preestablished paradigms, and although such work can be very enjoyable, it is rarely life-changing. But then again, most don't need to create their own version of the chair (to paraphrase John Lennon), because they are not creative geniuses, and don't have a personal artistic vision which demands it. I think those of us who are sensitive to it, instantly recognize even a small glimpse of such a quality, and eagerly pursue music that shows us some of it. I think that Wayne Coyne (in collaboration with his bandmates, if that is to be believed) has shown quite a bit of this quality for some time now.

I think that seeing this is what has made Lips fans, as Phild noted at the top, unusually ardent fans (though the band does seem to have left Phasecorrect behind now). Are they (the band and their fans) idiosyncratic or 'quirky'? I don't know. Obviously some of the others posting to this thread seem to know where I am coming from. I don't think The Lips are any longer guilty of trying to be inaccessible, though some listeners will want that. I think they are trying to be fairly universal. Like The Beatles, Bob Marley, or The Beach Boys, and remarkably few others (especially today), what The Flaming Lips are doing is essentially all about Love - not how cool they are (they're so not-cool, that they are) or how bad they are, or how sexy they are (they aren't those things either). Tell you what Ben, no guarantees of course that you will change your mind, and I totally respect that, but I will make you the same offer I made Sean, if you might be interested in going a little further than you have already before declaring yourself done. Who knows? Maybe you'll wind up convincing me that I'm really out of my tree instead, but if you 'get' Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Bo Diddley, Link Wray, Phil Spector, James Brown, Captain Beefheart, Roky Erickson, Jimi Hendrix, Jonathan Richman, Marc Bolan, Arthur Lee, Alex Chilton, or any other artists (like the ones mentioned up above) that just give you that sense of 'having to do their own thing' (even if on a scale that can't be considered grand but is nevertheless valuable), then I'm guessing you still might being brought 'round on The Lips, at least to some degree or with some of their stuff, if you just give 'em a good chance.

And lastly, an admission: I haven't checked out Wilco, mainly because I had little use for the whole 'No Depression' 'Alt-Country' thing, but also because I don't trust a lot of the critics who're raving about them, 3/4's of whom consider Bruce Springsteen to still be a great songwriter. Anybody care to take a stab at setting me straight?
I think the last Wilco record was pretty good-I think it was a much better marriage of their alt-country roots and new technology/sounds than their previous record Summerteeth which I really didn't like.
I admire your stance Zaikesman because you are an enthuasiast and fair minded and I'll set you straight Springsteen is still capable of writing great songs he has a few on his new record which I do think is overrated imho.
Whilst I think there are some major problems with The Rising I do think if you've read what Springsteen was trying to achieve in terms of the music and concept he has pretty much achieved that.
And for me that level of talent,vision and discipline is beyond the talents of The Flaming Lips.
Sure they are trying to achieve different things but you can get too much credit sometimes for being "far out".
Wherever it is in your opinion Bruce lost it you can be sure The Flaming Lips will never even make a modicum of that impact-musically,emotionally and intellectually.
Sure they will, and they have - maybe just not on you. Which is OK, although you'll never really know if you don't give them a proper chance. Sorry I threw you with that Boss crack, but I didn't realize that's where you were coming from (I can appreciate his abilities, but he's never been my kind, even when he was shaking things up back in the day). Speaking tangentially to Springsteen though, have you checked out Little Steven's Underground Garage radio show? It's in syndication on over 80 stations nationwide (on Sunday nights where I am). He plays a lot of the great but more obscure and punky 60's stuff that regular radio won't touch, along with modern 60's revival groups (and yes, some Boss, which I think is not only outside the spirit of the show, but a conflict of interest). He also gives some pretty good history lessons in his commentary. I think he's working on a plan to become the next Wolfman Jack when he finally gets too fat to reach his guitar anymore! ;^) You can look it up on his website at
Zaikesman I think it would be fair to say you like a fair amount of "critics" artist such as Chilton's Big Star and your attitude tends more towards the NME hip type scenario they started in 1976 where there are clear dividing lines between what is in and relevant and authentic and what is not.
I grew up in that era and didn't care much for that attitude-I'll love a lot of bands you hate for sure but I have the first two Big Star records and I find them brilliant in parts but not overly important in my collection.
I don't mind liking things that are uncool or even populist but I do laugh at the notion that the Lips are doing their own thing and how hip it is now because in the 70's it would have been laughed out of court,parts of what I've heard DOES sound like Styx and that surely proves how much more it is about being hip rather than the music.
Individuality is great and I'll give you my list of artists who imho surpass those you mention (with the exception of Hendrix)-Bob Dylan,Nick Drake,Mark Eitzel,The Doors,Bowie,Miles Davis.
I should also mention in terms of current music both the new God Speed You Black Emperor record an the new Sigur Ros sound miles more interesting and simply musically better than what I've of the Lips...
The Flaming some regard are like Radiohead, Beck,Mercury Rev,the Strokes,Vines,etc...bands that for some reason get a critical "free ride"....this is not to say some of the attention is unwarranted...majority of the press comes from across the pond...where the Brits are known for being a bit "over the top" and generous with the hyperboles...what the majority of independent record store clerks listen to is the next "big thing" according to NME...I prefer to make up my own mind...and judge a recording on its individual "merit" as opposed to the "hip" factor...
Well Ben (and Phasecorrect), I couldn't disagree with you more about The Lips simply being a flavor of the moment. It seems as if my passing comment about the critical reaction to them has been misinterpreted. I personally don't give a care about what critics say - I couldn't even name you one critic anymore whose writing or opinions I turn to. I'm old enough, have heard enough (my personal music collection runs over 10,000 pieces), and am certainly opinionated enough to figure shit out for myself. Ben, disregarding the Lips issue for a sec, I don't know whether I ought to be more concerned by the fact that you may have actually read what I've written before coming to the bizzare conclusion that I'm some kind of trendinista, or that my writing might be so obtuse that all my readers can do is throw up their hands, glance at the words "international rock press" or "Alex Chilton", and jump to an easy and cynical conclusion. The reason I brought up critical reaction at all was to draw some possible inferences about The Lips' chances to really break through in the public consciousness. Yours is certainly a strange attitude for a Springsteen fan to take, considering that his was one of most extreme examples of being the instant beneficiary of becoming a critical darling in the whole history of rock and what is written about it (leaving to the side the question of whether or not he may have been entirely deserving of this, and also the strong possibility IMO that he may still be, 25 years later, getting more than a little of an easy ride from the rock press generally). Ditto for the Alex Chilton/Nick Drake juxtaposition - their stories of critical resurrection and new-found veneration are actually quite similar.

It was not my intention to get into some kind of pissing match about what's good and what's overrated. None of the artists I listed were supposed to constitute some kind of pantheon of greatness or anything. Basically, I was trying to drop some clues that a reader might employ to help figure out where I'm coming from, so my Lips ravings might be put into some kind of context about just who the hell I am. My list of artists with true individuality could never have been complete anyway - that wasn't the point. Of course I love Miles and Dylan, and of course they fit that description. Maybe I've just taken the wrong approach in trying to talk to you, Ben; maybe I just should have said that my all-time favorite bands are The Beatles and The Rolling Stones (and the critics didn't exactly hate them), or that much of my collection consists of older music so obscure and forgotten that it's never been critically considered, or that I love quite a few bands that the critics have always hated or ignored in their day. I mean, c'mon now - give me some credit, will ya?! Almost the whole point of my posting this thread in first place was to celebrate the fact that there is finally a band who is on the periphery of the radar screen these days who I actually can and do love - 99% of what the media has promoted as being important in rock during the last 15 years I feel has been way overblown. I'm excited because people may actually be getting it right for once, and noticing one of the only bands today I can listen to without getting depressed for the state of the music. You may disagree about The Lips (although I'm not convinced you're speaking from enough experience there to be taken too awfully seriously), and I may disagree about Springsteen's later efforts, but I think it's a shame you seem to be letting that degree of difference persuade you to take an attitude of superiority and condescension in dealing with me or what I have to say. You and I would agree about a lot more than you obviously suppose. The fact that you insist on continuing to try and draw some kind of superficial parallel between Styx and The Flaming Lips, despite my making clear in no uncertain terms that I dislike Styx at least as much as you do (and yet giving your criticism the due consideration and reasoned response you deserve for taking the time to offer it), lets me know that you appparently are not interested in taking me seriously or having an open-minded exchange. In the case of The Lips, if not my own, I'll just say that it's your loss.

Phasecorrect, I couldn't agree with you more about some of the other bands you mention getting undeserved critical hosannas, or at least being overrated. Radiohead in particular, but I should also admit that their whole bag is not to my taste. Beck and especially Mercury Rev have intimate Flaming Lips connections, as I'm sure you know (and I assume that's why you brought them up), but just to give you some perspective on me, I wouldn't buy anything of theirs, though some stuff is OK, just nothing special. Beck is the kind of performer who I might want to like in theory more than I actually do. I find it mildly encouraging that he's moving away from 'rap', but still am not that interested, depite his latest touring band's being the subject of this thread. As for The Strokes, The Vines, The Hives, et al, nobody who wasn't born in the 90's is in any need of this stuff (although I have to say that even I think The Strokes are getting a bit of a bum rap being constantly mentioned in the same breath as the others - they do have a sound and can write hooks, and aren't just trying to get by on phony bluster, though they're about as derivative). I suppose I should appreciate the spirit or something, but really, you and I both know that it's such an uninpsired retread as to actually verge on some kind of insult to the real thing (and also that there are and always have been underground bands doing this kind of stuff for 20 years now, many of whom are/were much better). I also agree with your assessment of the Brit press (doesn't everybody?). But the press liked The Smithereens a lot too, and that doesn't make either them or you wrong about that band, even though I had to dissent somewhat. (And it also doesn't mean I consider you to be any more influenced by the "hip" factor than I am - sometimes the critics and you will just like the same thing.) Anyway, you think there's any chance our friend Ben here could grow to like some of the older Lips stuff that you (and I) dig so much?

P.S. - BTW Phasecorrect, are you a Redd Kross fan? I briefly had hopes for those guys in the 90's too, before grunge snowed everything under, but after their last record stiffed (deservedly so I'm afraid) and the death of their lead guitarist, I don't know if they'll ever get it back together again now.
Zaikesman I think you've taken me slightly wrong-I do think my criticism of the Lips is justified,the fact it's not the reason you like them then I accept that.
The list you mentioned seemed to indicate to me you were maybe brought up in that Punk/NME/no hippies/John Peel attitude that still prevails.
Your list of artists seemed to fall into this category to some extent in my mind-not to dismiss some of the great artists you mentioned-but there is a "critical" snobbery which pisses me off-especially here in the UK.
Actually we agree on a lot I 'm very close to your opinions in a positive on Radiohead and The Strokes who are way above their contempories imho.
Likewise I respect and admire Beck rather than love his music.
Sure their was even bigger hyperbole surrounding Springsteen my very simple point is that he pretty much deserved it -his style was pretty simple but direct and again imho he represented in his day a new link in the chain of contemporary songwriters.
He has made clunkers over his career but my point is that at the core of his work is pure art based on a tradition not (imho) music trying hard to be art.
I think it's much harder to do the crafted,direct and "simple" type of music he does.
I give you lots of credit Zaikesman because you are clearly very passionate about music just like myself.
We simply disagree on this band but you put a good argument forward for them.
Zaikesman...I appreciate your maturity level in posting a thread and letting others respond this case disagreeing at times...without having to resort to childish bantering and rebuttles...this is afterall a forum...lets not take things too seriously...although with times...this can be regards to Ben and the Lips...Ben likes what he likes...everyone to an extent is that way...myself I get record collection grows smaller...I have less time and energy to "find" new music...and more often than not...find little new music that stimulates me...predictable as it may be...I prefer something that has stood the test of it the Stones,Kinks,Hendrix,etc...Im afraid Im turning into the classic rock "meathead" everyone makes fun of! any rate...going from singer songwriter types such as the Boss to even early Lips is probably a bit of a stretch...the early recordings are raw and kind of sloppy in the classic garage way...but their humour,creativity,and energy set them apart from the pack in this regard...just for the record...not a huge Boss fan...but "Nebraska" has to be one of the darkest, hearfelt, dissections of the small midwestern town gone bad...a very underated and uncommercial Boss record...and a very good one..happy
Hey guys, great posts! (and yes...big bonus points for no bitch fights)

I think I fall somewhere in the middle on the Lips. I've never really thought they were as good as their press, but I've always enjoyed them to some extent. I can listen to them objectively and agree with much of Zaikesman's praise, but at the same time they often fail to connect with me emotionally. There are definitely FL's songs that do, and I like them very much, but others blur together and lack the distinctiveness that made a group like The Beatles extra special (at least to me...they're my benchmark of quality). I do agree that they have the drive and creative restlessness that great bands share, and I really respect them artistically. Musically, I kinda tend to lump them together with Radiohead (and others) and label them as "Pink Floyd" for the new millenium. I do enjoy both groups, but not as much as an other artists that connect with me emotionally. Of course, that connection is completely subjective and individual. I know Zaikesman must have made that connection, or he couldn't feel the way he feels about them. I know many others that have made that same connection with the Lip's music. I understand it completely, but I don't happen to share those same feelings quite as often.

As far as the new Wilco goes, I think Zaikesman should check it out. I know where you're coming from as far as the No Depression backlash is concerned. It's not completely unjustified, but I do think you're missing some amazing music that has been labeled (correctly, or not) "No Depression" . Wilco is another band that has yet to live up to it's unbelievable press, but I think "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" brings them one step closer. Like someone mentioned earlier, everything new is derivative to some extent. YHF is no exception, but I do think it may be Wilco's most original album to date. It seems like Jim O'Rourke was able to help them make the album they tried to make on their own with Summerteeth. I actually think YHF might have more in common with a Flaming Lips album than it does most No Depression albums. It's an atmospheric, laid-back, headphone listen...not country rock.

And's about time someone mentioned the Young Fresh Fellows on this forum! Not very hi-fi, but one of my all time faves. As a matter of fact, I honestly believe that Scott McCaughey's (of the YFF) Minus 5 album, "Old Liquidator" is somewhat responsible for Wilco's non-"New Depression" direction that began on "Being There". "Being There " was recorded soon after Old Liquidator was released (and after Jeff Tweedy played bass with Scott and the Minus 5 at a show in Chicago). The YFF and Scott McCaughey are also Jeff Tweedy's wife's favorites, which also plays into my crackpot theory. :-)

And Springsteen! Yes Zaikesman...I understand where you're coming from and I agree (I read "Mansion On The Hill"). I wrote Springsteen off ten years ago, but his new album makes me think I wrote him off too early. I haven't heard it more than a few times, but it's sincere in a way that he hasn't been since "Tunnel Of Love" (his divorce album), and I don't *think* Jon Landau was involved. Both are good things in my book. I've always felt that his Woody Guthrie-like image was fairly calculated, but I can't deny the fact that he wrote some amazing songs. I happen to be one of the few who thinks none of those songs were on "Born To Run" or "Born In The USA", but that's just me...I prefer his first two albums. "The Rising" doesn't sound like his earliest work, but it does seem to avoid some of the grandstanding that bothered me since the late 70s. I look forward to listening to it more, and I never thought I'd say that about a Springsteen album again.

Thanks for the Wilco imput Phil (the rest too :-). I'll have to make an effort to give them a listen (unfortunately for me, my ability to preliminarily audition stuff online is about nil, due to my relatively ancient computer, which just can't deal well with a streaming feed). My aversion to the "Alt-Country" tag doesn't have so much to do with not being a huge country fan (I'm not in the sense of knowing a lot about it or owning much of it, but I can greatly enjoy vintage country from the 50's and 60's [such as DC's WAMU carries on Saturday afternoons with the Eddie Stubbs show broadcast from Nashville - don't know if this is syndicated], and also like acoustic bluegrass), or even not caring for the original wave of country-rock (I'm a big fan of stuff such as Gene Clark's collaborations with Doug Dillard, The Band, Neil Young, Dylan, The Stones' country flirtations, and even some Flying Burrito Brothers and (gasp) Dead, but am not as attracted to later Byrds, Gram Parsons solo, or the artists that followed them with greater commercial success such as The Eagles, Poco, or Emmylou Harris), but rather what I perceive as the mannered and stilted approach characteristic of just about all self-conscious attempts at 'revival' or 'genre' music, combined with a tendency in this case toward the boring, songwriting-wise. I also found "No Depression" to be kind of presumptuous in a way that reminds me of the hype surrounding "The Year That Punk Broke", since both those phenomena were essentially media and commercial trend-hopping of movements that had really begun at least a decade before they were promoted as the latest thing. But as you say, the newer Wilco work may not be explicitly derived from this school.

I fully sympathize with The Beatles being your "benchmark of quality". I've been afflicted with the same expectation level ever since they became my favorite band when I was given the "Rubber Soul" album at age six, and this can make it hard for a rock fan to ever really give full marks to any other group or artist pursuing an original, non-genre, songwriting-oriented and impressionistic-in-execution approach to the music (artists not attempting to do anything other than entertain are, perhaps unfairly, given somewhat of a pass in this regard, but neither are they loved as much as The Beatles, while practicioners of traditional forms are exempt from having to compete). Part of the way I've reconciled this is to accept the realization that both the state of the art form, and the state of our society today generally, will never again allow for such a level of greatness to be achieved as The Beatles represent no matter what level of genius is brought to bear. Next taking into account the fact that almost universally, you are not actually going to find an equivalent level of genius anyway, I look to the hope of finding a different kind of genius, which is thankfully infinite in possibility. But the one thing that I really really look for, and get very high about when I think I may have found it, is an artist who, despite their limitations of ability or contextual serendipity (which may be severe compared to The Beatles), tries their very hardest, and brings all of their individual genius to bear, on attempting to achieve their own personal version of what The Beatles pointed the way toward in terms of what is ventured and gained artistically. Most artists lack both the genius and the effort required, and the rest generally lack one or the other. But when you can find an artist of considerable unique genius, who undertakes the difficult attempt to go beyond their own preconceptions of their art and reach for a new synthesis which might recall the creative spirit of The Beatles in their own small way, then you may have found an artist who successfully expresses what I have always identified as the key quality inherent in any work that can begin to satisfy in a way that even remotely recalls The Beatles: Generosity. It is the sharing of that personal artistic exploration in a way that tries to reach out to the audience unselfishly and give something that no one else could create, which is special. Most artists either don't possess something which goes beyond in order to give, or they end up taking from their audience rather than giving to it by not pushing themselves into so vulnerable and unknown an area of personal expression, instead working in a safe place where they are sure not to fail. If you can find that spirit of unguarded artistic generosity, even if the genius attempting to give it represents merely one which is different from what has come before, rather than one which is (impossibly) equal to what has come before, then you have found something which is worthy of the continuation of the art form's heritage of new creation.

I believe when you hear that spirit of generosity in an artist's work, you receive a spark of recognition that tells you: pay attention, this is different, this is real. Worlds can only open up for the listener if the artist is willing to go naked before them and share their unique creation despite the risk. I value receiving this spark into my heart even if the artistic genius in question is only a minor genius, relatively speaking. I can hear it and appreciate it in the case of Joey Ramone just as much as I can with John Lennon, just as much in the case of Gene Vincent as with Bob Dylan. Without all the reaching of all the minor geniuses, when it comes to rock, you might as well just listen to The Beatles and nothing else, but that would be a much less interesting and stimulating life. Which is, sadly, just about the state of the music as I hear it today. Most artists nowadays possess little to no creative genius, and are content to merely exploit their audience, essentially holding it in contempt. This might be okay for the industry (although not in the long run, I think) and for fans who have little in the way of artistic sensitivity, but it gets really depressing after a while for people like you or me, who grew up on something better. Rock is a pop art form, and though I can always listen to older material again, or tell myself that I can enjoy music that remains in the underground even though most people have never heard of it, I guess there is still a strong psychological need to be a part of something new which is much larger than yourself, and which has been going unfulfilled for quite some time now. I mean, I can barely recall the last time that I was totally into something that made much of a dent on the popular consciousness. There used to be a viable substitute for this in the underground rock community that existed when I was younger, but that was blown up and fragmented by the time of the Lollapalooza generation, and totally subsumed as everything became the oxymoronic "alternative". Of course, there will never again exist a day when the most popular artist in the world is also the best, as in the case of The Beatles. And in this post-regional, internet and video age, I don't even think there are going to be any more vital underground scenes in the way there were in the 70's and 80's. But I suppose that it is still just a simple hope of mine that someday, there will again be an artist who simultaneously sparks that recognition of artistic generosity within me, and also has it embraced by the larger world around me. Are The Flaming Lips it? If I'm being realisitc I think "No way it could happen, they're too weird, they're not what people want", but then there are times when I think that just maybe, enough other people might recognize in them the same thing that I do.
In most regards...after the Stones and Beatles...everyone else is trying not to embarrass themselves...however..some artists are better at this than the others...if you are fortunate enough to have a good, full range system...Photek,Massive Attack,Grooverider,and the Chemical Bros. are great for "futuristic" music with imaging and bass galore...not for every moment...but a nice change of pace...
I started getting into these guys right when their 2nd LP, 'Hear It Is' came out around 1986 or so. Some intangible & subtle-yet-pervasive quality of their music really struck a chord with me that lingers to this day. The records were good fun, but seeing them live was a WHOLE 'nother thing to reckon with! I saw them perform live as the original three-piece power trio many times (anytime they were in Michigan)and will stand by my assessment of these shows as some of THE most powerful and genuine rock & roll experiences I have had the priviledge of experiencing. They did things with sound and evoked strange, mysterious energies that really transcended what three dudes bashing on stringed instruments and drums should be able to manage. One of the few bands that had the ability to, when they were really 'on', shake my jaded sensibilities and cause me to stand aghast wondering just what the &*#% was really going on up on that stage. Their shows at The Foolery in Mt. Pleasant are the stuff of legends and they once played a basement in E. Lansing that was booking shows under the guise of a club called 'Ed's Lounge' simply because there were no venues in town to bring such acts to. The basement was filled to the brim with their visual onslaught of smoke, strobes and colored lights while the dancing shadows and primal fuzztone grind turned that humble little space into some other alternate reality. Anyone who was there will, to this day, recognize themselves as a witness to one of the cornerstones of East Lansing mythology. It has been fascinating to watch them evolve over the years, and though I was not totally enamoured of the 'Soft Bulletin' and it's accompanying live show (perhaps cuz I simply yearn for the good ol' days), I do respect the fact that they continue to reach out into other sonic regions. (I did catch their gig with Beck BTW and it was most excellent..they made a rather fine backing ensemble for that tour). That aside, I do love a good deal of the rather brilliant recordings from their more recent pop phases; 'Transmission Heart' and 'Clouds Taste Metallic' could even be considered the Sgt. Pepper of this era. The four piece band / dual guitar line-up that aligned itself with these records continued right where the original three-piece left off with consistently mind-blowing displays of sonic prowess at their live shows. These are, of course, times now long-gone and I'll just have to tip my hat and thank 'em for giving me some sounds to hold onto as very, very fond memories. A truly special band...those who were there will know what I mean.
Lips Fans...there is an older EP(not LP) with a simple,sparkling,silver type of cover...that i have been trying to find on wax or CD for is the most feedback and noizy the Lips ever got...what is the TITLE...and is it still available...if you can help me...I will send you a cool CDR of some groovy tunes...thanks...
My favorite power pop of the 80s? The Jesus and Mary Chain..."Psychocandy" is a flat out masterpiece....Beach Boy melodies...Velvet Underground fuzz guitar...and Ramones level energy(Ramones being the best power pop band of the 70s...they were more "bubblegum" than punk) to me audiogoners!
Centurymantra: Glad you could pop into the thread to share those great stories. I wish I could say I was down with The Lips back when, but they actually came out right about the time I had begun to tire of what was left from the indie movement's beginning and peak eras, and had started to pay less attention to upcoming artists. In my hometown of DC, the harDCore scene had thoroughly played itself out by then, I wasn't at all convinced by its 'emo-core' extension (e.g. Fugazi), most bands that had really made a go of coming up with something new based on the spirit of 60's garage and psychedelia had already had their heyday - as had most of the quality post-punk and post-new-wave bands that weren't hardcore, and my favorite rock'n'roll band in the world, The Replacements, was in decline. What new stuff I checked out generally sounded rather second- or third-hand to me (it seems funny to say that now, after what we've seen and heard in the 90's), and I basically concluded that the bands most worth continuing with were the ones whose roots extended back to the movement's golden days. Besides a lot of my favorite bands having broken up, I wasn't in school anymore, had to work a lot, and just didn't get exposed to as much new material or go to as many shows as I used to. I remember hearing positve things about this band called The Flaming Lips, but somehow managed never to actually hear them in the 80's that I can remember. So my first real exposure came when most people's did, with the left-field radio success of "She Don't Use Jelly". 'Modern Rock' or 'Alternative' hadn't really been codified into a restricted radio format at that point, so stations that played post-punk music still would spin some older stuff as well and I still listened in the car, and I remember thinking at the time that "Jelly" sounded much more to my liking than most of the then-current Nirvana-era crop. I intended to try and follow up on The Lips, but never actually got around to it until they released the "Clouds Taste Metallic" LP, and even then I didn't actually buy the CD until around the time of "The Soft Bulletin", despite my having made mental notes for years about being sure to check them out - don't ask me why. Since then, of course, I've been making up for lost time, but have only seen them live twice, both with the current line-up and show - once on the TSB tour, once this past fall.

My girlfriend, on the other hand, had her own unique live Lips experience. Before we ever met, she was living in Portland, Maine, and sort of accidentally caught a show in about '86 by the original 3-piece band, just because she and her then-boyfriend had thought the band name sounded cool and decided to check 'em out sound-unheard. It turned out that they were the only two patrons in the bar/club where The Lips played who had come down to see the band - the only others were a few drunk fishermen at the bar. As it happened, their style of music at that time was not the kind that was (or is) to her liking, but nevertherless she and her boyfriend were so impressed by the band's attitude and energy - especially considering that just two people had shown up for a gig so far from home - and felt that they were simply so good at what they did, that she really wound up liking it in spite of herself. The two of them also chatted with the guys in the band, and found them to be exceptionally pleasant and down-to-earth people, good in mood even though they had to be losing money on the evening. Years later, when I began playing The Lips a lot around the house, she never seemed to cotton to them much, although she guessed some of it was okay. Finally, when I went to see them this past September (up in Philly at a large outdoor amphitheater/arts park facility on the Unlimited Sunshine multi-band tour), I insisted that I buy her a ticket and bring her along, ignoring her feeble protestations. Although the band was in fine form (or whatever constitutes playing a good show for a band whose current material is so complex as to require that at least half of what you hear be played back from hard-disk drives which accompany the performers, all synchronized with a video film show), I wasn't as involved as I had been the first time I saw them (though I enjoyed seeing the new YBTPR songs), probably just due to my having seen them before in an intimate small-club gig in Baltimore squeezed in among the sweaty throng, rather than with assigned seats in a huge outdoor theater. She however experienced an epiphany at that concert, as I looked next to me to see her singing along, mouthing words she had apparently picked up from my playing the records, and afterwards she just kept telling me how much better she liked seeing them live, and how "touched" she had found herself witnessing The Lips' performance of those songs and their lyrics. When we got into the car at the end of the night, she wanted to hear Lips CD's on the stereo, and when we were back home, promptly stole those CD's from out of my case and to this day is still playing them in her car everywhere she drives.
Phasecorrect, I have been a J&MC fan since the mid 80s as well. I got hooked when I heard Happy When It Rains on 120 minutes sometime around the release of Darklands. I still get mad when I hear that damn ripoff by Garbage, I cant remember the actual title right now.

After some time, I prefer the smoothed out sounds of Honey's Dead to the raw power of Psychocandy, although I do enjoy both.

Zaikesman, It is too bad that you don't care for most of the music being done these days as there is some rather good stuff ebing put out. I will again reference Wilco, and offer to either burn you a copy of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, and if you like it you can go get it, or burn you a compilation of some of their better songs.

Did you ever get into the British indie scene of the 80's and 90's? Some bands that excelled during that time were Joy Division/New Order, Echo and the bunnymen, The Boo Radleys, amongst others. And each of these groups are still making music today, although not on par with what they did during their primes, with the exception of maybe Brave Captain, who wsa the guitarist/songwriter from The Boo radleys.

The Super Furry Animals are making fantastic music these days. They have progressed very nicely as a band and are continuing to get better with each release.

And thats just a few off the top of my head...

I was never very into the groups you mention. Most of them have their appealing aspects to me on their best material though, and I even own a couple of things here and there. The British group which came out in the early 80's that I was most into (as opposed to the British groups which came out in the 70's, many of which I was and am very into) was Manchester's The Chameleons. More recently, I quite like Supergrass (way too many bands in this world with the "super" moniker somewhere in the name). But overall, I've been disappointed with the output from the UK for some time. I'll email you about your kind offer.
Received my new TAS today, had to smile when I got to page 147, and even more on 163...
The Lips will be on PBS's "Austin City Limits" show airing in most areas tonight, Sunday 1/5, according to the band website. The show was taped a couple months ago, and they back up Beck, but I think they also do their own set too. We shall see.
Oh well, The Lips did not do their own set after all, and I didn't much care for the Beck stuff, or The Lips as his band. For anybody who tuned in and is now wondering what exactly the hell I'm on about here, rest assured that the Austin City Limits set was no indication at all of what The Lips do on their own playing their own material. Too bad. you know the title of Ep I was looking for from my earlier post? Also, I bought the last 2 Lips album just to see if they will grow on me...even if the dont...I like supporting cool bands...cheers....
Hope they do (grow on you, that is)...

No, I'm not sure which EP you're referring to (I don't have any Lips on vinyl), but have you tried researching it on their website? Even you can't find it among the releases listed there, you could post the question on the message board.
Ben: If you're still out there on this one, I thought it might amuse you to learn that I've lately come to the trivial yet tantalizing realization that the core essence of the 'breakthrough' sound-construction exemplified by "The Soft Bulletin" leadoff single "Race For The Prize" (and extended by the band and producer Dave Fridmann on other contemporaneous tracks) can actually be traced back, as it were (and assuming one is so inclined sans definitive proof), to the Mellotron'n'drums intro (& outro) contained on the title track of King Crimson's "In The Wake Of Poseidon" from The Year of our Classic Prog-Rock Nineteen Hundred and Seventy... (Thankfully the Lips found a way to effect a much-needed improvement in the lyrics department though :-)
When you discount the lyrics of Pete Sinfield, the world weeps.
Welcome to mediocrity. To live, you must first, "snare truth in bone and globe". Ya get that? Nor do I; but don't the trees look nice and full.
Rzemkoski: TEHO, but thanks for looking...
Zaikesman yeah I'm still here but I am busy sewing a complicated Rush logo on the back of my denim jacket.
The Lips played the UK a lot this year and as such they were on TV a lot,last time I saw them they made King Crimson look like the Sex Pistols such was the pompous drivel that Wayne whatshisface was singing way off-key about.
I haven't changed my mind a bit-they still sound like Styx doing Mr Roboto and I try to kick to my TV screen in every time they appear...
It's so comforting to know some things will never change... (Hey, about that Rush logo jacket - you sure we didn't go to the same junior high school? ;^)
I recently picked up my first Mercury Rev album (Desserter's Songs) and I was amazed at how similar the last few Lips albums sound to it (it preceeded them). I realize that Dave Friedman (the producer of both) is a member of Mercury Rev, an obvious connection, but it's more than's the way some songs are sung as well as the overall melodies and sounds. Perhaps Mercury Rev was heavily influenced by earlier Lips (Maybe Zaireeka??), but whatever the reason, I think it's very odd that two bands sound so much alike and both get praised for being so very original. Mercury Rev gets bonus points from me (so far) for being a little less grating with the vocals. They're wimpier, but not quite as atonal.
My brother, also a Lips fan, is into Merc Rev, and I've heard some of their stuff, but wasn't moved to get it for myself as I am with the Lips. Maybe it's because I actually enjoy Wayne's vocal stylings?... :-) BTW, some delayed leftovers from the Yoshimi sessions have been dribbling forth on EP's and DVD, including such outstanding tunes such as "Funeral In My Head" and "Up Above The Daily Hum".
Now a car company (I don't even remember which one) is running TV ads using "Do You Realize?" as the sound track. The previous HP spot didn't make this song the radio hit it deserved to be (din't this work for Moby?), and though MTV/VH1 still won't play the Lips' own videos, they frequently use Lips music as backing tracks in their productions about other things (including about the music of other bands). It's almost as if there's a conspiracy of sorts to capitalilize on the Lips' genius without acknowledging it, even though the band is surely getting paid well for the usage. Why is corporate America simultaneously so attracted to and yet seemingly afraid of a phenomenon that they apparently feel they need to tamp it down at the same time they try to exploit it? I keep thinking that sometime, somewhere, some radio programmer is going to get the bright idea of surrendering to the obvious and actually play this stuff, making it a belated hit - but then I remember, Oh yeah, there are no more independent radio programmers anymore, only corporate chain bean-counting panderers who lack the artistic insight to "Realize" they could be making money off something new if only they possessed the balls to play quality music by 40-year olds. I guess the advertising geeks are hipper, and more subversive, than the radio geeks nowadays.
The "advertising geeks" aka "Mr Suit" are the "punks" of yesteryear. As such, the ads that they come up with cater to those of their generation. We have become our parents and part of the establishment, whether we like it or not.

That is, at least YOU guys have : ) Sean
Just checked out the recent "Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell" EP at the Tower listening station this evening...a handful of useless remixes of "Yoshimi..." songs (definitely not improvements), along with a handful of uninspired new tunes...could they be starting to hit the proverbial wall as far as their capacity to continually amaze?...
You've got another Lips fan here. Any insight into their many colored vinyl releases, and if the sonics are good on those?
Just by chance, have you heard My Morning Jacket? Although a different kind of sound than recent Lips, to me it conveys a similar vibe. Their 2003 double LP It Still Moves grows on me more with every listen. Another underappreciated band from middle America...
Sbank: I got and returned one of the "Yoshimi..." pic-disks, "Do You Realize??" b/w "Up Above the Daily Hum", because it was totally unplayable - distortion city.

I saw (taped, in fact) MMJ on TV, and regret to say did not dig it the way their advance press had led to me to hopefully expect. Not terrible or anything, but where was the Kinks/Beach Boys-inspired art-pop I had read about? Granted, it was just one tune, but sludgy guitar riffage has been done much better than that, and the hair-shaking...
If it's Kinks/Beach Boys inspired stuff you're after, check out The Thrills. Available on domestic vinyl for around $10, too. That might be in my future.

Cheers, Spencer
Spencer: I acknowledge that my reaction to MMJ is as much a reaction to what were probably questionable comparisons as to the band and its music. Other things I've read about them seem more accurate (based on my limited experience) if no less adulatory, though they're still likely not my cup o'. But almost nothing these days is...
Hey guys, I like the Lips and picked up the reissue of 'Pink Robots'. It comes with a dvd that has videos, how they were made and some other strange stuff. Guess what? These guys dont take themselves that seriously, sincere, but sometimes tounge in cheek. I can see where they might not be for everyone and the laid back vocal style might put you off, but their approach is unique and I really enjoy them. From what can be gleened from the dvd, the Lips might be surprised by the serious nature of the discussionn here. They are fun.
You're right. I saw Wayne Coyne's personal top 10 in the Rolling Stone Top 500 Albums of All Time". His top 3 are:
Bjork - Debut
Beatles - White Album
Wizard of Oz - Orig. Soundtrack

Gotta admit, I thought he'd have some Zappa in his list.
Cheers, Spencer
I think they range pretty wide in their influences and listening tastes. This is a band that, when I saw them a couple of years ago in Philly, opened the show with a video of their singer Wayne interviewing Brian Wilson, and then covered a current radio hit by Kylie Minogue in their set (a vastly reworked take, BTW - and to be perfectly honest, they went to some pains to point out that they didn't consider the song to be done tongue in cheek, so whether this bolsters my argument is a matter of judgement).

Yes, they obviously have a humorous side (hence the fans dancing around the stage in furry animal suits), which is something I was trying to put across to Ben, who seems to think the Lips are as ridiculously self-serious as, say, Rush. My own taste in humor in rock'n'roll tends more toward Chuck Berry, the Beatles, and the Ramones than to Zappa (in other words, I like mine couched in pop tunes rather than self-consciously weird techie noodling), but the Lips probably have a toe in each camp. Whatever - they certainly recognize that some leavening is needed to cut their more top-heavy conceptions. If/when the great pop tunes run out however, that's where I'll be getting off the train, as weird + silly + pompous alone won't do it for me - I need beauty and guts, which so far they've graced us with generously...