Seen Your Video: Flaming Lips, “I Can Be a Frog”

Four words and one letter: Karen O in a bikini. Enjoy!

The Flaming Lips “I Can Be A Frog”

  

Various Artists: New Tales to Tell: A Tribute to Love & Rockets

Say this for New Tales to Tell: A Tribute to Love & Rockets: at 18 tracks, it is one of the most thorough tribute albums we’ve seen come down the pipe in a while, possibly ever. While this makes for a longer listen than is probably necessary, it stands as a testament to Love & Rockets that so many bands – and so many different kinds of bands, at that – were eager to contribute. Black Francis does his Black Francis thing on “All in My Mind” – it should come as no surprise that the band’s 1986 breakthrough Express is the most covered album, with every song but two appearing here – and the Flaming Lips flip “Kundalini Express” inside out, downplaying the drum track and guitar while running the vocals though what sounds like an old ELO-era voice processor. Better Than Ezra, of all bands, does a straight but effective version of “So Alive,” and Chantal Claret teams up with No Doubt drummer Adrian Young to turn “Lazy” into a frisky striptease. Funny, then, that a tribute album featuring 18 songs would not include some of the band’s best-known tunes; “Haunted When the Minutes Drag,” “Yin and Yang the Flower Pot Men,” “Sweet Lover Hangover” and “Redbird” were all skipped over in favor of deep cuts, and while that’s a diehard fan’s wet dream, it’s a bit of a head-scratcher from a label standpoint. Still, it’s hard to argue with the results, which hit a lot more often than they miss. (Justice Records 2009)

New Tales to Tell MySpace page

  

Stardeath and White Dwarfs: The Birth

Can nepotism be a genre? Seriously, these guys are the Flaming Lips Jr. Supposedly frontman Dennis Coyne is Wayne Cone’s nephew, but maybe that’s a cover story (kind of like how Jack Nicholson was led to believe his mother was his sister) and there’s some deep-seated family secrets hiding the truth and he’s actually Wayne’s secret son. Whatever the case, these guys don’t only sound like the Flaming Lips, they even seemed to have employed the same design team, as the cover art and liner notes ofThe Birth look like rejects from the the Yoshimi cover design sessions. Dennis worked as a roadie for his uncle’s band for a few years, so maybe the Flaming Lips are the only band he’s ever heard. It would make sense. Stop me if any of this sounds familiar; Beach Boys-style vocal harmonies, occasional psychedelic freak-outs, oblique lyrics about space, lasers and even a Superman reference. Really? Musically there is nothing wrong with this record, there is even one stand-out track, the bass-heavy “Those Who Are from the Sun Return to the Sun” but…it sounds just like the Flaming Lips! What’s the point? If I wanted to hear the Flaming Lips, I’d listen to The Flaming Lips, not their junior varsity squad. (Warner Bros 2009)

Stardeath and White Dwarfs MySpace Page

  

I’m Gonna Make You Love Me: 15 Great Bands We Used to Hate

They say that you never get a second chance to make a first impression…unless you’re a musician, of course. In what other world can you hate something with the white-hot fire of a thousand suns, only to discover one day that a switch involuntarily flipped in your head that makes you think, “You know what, I really like these guys!”? Truth be told, it happens to us nearly every day, and most of the time it’s with a band or artist that we as music reviewers are supposed to love unconditionally but, for whatever reason, we just don’t. Or at least didn’t up until recently.

Call this the companion piece to our list earlier this year of bands that we just don’t get – which was almost universally misinterpreted as a staff-wide condemnation, rather than each writer speaking for himself – only with a much more positive vibe. The Bullz-Eye writers bare their souls and confess to previous biases that have since turned to heartfelt crushes (or at the very least, tolerance of a band’s existence). The list of acquired tastes is a who’s who of Hall of Famers, critical darlings, and…Cobra Starship? Who let that guy in here?

Flaming Lips
My first exposure to the Flaming Lips was seeing the video for “She Don’t Use Jelly” on MTV’s “Beavis and Butthead” show, which immediately pegged the Lips as a novelty in my mind (and not one that I even enjoyed all that much). How could one not see novelty in a song with a character who spreads Vaseline on her toast? This was kid stuff, and yes, I could be a silly kid, but where I drew my lines of tolerance for silliness were admittedly very arbitrary (example: I unironically enjoyed Mister Ed). As such, I completely shut out the Lips.

Fast forward five years later: I was just about finished with college, working at a record store, yet still very skeptical when a respected friend and coworker slipped me an advance copy of The Soft Bulletin in 1999 (10 years ago already?). His taste was generally pretty spot on, so I gave it a shot. From the first song, I heard a completely different band, one that was drawing inspiration from one of my all-time favorites – Brian Wilson. I came around almost instantaneously upon hearing “Race for the Prize,” and even grew to dig “She Don’t Use Jelly” too. How stupid could I have been all that time? Blame it on my youth. – Michael Fortes

Guided by Voices
The buzz was loud and clear on Bee Thousand, the lo-fi masterpiece by Dayton alt-rockers Guided by Voices. This was the record that everyone positively had to own, so I borrowed it from a friend of mine…and totally didn’t get it. The songs aren’t finished! Are these demos? When lead singer Robert Pollard – whose last name should be a synonym for ‘prolific’ – saw a song to its completion, as he did on “Tractor Rape Chain,” I was definitely into it, but too many of the songs felt like piss takes to me, so I politely stayed off the bandwagon. Five years later, he made “Teenage FBI” with Ric Ocasek, which I loved, but still didn’t buy any of their records. Then they dropped Human Amusements at Hourly Rates, a compilation of Pollard’s more, ahem, finished songs, and I finally bit, and the disc scarcely left my CD player for months afterward. And then, of course, the band broke up just when I was beginning to appreciate them. Luckily, they recorded 16 albums in 17 years before calling it quits. The only question now is: which one do I start with? – David Medsker

To read the rest of “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me: 15 Great Bands We Used to Hate,” click here.

  

The Life and Times: <i>Tragic Boogie</i>

  

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