Music Reviews
200 Million Thousand

Black Lips 200 Million Thousand

(Vice Records) Buy it from Insound Rating - 8/10
The Black Lips are a live act. A drunken, rebellious, pissing-on-your-stage and breaking shit group of miscreants. They bear their asses and get run out of entire countries by the law. If you're unfamiliar with their live act, the India Campus Rock Idol debacle was documented by the camera crews of VBS.TV and is airing soon. The best renditions of their trashy tunes are performed while intoxicated. At least that's the mask they hide behind, and the facade they present to the world, but it's hard to believe these guys don't spend the majority of their days wasted, and destroying something.
Their latest album, 200 Million Thousand, succeeds on the heels of their last effort by means of a similar approach: a well-calculated, boozed up blitz through your ear canals. I imagine the recording setup for their studio albums is identical to their raucous live acts, or else they put a lot of energy (and beer) into sounding similar on record. Whatever the formula, 200... works.
Take Drugs, for instance; I can smell the sticky floors of the tiny club, packed to the walls with inebriated young adults, pumping their fists to the anarchistic tone of the guitars that go to eleven while singing along to the care-free lines of "Come along and ride with me. I'll make some space in my dirty back seat...We'll laugh about this tomorrow. Times like this, I hope will follow me!"
Throughout the length of the record (just under an hour), the Lips employ their tried-and-true approach to creating music: Take a relatively straightforward blues/psychedelic/garage/punk rock song structure, turn everything up past distortion levels, scream through the chorus with a near indiscernible roar, and layer on some trashy lead guitar riffs to your heart's content. Oh, and try and knock something over in the process. The lone standout to this rule is Drop I Hold which showcases something quite evolved from their last efforts - an eerie down-tempo pseudo-rap, Roky Erickson-meets-Dr. Dre drug ballad which fits in rather well with the tempo of the album, surprisingly.
No holds barred, and no pitch-correction in sight, the tracks of 200 Million Thousand shine like diamonds in the rough, warts-and-all. Most sound like they are emanating from the doldrums of some nearby echoey sewer main; a welcome distinction from the computer-aided, pristine popular music of today. These guys are the antithesis of American Idol, and God bless 'em. The music industry needs more kids who just play.