Arabia Mountain – The Black Lips

Back in 2009, The Black Lips and Wavves feud took a new turn when bassist Jared Swilley had the shit kicked out of him by Wavves’ tour managers. A few stitches later, Swilley went on another tirade, calling Wavves main man Nathan Williams a “faggot.” A year later, Williams polishes up his own sound and essentially slaps Swilley across the face with the exceptional King of the Beach. If Swilley still wanted to maintain that Williams was a faggot, then why did he go and hire Amy Winehouse’s producer, Mark Ronson to polish the new album? Shooting yourself in the foot with that one dude.

All of that aside, The Black Lips have always been a love-’em-or-hate-’em band. You either love their backwoods version of psychedelic garage rock or you don’t. If it isn’t already obvious, I wasn’t the band’s biggest fan. I used to think that they were more than mediocre and only got the attention they received because of their stage antics that screamed “hey, look at me!” It just didn’t catch on with me. But while Arabia Mountain isn’t exactly my new favorite album, it’s definitely a turning point.

Off the bat, I was impressed with opening track “Family Tree.” The line “Can’t I take you down/down to the family tree” resonated in my head after a while, along with the reverbed guitar and small horn fills. It’s followed by my favorite track on the record “Modern Art.” The guitar riffs keep your attention the whole time, and if that fails, the lyrics will do the job. “Spidey’s Curse” is not bad at the starts, but gets boring by the end. Luckily, “Mad Dog” more than picks up the slack. It’s mixture of psychedelic & blues guitar melodies and solos and steady beat made the album’s pace improve. I thought that this may actually be the first Black Lips record that was good all the way through. Unfortunately, the vocals and dumb lyrics that came next made “Mr. Driver” a dud.

My skepticism was back, even though “Bicentennial Man” helped sway doubts with it’s cool guitar solos and distant shouts. “Go Out and Get It” is alright, but at this point, I feel like I’ve had my Black Lips fix from that song until “New Direction.” I mean “the Lie” has it’s moments, but none of those other songs really catch on.  They’re just nothing special and a good chunk of the record to just skip over. The sporadic claps and bright singing in “New Direction” make it feel like a coked out but fun sing along. “Noc-A-Homa” has great rhythm in the bass lines and guitar licks in the verses, but loses its momentum during the chorus. “Don’t Mess Up My Baby” feels like a reject King Khan and the Shrines track, but not in a good way (and yes, I know about the Almighty Defenders). The good news is that the album ends up finishing strong with “You Keep on Running.” The track gets so trippy at some points, it’s creepy (the singing especially). The borrowed Doors’ bottleneck slide fills help maintain the trance feeling of the track.

Overall, it’s not a great record because I have to skip more than half the tracks to get to the ones I want to hear or are gonna have playback, but for the Black Lips, it’s a step in the right direction. The songs are getting better but even though this record starts out strong, it’s loses steam and gets lost after a while. If the band could just work on writing a couple more good songs in the same vein as “Modern Art” and “New Direction”, then this album would be a lot more solid.

You can get “Modern Art” and “Mad Dog” right HERE. The album comes out June 7th on Vice Records. They’re playing the Exit/In August 3rd.

Modern Art

Go Out and Get It! – Black Lips

8 Responses to “Arabia Mountain – The Black Lips”
  1. go out and get it is one of the worst songs ive ever heard….just sayin…

  2. Jordan Canio says:

    it’s = it is

    Your improper grammar and severely anti-analytical review style is gag-provoking.

  3. Jordan Canio says:

    it’s = it is

  4. petersnackerrrrr says:

    This is literally one of the most poorly written reviews I’ve ever read. Wow.

    • Jordan Canio says:

      How’s it feel to know the biggest song you have is called “Ghost With A Boner”? Talk about excellent writing right there…..oh wait.
      Just do me a favor and don’t call my friends about me hurting your feelings this time. Actually, fuck it, do it. That shit was hilarious.

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  1. […] my reasons for not being a huge Black Lips fan when I reviewed their newest album, Arabia Mountain, last month. While I’m still not their number one fan, I can say the band is growing on me a bit and that […]

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