Underneath the Rainbow
Emerging from the dank basement of Atlanta’s indie-rock scene at a time when there was very little “scene” to speak of, Black Lips attempted to make up for a lack of musical knowledge and experience with pure rock ‘n’ rebellion.
Inspired by punk legends like The Stooges and G.G. Allin, the band became equally well known for destructive on-stage antics as they were for their distinctive brand of garage-rock. Their incendiary live shows bought national attention from Rolling Stone and The New York Times. But eventually even indie kids have to grow up, and 2011’s Mark Ronson-produced Arabia Mountain found the group evolving into a more mature, refined sound.
Musically speaking, the band’s seventh studio LP seems like a small step backwards. Seven of the 12 songs were recorded in Nashville with the Black Keys’ Patrick Carney on production. But, other than “Dog Days” (co-written by Brad Cox of Deerhunter), many of them sound shockingly generic and uninspired.
The album’s best tracks were recorded in New York with former Sharon Jones guitarist Tom Brenneck. From the night-behind-bars storytelling of “Smiling” to the insistent flower-punk pulse of “Make You Mine” (co-written by Brent Hinds of Mastodon), these songs remind us why the Black Lips became kings of Atlanta’s garage-rock scene, and show how potent they can be when they’re firing on all cylinders.