The Black Lips – The Black Lips Sing in a World That’s Falling Apart

The Black Lips Sing in a World That’s Falling Apart sounds way more cohesive than any of the band’s albums since 2007’s Good Bad Not Evil. This newfound creative focus comes from a country theme that ups the twang without usurping the band’s long-running garage-punk formula.

Instead of going the Ween route and completely changing their identity with the help of Nashville session players, The Black Lips and two different steel guitarists nicknamed Catfish explored a few country tropes through rock ‘n’ roll songs about everything from growing up (“Gentleman”) to a relative of bassist Jared Swilley who may have inspired a GI Joe action figure (“Rumbler”).

Changes include new guitarist Jeff Clarke (ha, that name!), a member of longtime Black Lips peers Demon’s Claws and Hellshovel and the lead vocalist heard on “Holding Me Holding You,” “Georgia” and other homages to The Rolling Stones’ Beggars Banquet album and similar benchmarks in the history of slightly country, unquestionably rock stompers.

Yet as Porter Wagoner used to say, the Black Lips still play the songs that brought them here, from a finished version of Velvet Underground song snippet “Get It On Time” (sung by saxophonist Zumi Rosow and recorded with John Cale’s blessing) to weird (“Live Fast Die Slow”) and raunchy (“Hooker Jon”) selections that would’ve fit past albums.

Just as great punk and garage albums usually owe a lot to short-run 7-inches and excavated nuggets, crate-digging for rockabilly and country rarities shaped this set of songs. Discoveries of everything from “Psycho” singer Eddie Noack to Grand Ole Opry and Hee Haw star Minnie Pearl’s recorded output comes from two things: Atlanta DJ and record collector Greg Germani’s passion for sharing country rarities and Black Lips guitarist Cole Alexander’s endless search for obscurities.

Overall, the album’s more garage than country. Yet at a time when the broad term Americana means soul (Yola) and retro rock (Aaron Lee Tasjan) as much as it represents country music that’s not played on the radio (longtime Black Lips tour manager Matt Williams’ newer boss, Margo Price), a wisely selected tour package or two could expand the Black Lips’ already large and dedicated fan base to new, roots-crazed audiences.

The Black Lips
The Black Lips Sing in a World That’s Falling Apart