by carl wilson

Flaming V.I.P.s

flamingceleste.jpg

This might be Zoilus's first-ever Cute Kid Moment. But on the occasion of the Flaming Lips' visit to town tonight, their first headlining show here in a decade (they've been here opening for others, and in 2003's anti-SARS, um, benefit? rally? kiss-in?) - I couldn't resist sharing with you this photo of Zoilus volunteer Erella Ganon's 12-year-old daughter Celeste posing with Lips mainman Wayne Coyne. Just adohwable. Let it also serve as tribute to Erella and her fellow Zoilusian galley slave Chris Randle for their sweat'n'toil keeping the site's Toronto live show guide up to date: If it weren't for them, I'm not sure I'd be able to sustain it. Erella says Celeste is, "a budding punk-rock filmmaker" who "has made six or seven little stop-animation shorts on her own, using her toys."

As justification, here are two battlebotting reviews of the new Lips joint, At War with the Mystics: The Guardian pro and the Village Voice anti. I find the latter more persuasive, on David Marchese's writing alone: "Neocon call-outs (the mystics of the album's title) and lazy lyrical jibes at passé targets like Gwen and Britney epitomize the album's tired ideological currency. But the main problem isn't lyrical inanity—it's how steadfastly the music hems to pro forma notions of the awesome and the sublime." And: "Back when the Lips were just a scraggly gang of young Okies with heads full of acid and a fondness for fuzz, they weren't so concerned with effing the ineffable." Which simply rings with more conviction than the Guardian's, "The Flaming Lips have just found more sophisticated ways of messing with listeners' heads."

But I have a pre-existing bias against the Lips, who have long brewed up too much post-Floyd/Zappa, Barenaked-Ladies-on-Acid goof-syrup for my tastes. It would be fantastic if they totally converted into a children's group, following in what I hope remains the permanent direction of They Might Be Giants. Let this photo be an inspiration!

| Posted by zoilus on Tuesday, April 04 at 01:57 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (16)

 

COMMENTS

Destin Mohamed Shayne Milo Cameron Tyrese

Posted by Wilson on May 2, 2006 09:43 PM

 

 

I love their new song. Don't be too much of a snot about them.
Yeah yeah yeah is alternative even though they are not.
And the picture of the cute girl and Wayne Coyne is fantastic. I wonder where was it taken?

Thank you.

Posted by ashley on April 6, 2006 06:57 PM

 

 

I love this picture, thanks for that.
FL are fantastic just for their enthusiasm for laughter. Unlike many of the bands they get compared to they have a kind of sincerity that comes through.
They really rock too.

In the photo you posted, WC looks as chuffed to be with the young punk as she is to be with him.
Very sweet.

Posted by Heather on April 6, 2006 06:40 PM

 

 

Nathan keeps making my points better than me. I willingly retract the BNL shot but I would be surprised if these guys didn't have Zappa albums in their collections or at least in their pasts. His influence is more lateral than literal, overall in music, except the few obvious out'n'out acolytes. (Mr Bungle etc.)

As for the double mention of the Lips - it's only because they were in town. And because the first mention was a half-sentence that I thought should perhaps be explained.

Posted by zoilus on April 6, 2006 12:20 PM

 

 

I would agree they have more in common with Neil Young (they did a great version of "After the Goldrush" on The Bridge compilation), but mostly in the sense that the difference between their good stuff and bad stuff is almost infintisimal - like a vital chromosome is missing - and that both have been resting on their sonic/aesthetic laurels for a long time now.

I don't hate the Lips - I think they annoy me precisely because they embody a lot of what I usually like. Kind of like "Fight Club" and most Martin Amis novels - I want to like them more than I do. Also, once you dig beneath all the musical persiflage, the songs themselves tend to be fairly stock, as Lars Ullrich would say.

But again, I would be very happy if my kids got into them, even if only as a "gateway" band to better things.

Posted by Nathan on April 5, 2006 06:03 PM

 

 

These guys are one of a small handful of bands that I feel irrationally protective of. I've been anticipating a backlash on this album. I wouldn't say this discussion qualifies, though I will note that this is the second time in a week or so that you've mentioned the Lips, apparently just so you can dismiss them.

I'll gladly concede that the Flaming Lips' songs can be silly sometimes, but I think that 'silly' can be a valid state for pop music (or anything else) to explore. Even if it weren't, the Lips have always maintained an emotional core in their music that ought to acquit them of any 'goof rock' accusations.

Finally - obviously, they have much more in common with Neil Young than with Zappa or, god forbid, the Barenaked Ladies.

Posted by Bryan on April 5, 2006 04:11 PM

 

 

And speaking of BNL, this ILM thread is one for the ages:
http://ilx.wh3rd.net/thread.php?msgid=6198907

Posted by stuber on April 5, 2006 02:30 PM

 

 

Fact! The Lips covered "Lucifer Sam" on the Yoshimi tour.

Fact! On the "Providing Needles" EP, Wayne intros a song by paying tribute to the recently deceased Frank Zappa, but claims "I was never really a fan."

Posted by stuber on April 5, 2006 11:22 AM

 

 

I like the early, noisy Lips' stuff too, and I do like some of those very-very pop moments. But mainly, for me, Nathan's nailed it, except I'd say this is the way they've been since the mid-90s rather than that it's the way they've "always" been. (The Barenaked Ladies line was a cheap shot rather than an earnest comparison, I admit.)

I love humour in music, but I dislike goofiness: I've never liked Zappa's brand of humour (well, okay, maybe when I was 14, though even then I didn't like the broadest gross-out stuff) - Beefheart's always been much funnier to me. And I don't mind some of TMBG. And while I love, love, love Syd Barrett, I'm afraid the Lips sound more influenced by post-Syd, pre-Dark-Side Floyd, the flabby psychedelia of, say, Atom Heart Mother or Live at Pompeii rather than the taut eccentricity of Piper at the Gates of Dawn.

It feels like a difference between an almost involuntary, character-based humour and forced jokiness (or likeways between exploring strange realms and just trying to be "weird"). Expressing it that way presumes too much about intentionality to be a legitimate reading, but for now I don't have a better set of descriptors for the effect.

Posted by zoilus on April 5, 2006 09:49 AM

 

 

If you'd like to hear fantastic kids music, check out Duplex, on Mint.
It's great!......and adults will dig it too!

Posted by knitgirl on April 5, 2006 08:21 AM

 

 

I'm with Dave M - the Lips don't do life-changing or holy-moly-WHOA music, but their best pop-songs are really fucking great, full of joy and catchiness and darting sounds. And their live show is pure, utterly childish fun.

Posted by Sean on April 5, 2006 03:09 AM

 

 

Even when the Lips get overly whimsical, I think the BNL/TMBG comparisons are off-base -- the Lips were never a folk-based band, and "Jelly" aside, never relied on schticky pop-culture referencing. Sure their songs could be silly, but I think that owes way more to Syd Barrett than '80s smartypants college rock. Remember, in the late 80s/early 90s, they were a punishingly noisy band, up there with MBV, Dinosaur Jr or the Mary Chain on the ear-damage scale. But what I find most interesting about the Lips is that their catalogue presents a very minor evolution from album to album, but a massive one over two decades. If you listen to everything from their first EP to the new album back to back, each time you'll hear strains of the previous record but taken a bit further each album (with the exception of "Zaireeka," of course, though 4-CD sonics aside, I'd argue the actual songwriting on that album was an extension of the more emotional material on "Clouds Taste Metallic"). I've loved this band since seeing them open for (yikes) Porno for Pyros at the Concert Hall in '92, and I'm still most fond of their 1990-95 era. But remembering how relatively scarce media coverage was of the band back then, it's pretty gratifying to see them on every magazine cover these days, even if the new album ain't their best.

Posted by stuber on April 5, 2006 01:22 AM

 

 

There is always a critical bias against acts that make humour an integral part of the music. You gotta admit they've carved out an original little place for themselves in the continuum. Everybody compares Zappa, Floyd, BNL, TMBG, but it's hard to think of any act doing the post-modern ironic-stuffed-animal-psychedelia thing anything like these guys do.

I hear other heritage in the FL. I hear the irreverent, sloppy noodling of Country Joe and the Fish, and the ensemble yuks of Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks. Just some good ol' boys grinnin and riffin and having fun on stage.

Posted by shabba rich on April 5, 2006 12:11 AM

 

 

they've written some fine pop songs, though. "Fight Test", "Mr Ambulance Driver", "Race For The Prize", "The W.A.N.D." -- none of these strike me as overtly experimental, just pop using sound sources that aren't always gtr/bs/drms. their whimsy can be plenty irritating, but when they stick to their poppier instincts, i find them more than tolerable.

Posted by Dave M. on April 4, 2006 10:28 PM

 

 

... having said that, I'd be very happy if my kids got into them.

Posted by Nathan on April 4, 2006 08:10 PM

 

 

"Effing the ineffable" and "Barenaked-Ladies-on-Acid goof-syrup" - the sound of two very large nails being hammered into a giant, pink, inflatable coffin.

For me, the Lips always sounded too pre-digested, as if they've already done all the work finding "cool" sounds, leaving nothing for the listener to do but accept with passivity. The open-heart-on-striped-sleeve lyrics and the mellotron orchestras and the glockenspiels and fuzzy guitar bits never add up to music - they're all signifiers. Obviously the Lips are not the only band guilty of this, though I think they are very much repsonsible for a certain strain of it - the switch from acid to E, or something.

Put them up against Yoshimi's OOIOO, or even "Donuts" by J Dilla, and it is immediately obvious that the Lips are not messing with any listeners' heads, but merely announcing, in sound, that they are.

Posted by Nathan on April 4, 2006 08:08 PM

 

 

 

Zoilus by Carl Wilson