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The Flaming Lips

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Alan, I saw your reference to TFL in your bio.

I'm not much of a fan of music, and buy few new albums each year.

Still, about two months ago I bought Yoshimi and a month ago I picked up Soft Bulletin and I literally have been listening to them constantly. I just can't get enough. I love the way they mix sounds and styles, and their vacillation up and down the scale from earnest conflict to songs about spider bites kind of hits me in my not-so-deep musical roots (Talking Heads and R.E.M. were my high school bands).

What albums have you enjoyed? Have you heard others apart from those recent two?

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Another valuable quality of TFL is that there's playfulness, but no aggression or libido in their music (or at least the albums I've heard), and thus it can be played in the car with the kids.

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The Flaming Lips have done some truly gorgeous work, but man, Wayne Coyone writes some pretty clunky lyrics sometimes, doesn't he? I'm thinking of "Buggin'" right now... shudder!

I haven't made my mind up about Yoshimi yet. At first, I was irked that what could have been a great concept album fizzles out so quickly; after the fourth track, there are no more mentions of Yoshimi or the robots. A friend suggested, though, that perhaps the reason Yoshimi isn't brought up anymore is because the pink robots defeated her, hence the meditations on mortality and sorrow that follow.

Any thoughts?

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This is a band that i truly don't get. I have the CD "The Day they shot a Hole in the Jesus Egg," and it was in my stereo for nearly a month. It's just so wordy and exhausting that it won't hold my attention. It has something like 33 songs on it, some of them good, many not, and then there are comprehensive liner notes on the joys of atheism. I've honestly tried to get a grip on where these guys are coming from -- perhaps, drugs? -- but it's too much to follow, and none of the loose ends in their thinking seem to tie together.

I've filed it under "S" for "SELL USED LATER."

-s.

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Just saw this on a friend's blog: the Palm School Choir recorded a six-song tribute to the Lips and posted it on-line. Most of the songs are from The Soft Bulletin (my fave Lips album), and there's just something eminently enjoyable about gradeschoolers singing songs like "Race For The Prize" and "Buggin'".

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Help!

That's all I can say I guess, listening to The Soft Bulletin and not feeling anything from this album that got extatic reviews (on AMG: "the best album of 99, if not of the entire decade, impossible to not be moved by etc...")

Help! I don't get it.

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Help!

That's all I can say I guess, listening to The Soft Bulletin and not feeling anything from this album that got extatic reviews (on AMG: "the best album of 99, if not of the entire decade, impossible to not be moved by etc...")

Help! I don't get it.

I can't help either. I would submit that an individual's reaction to this band will hinge on how that person hears/interprets lyrics like this:

All those bugs buzzin' round your head

Well, they fly in the air as you comb your hair

And the summertime will make you itch the mosquito bites

If you find this sort of thing fey, whimsical, and so on, you'll probably love The Flaming Lips. If you find yourself scratching your head (and not because of the mosquito bites), you'll probably wonder what all the fuss is about. I'm in the latter category. I have the same reaction to the Danielson Famile, but I know many people who are crazy about that band as well.

That said, The Flaming Lips are one of the more eccentric and eclectic bands out there, and just because you don't like The Soft Bulletin is no indication that you wouldn't like other albums.

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I suppose any time an album gets tagged with a "best of..." label, it is always due for some backlash. Not everyone is going to dig an album, even if it is supposedly one of the best of an era. I don't think Neutral Milk Hotel is all they're made up to be, others do.

As far as the Flaming Lips go. I'm not a huge fan. I have the Soft Bulletin. I have Yoshimi. I've heard bits and pieces of other albums. Their live show is fantastic. That's about it. I can say their music is odd and it's a bit of an aquired taste. Soft Bulletin is probably my favorite work of theirs but I don't listen to it all that often. Like Andy said, their lyrics are pretty dumb. Then again, I'm drug free. Maybe if I started dropping acid their lyrics things would be different. I think one's appreciation of the Flaming Lips comes down to how much you enjoy their producer Dave Friedman's work. If you enjoy huge, over-the-top way out there production, the Lips will be your thing. From what I can tell Hugues, you seem to enjoy a more stripped-down organic sound. So be it. Shrug your shoulders and move on. Heck, be the voice of discontent - unless it's OK Computer - I've yet to meet anyone who doesn't like that album.

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Heck, be the voice of discontent - unless it's OK Computer - I've yet to meet anyone who doesn't like that album.

Thanks a lot (and Andy, too) for your explanations. Did I tell I don't like OK Computer either? :mrgreen:

Oh well, there are so much ways to approach music after all...

I can hear creativity and invention in the Lips music, but "emotion" (I keep thinking of what I've read on AMG)? All I hear is "attempts at emotion", or "false emotion", or "brainy emotion"... but real emotion I hear not. Now I can try to think further: we may use to get emotions in a mainstream way, and we have to learn to open ourselves to other ways. The dilemna being that you usually don't have to learn to get emotion, it's an immediate thing.

Of course if Lips fans sincerely say they get really moved from the Lips music, then who am I to doubt of their sincerity? After all I may think wrong (I'm even sure I'm wrong): we actually can learn to open other ways of real and immediate emotion in us, it's just a matter of language.

Where did it start, the language thing, to express our feelings, thrills, etc? How could we tell them as babies?

(to be continued)

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I'm a fan of their mid-era stuff (when they still played their instruments, like on Clouds Taste Metallic), but my interest stopped dropping off around the time of the Soft Bulletin. Lyrically, I basically ignore them. I love the noisy pop of those few early/mid-90s discs. Their older stuff? Eh. Their newer stuff? Eh.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

I love The Soft Bulletin and think it's probably their best record, but I think the two after it have been pretty substandard. Yoshimi has some really boring material, and is kind of overwrought ('Do You Realize?'), while At War With The Mystics is entertaining in places, but has some pretty bad missteps as well.

But every record they made in the 90s is really good (with the caveat that I haven't heard Zaireeka) - it's just goofy, melodic pop with cool guitar noises.

Edited by TheTrout

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I think the key to appreciating the Lips is in understanding that behind the flipped-out, 80's punk/underground music influences is a serious prog rock band wanting to write a song as good as Yours is No Disgrace. The tension between these two identities is what makes them unique, although sometimes I confess that i wish Coyne would return to the more conventional writing approach of Soft Bulletin. The gorgeous first half of that album is to my ears, one of the best three pieces of 90's music.

Edited by coltrane

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If you've ever questioned Coyne's sanity or the genuineness of those Hallmark-card-on-acid lyrics, check out this recent essay. I think there's considerable wisdom in these words.

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The Flaming Lips are releasing an all-star limited-edition album for Record Store Day. Guests include Nick Cave, Chris Martin, Yoko Ono, Ke$ha, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and Erykah Badu.

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Drummer Kliph Scurlock is no longer in the group. This news made me hope that someday, Steve Drozd will move back behind the kit, Wayne Coyne will pick up a guitar, and Ron Jones will come out of hiding. 

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