The Flaming Lips – Embryonic (Retro) Review

A Grower

Before I begin writing this review, I have to give full disclosure and admit that I showed up late to The Flaming Lips musical masquerade party. I missed out on “She Don’t Use Jelly,” The Soft Bulletin, and everything else. For years, the band orbited around my auditory peripheral vision, mostly from friends telling me how much I would love them due to their obvious Syd Barrett/Pink Floyd undertones and Butthole Surfers sensabilities. It wasn’t until I finally gave them a chance with Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots that I realized my friends were right all along.

By 2009, The Lips had grown into a much more popular band than anyone could have envisioned in their earlier years. With the success of the song “Do You Realize,” the critical acclaim laid on them for The Soft Bulletin, and their mesmerizing, legendary live shows, they had become one of the few that could easily headline Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, July 4th on The Mall, Coachella, and your backyard BBQ. Their music appealed to a wide array of listeners, much like Janes Addiction’s did before them. Hippies, folkies, metalheads, and hipsters alike were all on The Flaming Lips bandwagon. They were a fun, psychedelic, experimental, punky-meets-jam band with catchy songs about death, and a singer who dances atop the audience inside of a see thru ball. What’s not to like?

So what did the band do at this point of their now well over 20-year career? They released Embryonic, perhaps their most inaccessible album since Zaireeka.

Continue reading →

Pink Floyd Discography Review

The following are reviews of every Pink Floyd studio album from 1967-1983. There are no greatest hits, compilations, solo, live recordings, or post-Waters albums reviewed:

The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967)
Floyd’s unheralded, and underrated, debut album.  Recorded at the same time as The Beatles Sgt. Peppers (and in the same studio-Abbey Road), it’s hard not to notice a few similarities between the two. Rumor has it that Lennon and McCartney used to sneak into the Floyd mixing sessions to hear what they were up to.  This is Pink Floyd as a psychedelic-pop band, not the artsy, self-indulgent “acid rockers” that they later became known as.  Whereas The Beatles were well into their careers by this point and first starting to experiment with drugs and the wonders of the recording studio, Floyd was still a young, undeveloped pop act that was writing tripped out songs about gnomes, strange cats, and galaxies.  Lyrically and musically, this album belongs to Syd Barrett. The underground London hippie scene was in full effect at this point, and this album reflects those times. Listening to it now, parts are dated and somewhat corny. But if you put yourself in the mind frame of 1967 and compare this album to other “psychedelic” albums of the time, you could sense that Floyd wasn’t just some drop in the pan band that was going to disappear. They were just beginning.

Highlights: Astronomy Domine, Interstellar Overdrive, Bike, Lucifer Sam
Could Do Without: The Gnome, Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk

A Saucerful of Secrets (1968)
By this point, Floyd was still a struggling band on the circuit and Syd Barrett’s drug abuse and mental state were taking their toll. Syd was relieved of his duties during the recording and replaced by David Gilmour. This is the only Floyd album that technically contained a 5-member lineup, with Barrett and Gilmour splitting the guitar parts.  The tensions within the band at this time are apparent on the album. Waters was starting to take over the writing from Barrett, but was still far off from his future works. This album sounds like Floyd at a crossroads trying to define themselves. It was also the beginning of the change in sound for the band. With the absence of Barrett’s LSD laced lyrics and song structures, longer, more atmospheric numbers started appearing. This is NOT a pop album.

Highlights:  Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun, A Saucerful of Secrets, Let There Be Light
Could Do Without:  Jugband Blues, Remember a Day, See Saw

Continue reading →