Black Lips/Pierced Arrows – [Split 7”]

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Over the years, the seven-inch vinyl release has been a lot of different things to a lot of different people. By turns, it has been an EP medium for punk bands and a commodity for collectors among other things but, at least for most of the twentieth century, it has been used as a single release either to get the new hot song to listeners (and maybe invigorate album sales), or been the cost effective way for a band to take a shot at experimenting a bit to see if an idea will work and is worth pursuing. In the case of Black Lips' split single with Pierced Arrows, the release is actually both, and the combination of the two songs collected together amounts to something really cool and exciting.

Let's start with the “hot single” track (or at least it should be) that comes from Pierced Arrows:

Slamming out of the gate so hard that it'll actually make listeners draw a clipped little gasp, Pierced Arrows hits listeners from the moment they step up to “The Doorway” with a set of scuzzy, blues-rock chops that haven't sounded so good since a Bon Scott-fronted AC/DC hammered listeners in the face with the same kind of punch. Singer Fred Cole used the same kind of sardonic, snotty delivery here that Scott did back when as well; each come-on and kiss-off gets delivered with a style that leaves listeners debating whether they want to punch him out or cheer him on – but they'll be hooked hard on the sound until they can figure it out. Not a bad result for three and a half minutes-worth of work, and “The Doorway” has the added benefit of functioning like a gateway; it will definitely seduce listeners into wanting to know more about this band.

The same sort of interest will come to Black Lips on the strength of “Best Napkin I Ever Had,” but for a different reason.

Prior to this point in their history, Black Lips had already made its' name on a dangerous and manic manipulation of punk rock but, here, the band goes one terrifying step further: they discover and incorporate psychedelia. On “Best Napkin I Ever Had,” guitarist Ian Saint Pe thins out the band's normally dense guitar onslaught to something akin to 13th Floor Elevators and upholds that band's vintage twang while singer Cole Alexander hits the ground unhinged and just rides the tempo changes between the verses and choruses while simultaneously throwing out lyrics that are disconcerting because of the fact that they call bizarre images to mind (like “kissing Big Bird on his beak”) and are just left to hang in front of listeners after they're uttered; they're inchoate, nonsensical and get no explanation.

When a listener plays the single end-to-end and both sides through, while they might be a little disturbed by the experience, they'll also be exhilarated by it. The two songs collected here compliment each other incredibly well, and will definitely stoke some interest for both bands – to see if the sound is just a one-off goof in Black Lips' case or if they'll follow through and push this sound further on future releases, and to see if Pierced Arrows really mean it and have more of the same in them. That's the sort of tease every single used to hope it would achieve back when, and it's good to hear that some bands still want to follow in that tradition.



The Scion A/V Garage – Black Lips/Pierced Arrows split seven-inch is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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