Black Lips: Good Bad Not Evil

By Scott Kara

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Herald rating: * * * *

Label: (Vice)
Verdict: Modern day Atlanta swamp blues doesn't get better than this

When the Black Lips play in Auckland next Wednesday the nation had better look out. You don't expect the four, normal looking, T-shirt wearing Atlanta, Georgia, natives to make this sort of steely, sonic, thigh-slapping blues. It's as if songs like the trashy O Katrina!, the lizard-like Veni Vidi Vici, and the dangerous Step Right Up, have just climbed out of the swamp, shaken themselves off, and sloped straight into the party.

Then there's Lock and Key which bumbles along like a stray tumbleweed. And make sure you wait for the hidden track at the end of the album for some psycho, human coyote madness. It's riveting rock'n'roll. But also on the quartet's fourth and most clean-sounding album there are subtle porch song moments like How Do You Tell A Child That Someone Has Died (despite the title, it's a hoot), the dinky stomp of Navajo, and opener I Saw A Ghost (Lean), which creaks, squeals and moans beautifully beneath the main song with creepy yet humorous effect.

The great thing about the Black Lips is how they play so effortlessly and still come up with something caustic, impacting and fresh.

See them at the Kings Arms next week and don't be scared, they're not evil. They're just good, and a little bit bad.

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