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The Flaming Lips put both tentacles forward and declare their oddness on Oh My Gawd!!! - from the Iron Maiden / Deadhead / New Age blender mixture of the album cover, to the songs (really, I think one of the band members provided the sleeve-art).

I guess that's what you end up with when you plunk down your hard-earned cash for an album these days (unless you're getting video clips and stuff, and I stopped caring about that after 3 hours spent trying to get the 'enhanced features' on Wu Tang Forever to work, only to find out they were a bunch of snapshots and ads for Wu Wear).

Oh My Gawd!!! continues in a Replacements-sounding vein, but the Lips fumble ever onward towards their chosen sound, and manage to put their stamp on things a little more than on their debut. calls "One Million Billionth of a Millisecond on a Sunday Morning" an Ummagumma wannabe, but where exactly on Ummagumma did Pink Floyd do anything this way-out frogdance trip-nasty? "Granchester Meadows"? Maybe on Saucerful of Secrets ... but the Lips' track is simply trippy riffing done very well.

Pink Floyd or not Pink Floyd, the song about Evil Knievel sounds like Pink Floyd again, but this time it's Syd Barrett's group of foppy cracked actors rather than the cool, calm, and egotistical later Floyd. The band try everything besides laying down a groove and playing riffs over it, and whether it strikes you as prog, or strikes you as porn - it'll strike you in some way, shape or form.

These guys were into drugs, and not into drugs as in 'let's get fucked up and get some chicks' or 'let's feel like we are the right hand of God', but in a way that opens up brand new wings in the institutional facility of your psyche and lets the patients run things for a while. Song titles like "The Ceiling Is Bending", or waterslides down Coyne's neural pathways like the "Ode to C.C.", prove that beyond any doubt.

I'd say I like that weird stuff the best, but I'd be a-lyin', I really like the more normal songs, like the opening "Everything's Explodin'", which gets my vote for best Lips song prior to "Mr. Ambulance Driver". And speaking of the devil, this album is sort of a mini-Priest Driven Ambulance of its own, except with less intentional noise-mongering and - you know - the songs aren't quite as good.

But if you've heard "Five Stop Mother Superior Rain", and were strangely moved by the basic chord structures and meaningless lyrics sung in an affecting way as possible, "Can't Exist" is just more oil for the wok, even if it reminds me of Phish when they try not to be so damned obnoxious.

And "Thanks to You" may be the only attempt to remake Led Zeppelin's "Thank You", ever, and damn near blow the original clear over the Misty Mountains at that. But things get let down when the number of ideas coarsing through the skulls of these avatars begin to outstrip their ability to project them.

"Prescription: Love" for example is a rambling trip to the editing floor that got sidetracked - if only they'd worked on it a little more. The sung part is pretty rad, but that intro ... and many songs have similar poxes on their visages - a badly constructed chord change, a lame guitar solo, a line or two that encourages cringes - and Jesus Christ, "Love Yer Brain" sounds like a broken-down Neil Diamond pleading with the nurse at the methadone clinic for another 25cc's.

What's needed is a little more thought before setting pen to paper, or pick to string, or paper to tongue. The album? Yeah, I love the crap out of it - and the Lips prove yet again that their pop sense is as strong as anything on the Top 40, they just prefer to act in a manner that gets them in shows opening for the Butthole Surfers rather than performing on American Bandstand.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just that the Lips could write rings around darn near all of their ZZ Top-obsessed late-80's alt.rock friends, but instead prefer to dress it up in 'don't worry, I'm not actually capable of remembering I wrote this excellent song around a basic chord change and my nice Neil Young / Paul Westerberg voice, because I inhale psychedelics faster than the Chicago Bears inhale steroids'.

The problem with doing drug-influenced music is not that your audience may not be able to understand what you're trying to do, it's that you may find that you're not actually able to do what you intended because you've grown giant Snickers bars instead of fingers.

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by Reviewer: Capt Bonanza

Posted: Wednesday 29th Mar 2017 11:27 PM
Recent album review
Michael Penn was one of those tasteful singer/songwriters with a penchant for folky Beatles-esque power/pop, who emerged around the turn of the 90's to bid the glossy synth-dominated 80's adieu.

His debut single and biggest hit, "No Myth", sounded like a fresh marvel on the airwaves at the time, with its crisp, sprightly acoustic strum and clever literate lyrics, best remembered for the troubadour's query what if I were Romeo in black jeans?

The followup, "This & That", was nearly as good if not nearly as big a hit, and between those singles are a string of subtler less immediately catchy and somewhat less fulfilling cuts: album tracks, in other words.

But just because the two singles outshine the rest of the material doesn't mean that March consists of hit singles plus filler - give them a chance to sink in, and the remaining tracks reveal themselves as finely-cut gems of craftsmanship.

"Half Harvest" suffers the most because - as track [2] - it sits uncomfortably between opener "No Myth" and "This & That", and thus amounts to the least memorable track simply due to its placing, whereas if it's listened to in isolation, it leaps out as a thoughtful and well-constructed tune and one of the album's strongest cuts.

Side One is consistently excellent in fact, being rounded out with the rapid-fire Dylan-esque wordplay of "Brave New World", and closing with the tender but rueful ballad "Innocent One".

Side Two is somewhat shakier, with the cleverness of "Cupid's Got a Brand New Gun" rather forced and excessive, and "Big House" rather ponderous, but the moody "Battle Room" ups the game, and the horn-infested closer "Evenfall" is kind of fun.

Penn's sharp baritone and acoustic-based power/pop style bring Lindsey Buckingham to mind, so for anyone interested in a Fleetwood Mac album consisting solely of Buckingham songs, March is a reasonable facsimile (or you could check out one of Buckingham's solo albums, but I've heard them all, and they're disappointing. This one's better).

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by Reviewer: Creative Noise

Posted: Thursday 30th Mar 2017 12:21 PM
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