In a year where horrible things happened such as The Libertines becoming gentrifying hoteliers and Eddie Van Halen running with the devil all the way to heaven, it can be tough to locate the gems sparkling amidst the mire. We took a deep dive into that mire and found some, though, coming up with gold in our filthy hands featuring everything from Tha’ Motherfuckin’ Dali Lama to divorced dads singing about hashish to proof that The Stones pioneered black metal. No seriously, 2020 has been a terrific year for music, much of it hidden and ignored, but as our fave verse of the year says: My glitter hips, this bloodless art/The end of days, the starless dark/A bag of tears where love is gone/The darling days, a siren song. So without further intro tripe, let’s dig into the first record of the series.
Black Lips. Sing in a World That’s Falling Apart – (Fire Records/Vice Records)
This is the run-down intersection where Exile On Main Street and Ween’s 12 Golden Country Greats meet to perform a small-time drug transaction. Predictably, things go horribly awry; shout-along choruses crash into exaggerated Keef riffs, satire borders on sincerity, masculine country-rock tropes are subverted and distorted and run through a ringer, all of it rendered entirely new even though the sources it draws from are exhausted and ancient. If the beauty of the elusive Gram/Country Honk/Nudie Suit niche has always been its ability to transport the listener to a well-detailed world that has nonetheless never actually existed, a realm of Earth mommas with flowers in their hair and freak-flag-flyin’ cowboize and rhinestone Harleys and endless stoned desert nights, then Sing checks out as a solid entry into the canon. Only this one tosses enough surreal weirdness and sexual confusion into the mix to make Robbie Robertson run for the trailer door. “The hooker thinks that I’m a john but I’m movin’ on/her john thinks that I’m a hooker and he’s tryin’ to hook up/everybody’s wrong about what turns me on”. “The Weight” this is not, my friends.