Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I discover a band that's been around for a long time

I am going to preface this by owning that I know I will sound old and at the least out of touch, but here it is anyway.
While driving home from the day job yesterday, I listened to one of the three radio stations that I can usually stand.  On it came a song, one with a heavy guitar riff but with a groove to it.  It was a lush wall of sound.  The use of distortion sounded like something Hendrix might have done in the late 60s, but the voice was all wrong so I knew it wasn't him.  I started thinking art rock from the 70s, maybe ELO or the like.  Hell, if The Beatles had recorded this, the song would probably be known as a rock classic today.  Vaguely, I began to remember the single being used as a music bed for a commercial, a car ad or something of that sort (they all look the same to me.)  Whatever it was, whoever it was, I was digging it.  Lucky for me, this was an occasion where a DJ announced the song and the artist (no, I can't afford Sirius or XM Radio.)

It was The Flaming Lips with "The W.A.N.D."  Of course I'd heard of The Flaming Lips before.  I remember back in 1995 when they were just coming into airplay with "She Don't Use Jelly" and were on the bill with Duran Duran at a Chicago summer music fest.  During a radio interview with John Taylor, bass guitarist for Duran Duran, he professed his love for The Flaming Lips.  Apparently, Duran had played a gig earlier that summer with Adam Ant (who was touring in support of Wonderful at the time.  Great record.  Go get it.)  A music reporter asked Taylor how it felt to be part of an "80s revival."  "Well we're playing a show in Chicago with The Flaming Lips," Taylor responded.  "If someone thinks that's an '80s revival' then that's their own problem."

Unfortunately, I didn't seek out much more about the band after that.  I mean, I heard "Do You Realize?" all over the place, but that was about it.  Until now.  After visiting the band's web page, I see that they describe themselves as a "psychedelic alternative rock band."  Seems a perfect fit for Strange Horizons.  
So I watched more videos and was pleasingly impressed.  Not only do I like "The W.A.N.D." but also "Breathe."  Plus, anybody who writes songs with titles such as "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Part 1" and I was "I Was Zapped By the Lucky Super Rainbow" is alright in my book.
From what I can gather about this band, they're not being "weird for weird's sake."  They really are creating high art, but at the same time they have a sense of humor about it.  Watch a few of their concert videos and you'll see that they enjoy ludicrous stage props, almost looking like they're trying to bring Yellow Submarine to life.  Point is they don't take themselves seriously and thereby avoid pretension.  Just check the web page.  Wayne Coyne from the band is shown printing a poster with his own blood.  Normally that's the sort of thing that blood-drinking heavy metal slugs would be impressed by, rendering it all quite cartoonish.  But here it just...I don't know, fits.

"The W.A.N.D."

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