TOTW: The Flaming Lips_Mother I’ve Taken L.S.D.

Long term readers of this blog will know that one of my favourite bands is The Flaming Lips.

The Flaming Lips have been a regular fixture on my Track Of The Week segment, reflecting their frequent additions to my library of music since my teenage years. I continue to appreciate their unique identifiable sound that has remained consistent throughout their experimentation with musical form, and for the lyrics of Wayne Coyne. His take on the world has always been perculier and for a long time reflective on light and darker subject matter with a nuance I’ve always found uplifting.

They have always dealt with dark subject matter in their music; especially death. But throughout all their sci-fi and psychodelic constructions, the route of Wayne’s lyrics have always stemmed from a portrayal of grief and happiness that I find very realistic. This stands in opposition to most other music, which overdramatises for emotional weight.

Wayne seems to show effortlessly the way that both grief and happiness are fleeting, and so they should be respected and recognised for what they are, and we should be aware of both when experiencing either. They wouldn’t exist without their counterparts.

However, over the past decade some of that optimism seems to have been withered with time. It is still their on some tracks, but not as bright. Instrumentally the band has turned to darker textures which have reflected the less positive themes found in the Lyrics.

I thought this may have changed with their previous more whimsical album “Kings Mouth” but it has returned in spades with their latest record “American Head”. Its sounds like a very personal album this time around. The Lyrics repeatedly focus around the interactions of a family as it goes through some difficult emotional struggles and life changing events.

“Mother I’ve Taken L.S.D” is the track that stood out to me most on first listen. It exemplifies the darker and less hopeful contexts found the majority of the more recent flaming lips work. It also provides a great starting point for listeners to get a rough idea of the themes found on the album.

“American Head” is another great album from the flaming lips, A complete work that continues it’s themes throughout. It adds to a back catalogue of varied and wonderful records that all do the same. If you are new to The Flaming Lips then I would probably start with either “the soft bulletin” or “yoshimi battles the pink robots”. But If you’ve heard there stuff before but would like to dip into what their latest record is like “Mother I’ve Taken L.S.D” is a great place to start:


TOTW Playlist:

TOTW: William S Fischer_Chains

For those who haven’t heard of the “Late Night Tales” compilations, the concept is fairly simple. Artists are asked to create a late night playlist of their favorite music along with an exclusive cover of a song from the artist themselves.

This then gets released as a CD compilation album with the “Late Night Tales” moniker. It has resulted is some fantastic compilation albums, which have introduced me to many acts.

This is especially true of “This Years Floating Points” compilation, which takes you through a collection of down tempo jazz, soul and ambient electronic music. The whole album is full of gems that flow together perfectly, making it well worth a listen. I especially like the track “Chains” by “William S Ficher”.

This track blends string arrangements with jazz to create a woozy sound that is perfectly suited to a late night playlist. If you like what you hear, give the whole album a try and if you’re still interested, the other “Late Night Tales” collections are well worth a listen. A personal favourite is the Flaming Lips compilation.


TOTW Playlist:

TOTW: The Flaming Lips_ How Many Times

The Flaming Lips have finally put their latest album, “The King’s Mouth,” on larger release and streaming services. This follows on from its limited edition vinyl run on record store day.

Although they have dabbled with concept albums on a more generalised thematic level up to now, “The Kings Mouth” is the first direct concept album with lyrics and spoken word elements mixing with the music. It tells an odd fairy tale that could only come from front man Wayne Coynes head.

The album returns to the whimsy, and even features some sound elements of their album “Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots.” This moves away from the darker trajectory of the past couple of albums. Its a sound that The Flaming Lips and their producer Dave Fridmann have perfected over the years, and suits the albums narrative well.

The large, digital orchestration of samplers and synthesizers create a world that is bathed in optimism. Every cloud, no matter how big and dark, has a silver lining. This leads to a playful album, full of great songs and psych rock instrumentals.

For an individual track “how many times” is a great place to start. It balances the fine line between playfulness and jollity without sounding too saccharin and twee. It is a skill very few bands achieve and The Flaming Lips are masters of. Consider this track an aperitif to an album that’s well worth your time:



TOTW Playlist:

TOTW: The Flaming Lips- Silver Trembling Hands

The Flaming Lips are probably my favorite band. I have listened to them on and off since my mid teens and each time I go back to their work i find more things to love. Their experimental use of composition and instrumentation, mixed with lyrics that manage to talk about the human condition but in a often more cerebral and surreal way, creates a unique world that’s often imitated but never re-created.

I started listening to them again recently because of the podcast “Sorcerer’s Orphan” where Steven Drozed and other current/ex members of the flaming lips break down individual tracks to tell you how they were made and the ideas behind the process. For a fan it’s a great insight into many of the tracks. It’s well worth a listen for anyone who’s interested in The Flaming Lips or song construction in general.

There are many tracks to recommend from their back catalog and I have recommend several I the past. However, Looking back through my blog posts on the Flaming Lips the first track that stood out to me as missing was “Silver Trembling Hands” So I had to rectify this now by making it my track of the week.

“Silver Trembling hands” manages to have one of my favorite changes in music. The verses are drum lead aggressive pieces of tension and momentum that melt away into masses of tape delay and reverb in the choruses, Reminiscent of some of the greatest moments from Pink Floyd. Its a true joy that gets me every time I hear the track. I hope you get as much from it as I do:


TOTW Playlist:

TOTW: The Flaming Lips_ Oczy Mlody

The Flaming Lips latest album opens with an instrumental track of the same name Oczy Mlody.

A bitter-sweet synth lead provides focus for the other drifting instrumentals which vary from the traditional Bass Guitar, to the surreal warping guitars and tape echo. Which is used more as an instrument than an effect as it creates time warping ping pong style percussive delays.

When I first started to listen to the Flaming lips they portrayed this world of vibrant Joy. Even in their darker moments the tracks always felt as sweet as candy canes, a bright kaleidoscope of colours and imagery. It’s still there but muted now, The sun is setting on a world where anything fantastical could and would happen and with it comes the shadows. There is hope in the music but with all hope there is doubt. A doubt that the sun will come up again.

This is what always excites me about a new release from The Flaming Lips. They have created their own style and sound over years and are so comfortable with it that no matter which direction they take it in to reflect their current situation it still stays iconic to them. Oczy Mlody is another step in their journey and well worth your time:


TOTW Playlist:

TOTW: The Flaming Lips_In The Morning Of The Magicians

The Flaming Lips have been on of my favourite bands for years, however my introduction to them was quite late in their career. I first heard them through their most commercially successful album (In the UK) Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots and was blown away by the lush instrumentation and expansive vision of the band. It stands as a great place to get into the band as it represents the perfection of a sound both the band and their producer  Dave Fridman had spent years developing.

In The Morning Of The Magicians is a perfect example of this. If Phil Spector is known for creating “The Wall of Sound” where multiple instruments are layered to create massively powerful textures. Dave Fridmann should be known as creating a “collage of sound” where complexity in instrumentation and melody rules. If you take an analytical ear to this track for a play through and think about how many instruments/sounds happen you’ll quickly be dumfounded by its intricacy. A sound that moved with Dave Fridmann to other successful albums like Oracular Spectacular by MGMT.

This level of intricacy in the music can only work with an incredible mix. With so many textures of instrumentation going on at the same time it could very quickly turn into a mess without the incredible use of a keen ear. Instruments are panned across the stereo field and carefully blended together to bring the important textures to the foreground at the times they’re needed.

I still hold this up as one of the best mixes I’ve heard and listen to it regularly as a reference point to aim for. But even if you ignore it for its technically creative decisions you’re still left with a great piece of music that holds its own. Stripping the track away to its core leaves you with a traditional singer songwriter piece on vocals and acoustic guitar which focuses on Wayne Coynes introspection, a theme that feeds the entirety of the album.

I would recommend the entirety of the album but this lesser known track is on of my favourites so give it a listen:



Spotify TOTW Playlist:

TOTW: The Flamig lips_7 Skies H3 (Can’t Shut Off My Head)

I have already written quite a long article about my love of the Flaming Lips in a previous TOTW. needless to say I’m a great believer in their artistic flourishes no matter where they go I will always respect what they do even when it doesn’t work.

The CD version of 7 Skies H3 is the condensed form of a 24 hour-long live recording they released on flash drives encased in real human skulls for Halloween 2011. It is far more raw than most of the flaming lips other work in many ways from its recording to its arranging and the opening track is all the better for it.

In (Can’t Shut Off My Head) were treated to something more morose than most of the flaming lips catalogue of music up to this point. Sounds we hear in their later album entitled The Terror seem to have grown from the seeds of 7 Skies H3. Vocals of loss and morning by Wayne Coyne cry out with little upside or hope and are accompanied by detuning instrumentation, dark synth pads and a slightly distorted guitar as the main instrumental focus. Between verses a simple yet dominating lead synth line wafts into the track with elements of despair and regret. The whole track completely opposes the silver lining elements that had existed in previous flaming lips music, wether it be lyrically or in production for over a decade.

It may be darker and rough around the edges but I still find the album and this track captivating. The Flaming Lips have always managed to push in directions you would never expect them to and I look forward to being surprised by them again in the future:

TOTW: The Flaming Lips_ Sound of Failure

I have been doing this blog now for over 3 years and looking back on It’s history there is one band that I haven’t covered as much as I should have, It’s time to rectify this.

I first heard The Flaming Lips on the UK release of Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots so I would have been around the age of 15 and I instantly fell in love with the album. In time this love grew to their entire back catalogue, from their early drug fuelled punk/grunge through to their development In more progressive, psychedelic and experimental rock. They have been a soundtrack for nearly half my life. The highs and lows have all been accompanied by their music and on one amazing occasion, my life and the band collided when I got to go on stage with them at the Manchester Apollo and dance like a nutter dressed as Santa. A memory that will be with me for the rest of my life.

It was in this brief few hours that my thoughts towards making music changed. I had always loved music and used to enjoy playing instruments, this was crushed by bad experiences in education but I remember vividly thinking on stage as I jumped up and down that, although this was a surreal experience it was also real. That performing in front of thousands of people was possible and making music was for everyone. This is one of the key events, which turned me back from just a lover of music to a creator. To put it quite simply, without The Flaming Lips there wouldn’t be this website.

But without this experience I would still be a fan of The Flaming Lips because of their music. If you haven’t given them the time of day you should. This is a band that have never restrained their creative freedom or let what other people think get in the way of what they make. They have often attempted to make projects that are hugely ambitious both technically and creatively and amazingly most of the time achieve them successfully without over-stretching.

As someone who is into production of music The Flaming Lips and their producer Dave Fridmann have offered it in spades with interesting, creative and often fresh methods of sound design and mixing. This works well with a band whose lyrics vary into some really alternative and strange territories but are always rooted in lead singer Wayne Coynes profound understanding of the human condition.

This leads us to my TOTW “Sound Of Failure” although it’s not one of their most well-known tracks it is one of my favourites and manages to summarise what I love most about the band in its runtime. We get a large verity of orchestration and textures throughout, from synthesised elements of the orchestra, both electric and organic drums, guitars, and many layers of vocal overdubbing with unique processing techniques.

These vocals tell a story of a girl who is introspectively contemplating the death of a friend but Wayne Coyne looks at the situation in a more complicated way than most song writers with maturity that can only stem from experience. Instead of a one-sided view that we usually hear which will be aimed towards one emotion or feeling such as Hate, Anger or Love we get a mix of complex emotions. The sense of loss of a friend but also the power of resolve and growing through acceptance and self-reflection. It also references music that doesn’t handle these feelings with the lyrics “go tell Britney and go tell Gwen. She’s not trying to go against all them” which exemplifies how a lot of pop music simplifies human emotions which are always more complicated.

It’s this empathy in humanity that has always attracted me to Wayne Coynes lyrics and the music of the flaming lips. Under all the grand external stories of priest driven ambulances, wars with giant pink robots, time travellers, magicians, psychedelic monsters etc. There is always, incredibly well thought out internal struggles with the characters involved which anyone will be able to relate to.

The Flaming Lips manage to be both one of the most creative experimental pop rock bands out there whilst also creating music that deals with subjects that are both surreal and insightful. They will continue to be the soundtrack to my life as I get older and are one of the few acts I will listen to everything they create because even when it doesn’t work it is always full of great ideas and when it does work their tracks can be about as perfect as music can be:

TOTW: The Flaming Lips_ Feeling Yourself Disintergrate

I Have been a huge fan of the Flaming Lips since Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots came out. Listening to their whole back catalogue they have always done a collection of weird and wonderful music, The track Feeling Yourself disintegrate comes from their album the Soft Bulletin and is a great song for lazy summer days with a cold beer: