"Arabia Mountain," the sixth studio album and fourth Vice Records release by the Black Lips, finds the hell-raising Atlanta quartet digging deep into the roots of their exposed-nerve sound and simultaneously exploring surprising new possibilities in their music - or as one of their new songs puts it, "lookin' in a new direction." Singer-guitarist Cole Alexander explains, "We tried to do what we do best, and keep it raw, but we also opened up to working with a producer and experimenting with new sounds. We tried to keep doing what we’re doing, while expanding and growing at the same time."
The Lips - Alexander, singer-bassist Jared Swilley, singer-guitarist Ian St. Pe, and singer-drummer Joe Bradley - had never collaborated with a producer before embarking on their current album. This time, however, the band set out to work with one of the producers on their short list: Mark Ronson, the English producer known for both his sharply-honed solo albums Version and Record Collection and his production work for the likes of Sean Paul, Nas, Adele, Kaiser Chiefs, Duran Duran, Lily Allen, and most notably U.K. soul-pop diva Amy Winehouse's international breakthrough "Back to Black."
While the Lips have by no means turned their backs on the storming punk and garage-rock that is the core of their confrontational style, working with Ronson allowed them to work at a more relaxed pace and refine their song-oriented side.
While straight-ahead revved-up rock is not in short supply, the new collection pushes the band's stylistic boundaries. "Family Tree" found its musical inspiration in a Bolivian folk tune heard on a compilation produced by the eclectic Atlanta label Dust-to-Digital. "Dumpster Dive" is a full-on plunge into Rolling Stones-style country. And "Don't Mess My Baby" uses tribal drumming to convert a song that began life as Bobby Fuller-styled pop-rockabilly into something approaching South African township jive.