Posts Tagged ‘Dave Fridmann’


Once Wayne Coyne saw Runnin’ Down a Dream, a 2007 documentary on Tom Petty, he became fixated on a stop Tom Petty made through Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1974 and his recording in that city with the earliest inception of the Heartbreakers—along with Belmont Tench and Mike Campbell—as Mudcrutch.  Manoeuvering through imagined scenarios and what-ifs, the Flaming Lips frontman became caught in some imaginary realm between his Oklahoma upbringing, the current state of America, and an imaginary jam session with the late rock legend. Imagine if the Lips were a local Oklahoma band that befriended Petty in his pre-Heartbreakers days—or what if Tom and company were pulled into the seedier side of Tulsa, shifting the course of rock history as we know it?

Running down a rabbit hole of reflections, the Lips’ sixteenth album “American Head” drifts through the singer’s wild imagination, exploring addiction and mental health in its drug-induced Americana. “As we destroy our brains / ’Til we believe we’re dead / It’s the American dream,” Coyne sings on “At the Movies on Quaaludes” before the more revelatory “Now I see the sadness in the world / I’m sorry I didn’t see it before” on “Mother I’ve Taken LSD.” Following up  Lip$haa proposed 2014 album with Kesha, and collaborating on the psych-pop experiment Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz in 2015, for American Head, the Lips cozied up to Kacey Musgraves for some feminine texture on three of the record’s tracks. Only The Flaming Lips could conjure up their American Head narrative, mixing loosely based recollections, romanticized tales…and the state of the country as we think we know it.

American Legends The Flaming Lips are pleased to announce the release of their 21st studio album, American Head released on September 11th via Bella Union. The album is comprised of thirteen new cinematic tracks, produced by long time collaborator Dave Fridmann and The Lips. Among them, “God and the Policeman” featuring backing vocals from country superstar Kasey Musgraves. American Head takes on a welcome temporal shift that occupies a similar space to that of The Soft Bulletin or Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots and just may be their most beautiful and consistent work to date

American Head finds The Flaming Lips basking in more reflective lyrical places as Wayne Coyne explains in a longer form story titled “We’re An American Band.”  Excerpt below:

The Flaming Lips are from Oklahoma. We never thought of ourselves as a band. I know growing up (when I was like 6 or 7 years old) in Oklahoma I was never influenced by, or was very aware of any musicians from Oklahoma. We mostly listened to the Beatles and my mother loved Tom Jones (this is in the 60’s)… it wasn’t till I was about 10 or 11 that my older brothers would know a few of the local musician dudes.

So… for most of our musical life (as The Flaming Lips starting in 1983) we’ve kind of thought of ourselves as coming from ‘Earth’… not really caring Where we were actually from. So for the first time in our musical life we began to think of ourselves as ‘AN AMERICAN BAND’… telling ourselves that it would be our identity for our next creative adventure. We had become a 7-piece ensemble and were beginning to feel more and more of a kinship with groups that have a lot of members in them. We started to think of classic American bands like The Grateful Dead and Parliament-Funkadelic and how maybe we could embrace this new vibe.

The music and songs that make up the American Head album are based in a feeling. A feeling that, I think, can only be expressed through music and songs. We were, while creating it, trying to NOT hear it as sounds… but to feel it. Mother’s sacrifice, Father’s intensity, Brother’s insanity, Sister’s rebellion…I can’t quite put it into words.

Something switches and others (your brothers and sisters and mother and father…your pets) start to become more important to you…in the beginning there is only you… and your desires are all that you can care about…but… something switches.. I think all of these songs are about this little switch.”

The Flaming Lips return on Bella Union Records with American Head, their 21st studio album. They’ve pulled off a masterstroke here, it retains all of their bubbling psychedelics, whilst sounding more introspective or reflective than they have in years. It’s a cracking set of songs and very pretty too.

flaming lips

Before Weezer released Pinkerton — the initially-misunderstood album that eventually became rightfully recognized as the band’s masterpiece — they were working on Songs From the Black Hole, a space-themed science fiction rock opera with guest vocals by Rachel Haden and Joan Wasser that was eventually abandoned, with some songs ending up on Pinkerton, others surfacing over the years, and others still in the vault or unfinished. Just judging by what does exist of it, it’s one of the great “lost” albums in rock history, and Weezer never attempted anything like it since. The post-Pinkerton, Matt Sharp-less version of the band has almost never neared the heights of the band’s classic ’90s era, though Matt Sharp’s band The Rentals have. Their 2014 reunion album “Lost In Alphaville” (released on Polyvinyl) was the album that those of us who wanted another Blue Album were waiting for, and with the self-released Q36 — The Rentals’ first new album in six years – they just may have made their Songs From the Black Hole.

The Rentals’ lineup is now Matt Sharp with Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist Nick Zinner and The Killers drummer Ronnie Vanucci, and they made this album with frequent Flaming Lips collaborator Dave Fridmann as mixing engineer and guest vocal contributions from The Gentle Assassins Choir, School of Seven Bells’ Alejandra Deheza, and others. Fridmann especially is a perfect fit for Q36; Lost In Alphaville sounded like crunchy, punchy, power-poppy ’90s Rentals but Q36 is a soaring, adventurous psychedelic pop album that sounds like Matt Sharp’s very own Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. And, lyrically, it’s a space-themed science fiction concept album.


Each of the 16 songs on this double album tells its own story — with inspiration coming from real-life occurrences like Apollo 11 (“Forgotten Astronaut”) and the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster (“Great Big Blue”), as well as hypothetical, apocalyptic scenarios that fall under “science fiction” but aren’t so impossible to imagine these days — and Matt chose to introduce these stories to the world by releasing one song at a time over the past few months. Together, the 16 songs of Q36 make something that genuinely earns the term “epic.” It’s by far the most ambitious music that Matt Sharp has ever released, and he pulls it off. The Rentals’ first reunion album proved they could still churn out quality versions of the music they made in the ’90s, but I don’t know who could’ve predicted Matt would return six years later with a star-studded line up and an album that is both literally and figuratively out of this world. This is the kind of album that music nerds dream up when they’re shooting the breeze about hypothetical supergroups and album concepts that will never exist. But I promise you’re not dreaming, Q36 really does exist, and it’s as great as it sounds like it’d be. Surely “Q36” is Matt’s magnum opus. I was unsure at first as the singles came out but one by one it turned into a masterpiece!.

The space western theme is a story on it’s own.

Released June 26th, 2020

(Singer, Songwriter; Producer) Matt Sharp
(Guitarist) Nick Zinner
(Drummer) Ronnie Vannucci