A new al­bum from The Black Lips

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Young, dumb, and snotty is noth­ing to be ashamed of in the punk rock racket. There’s a lot you can do with it. And The Black Lips play that card bet­ter than most — though they’ve been around long enough that the “young” part of that equa­tion doesn’t quite fit as it used to. But on their new al­bum — their eighth — Satan’s Graf­fiti or God’s Art?, the Lips show that young, dumb, and snotty is just a part of the band’s weird charm. Pro­duced by Sean Ono Len­non, Satan’s Graf­fiti is a crazed pogo-stick hop through the cos­mos. I’ve liked just about all Black Lips al­bums, but to these ears, this is their best since their 2007 live in Ti­juana record, Los Valientes del Mundo Nuevo.

The al­bum starts on a de­cep­tive note with a strange, dis­turbingly mel­low lit­tle in­stru­men­tal called “Over­ture: Sun­day Mourn­ing,” fea­tur­ing a sweet, sleazy sax by new Lips mem­ber Zumi Rosow. But that quickly fades to make way for a gal­lop­ing rocker called “Oc­ci­den­tal Front.” When singer Coles Alexan­der come on with the first verse, the melody sounds vaguely fa­mil­iar. Is it Dock Boggs’ rasty old “Coun­try Blues”? Or is it that mean-eyed mur­der bal­lad “Wild Bill Jones,” turbo-charged with elec­tric gui­tars? Lis­ten close and you’ll hear her bad self Yoko Ono scream­ing in the back­ground.

Vir­tu­ally ev­ery track is a new ad­ven­ture. “Can’t Hold On” is a de­cent hard rocker, though the last minute or so slows down, be­com­ing a New Or­leans jazz funeral dirge. “Squat­ting in Heaven” be­gins with a bouncy rhythm and re­peat­ing gui­tar line — or is that Rosow’s sax? — that could be the sonic equiv­a­lent of an in­sect sting be­fore set­tling in as riff-heavy blues-rock rum­ble. “Rebel In­tu­ition” is mu­tated rock­a­billy and “Lu­cid Night­mare” is tribal psy­che­delic punk, while “In My Mind There’s a Dream” could be Por­tishead reimag­ined as garage rock. And there is even a cover of an early Bea­tles song, “It Won’t Be Long,” which evokes vi­sions of The Black Lips per­form­ing with toi­let seats around their necks at some Ham­burg dive bar for drunken sailors and off-duty strip­pers.

By far, the most star­tling tune on Satan’s Graf­fiti is a pretty lit­tle love song called “Crys­tal Night.” There is no men­tion of Nazis or re­li­gious per­se­cu­tion, but it couldn’t be clearer that this is about Kristall­nacht, the Night of Bro­ken Glass that took place Nov. 9-10, 1938, in which storm troop­ers and Ger­man civil­ians at­tacked Jewish homes and busi­nesses. The Lips sing, “Where do they take you?/Where have you gone? … We never said good­bye/Now you’re sent to die/On crys­tal night.”

Some re­view­ers have crit­i­cized The Black Lips for their ev­ery­thing-but-the-kitchen-sink crazi­ness dis­played on this al­bum, with its jar­ring shifts in styles and at­mos­pheres from song to song. But I find it re­fresh­ing, and in the end, Satan’s Graf­fiti or God’s

Art? finds co­her­ence in its in­co­her­ence, hit­ting all kinds of tar­gets with its scat­ter­gun ap­proach.

The Santa Fe Tra­di­tional Mu­sic Fes­ti­val re­turns First of all, I think some dis­clo­sure is in or­der. This is jour­nal­ism, and they make us have ethics and stuff. So here is my per­sonal con­nec­tion to this fes­ti­val: Back in 1985 (or maybe it was 1986?), when this event was known as the Santa Fe Fid­dle and Banjo Con­test, some bud­dies and I de­cided to form a blue­grass band in the park­ing lot on the day of the fes­ti­val. (I think the fest was just one day back then.) Call­ing our­selves Smilin’ Ted and The Blue­grass Bird Be­ings, we re­hearsed two songs — blue­grass ver­sions of Johnny Hor­ton’s “North to Alaska” and my own “Cook Yer En­chi­ladas.” Much to my sur­prise — and to the cha­grin of some se­ri­ous blue­grass artistes who had en­tered — we won first prize in the Professional Blue­grass Band Divi­sion! Not in­clud­ing my­self, there were some se­ri­ously ta­lented in­stru­men­tal­ists in the Bird Be­ings lineup. But I hon­estly think what won us the tro­phy was my daugh­ter, age four or five at the time, who danced as our go-go girl.

But that’s nei­ther here nor there. The news is that the Santa Fe Tra­di­tional Mu­sic Fes­ti­val is back in the Santa Fe area again, from Aug. 25 through Aug. 27 at Camp Stoney, 7855 Old Santa Fe Trail.

Ac­tu­ally, it’s more com­pli­cated than that. Last year, South­west Pick­ers, the non­profit group that’s run the show for years, moved the fes­ti­val up to Red River, where their own South­west Pick­ers Blue­grass and Old Time Mu­sic Fes­ti­val will take place from Sept. 14 to Sept. 17. The Au­gust fes­ti­val at Camp Stoney is spon­sored by a new group, the Santa Fe Friends of Tra­di­tional Mu­sic, along with Out­side In Pro­duc­tions — the same folks who bring us Santa Fe Band­stand ev­ery sum­mer. Who­ever is in charge, the line-up looks fan­tas­tic. There will be a re­union of El­liott’s Ram­blers, led by for­mer New Mex­i­can El­liott Rogers. Also ap­pear­ing are some of the state’s finest old-timey, blue­grass, and other tra­di­tional bands: Bayou Seco, Higher Ground, Lone Piñon, Adobe Broth­ers, The Fast Peso String Band, Round Moun­tain, Mari­achi Bue­naven­tura, and oth­ers. (Ru­mors of a Smilin’ Ted re­union, how­ever, are noth­ing but ir­re­spon­si­ble spec­u­la­tion.)

Tick­ets are $45 for all three days, though you also can buy tick­ets for sin­gle days. For a com­plete sched­ule and ticket in­for­ma­tion, see www.sf­trad­mu­sic .com/mu­sic-fes­ti­val-1.

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