OCT/NOV 2002

THE FLAMING LIPS Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (Reprise) How in the world do you follow what many critics have described as the best album of the last decade? Being the contrary artists they obviously are, the Flaming Lips have opted to step back somewhat from the dense, kaleidoscopic trip that was The Soft Bulletin to draw from the beauty of simple pop dreaming found on Clouds Taste Metallic. That to me is where Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots stands in the Lips scheme of things. Still chock full of melodies to dry your eyes to - "In the Morning of the Magicians," "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots pt.1," "Do You Realize??" and "All We Have Is Now" and evoking the finest that pop perfection ever had to offer - Brian Wilson, John Lennon, Phil Spector, Neil Young, Syd Barrett, John Cale, Jeff Lynne, Yoshimi proves that The Flaming Lips remain at the summit of pop mastery. Not the masterpiece that The Soft Bulletin was (some of the leftfield moments tend to jar with self-indulgence) but still astonishingly essential. A
MYRACLE BRAH Bleeder (Rainbow Quartz/Not Lame)
In 1998, Andy Bopp birthed Myracle Brah as a side project to his main gig with Love Nut. Fortunately for power pop fans, the vacation has been a permanent one with Bleeder the fourth Brah release in five years. Containing all the hallmarks of Brah material - pointed early '70s rock (think: Bowie, Badfinger, Rundgren, Gilmour + Waters) infused with a distinctive Lennonesque edge, Bleeder is a more consistent effort overall than the last outing The Myracle Brah. The Macca cover,  "Too Many People" even sounds uncannily like Lennon! Lots to thrill to here - the atmospheric "Song 37," the austere folky "Misfortune #1," the stomping "Superwannabe," the vivid punk-poppy "Orange Shirt" and the swinging "Broken." Aided and abetted by the capable talents of Joe Parsons, Dennis Schocket and Paul Krysiak (hi Paul!), Bleeder is as with the classic Life on Planet Eartsnop, a brilliant snapshot of the musical world of Andy Bopp, where all the possibilities of pop are explored. A 
THE SOFT BOYS Next door Land (Matador)
A new Soft Boys album? At one time thought impossible but certainly the idea did come to  mind when it was first announced that this revered cult band were reuniting for a live tour. Coming a mere 22 years after their last masterpiece Underwater Moonlight, it is worth the wait! The nucleus remains the genius of Robyn Hitchcock, melded with the unique synergy of guitarist Kim Rew and rhythm section Morris Seligman and Morris Windsor. Still best described as the Beefheart Byrds, Hitchcock's trademark Lennonesque whimsy and Barretesque quirkiness is complemented by Rew's distinctive guitarwork, resulting in some of the finest recent work from the two gents viz. the psychedelic folky "Mr. Kennedy,"  the Diddley rave-up "Unprotected Love," the bizarro stomp "Strings," the shimmering "La Cherite" and the energetic "Lions and Tigers." Best part of all - it righteously ROCKS! Welcome back, boys, you have been missed. A 
SILVERCHAIR Diorama (Eleven)
Who would have thought this possible? Like everyone else, I would have never expected such an impressive effort from these Aussie boys who thus far have delivered risible grunge-lite fare. Believe the hype - Silverchair fully deserves the best improved band award with this ambitious work with its emphasis on lush orchestral arrangements, pure pop melodies - the chorus on "The Greatest View" is simply gorgeous - and a healthy respect for its pop-rock  forebears. So expect to be thrilled & excited by the majestic "Across The Night," the invigorating "Without You," the heartfelt "World Upon Your Shoulders," the easy-going "Too Much of Not Enough" & touching ballad "After All These Years." The jewel in the crown is undoubtedly the well-conceived and executed "The Greatest View" with its lusty metal riffs topped with one the year's most memorable hooks (reminiscent of powerpop faves Badfinger no less). Special mention must be made of Daniel John's vocals, which carried well the challenge presented by the change in style. What a pleasant surprise! A