Atlanta garage-rockers Black Lips team with Mark Ronson for gritty, eclectic new album 'Arabia Mountain'

Pairing Black Lips with Mark Ronson was a stroke of genius: the English musician/DJ/producer has a retro sensibility that perfectly matches the Atlanta band’s rollicking garage-rock sound.

Ronson produced all but two tracks on Black Lips’ latest, “Arabia Mountain” (out June 7 on Vice). It’s a loose-jointed blast of old-school rock ’n’ roll, piled high with dirt and sweat on 16 full-throttle songs. The band has honed that sound pretty well by itself on five previous albums (and one with King Khan & BBQ) as the Almighty Defenders), but Ronson helps the foursome focus. Well, sort of. Musically, at least.

It’s about as good sounding a lo-fi record as you’ll ever hear, with liberal use of reverb on vocals, and guitars jacked up to a warm, overdriven distortion. In the same way that that early rock ’n’ roll chronicled the aimless, undefined yearnings of youth, Black Lips sings about nothing in particular and makes it sound cool.

“Bicentennial Man” is a come-on with no promises, “Spidey’s Curse” weighs Peter Parker’s burden, “Dumpster Dive” muses over mining trash for treasure with a Stonesy country-rock vibe circa “Sticky Fingers,” and “Noc-A-Homa” pays questionable tribute to the Atlanta Braves’ Native American mascot in the ’80s.

Along with gritty guitars, there’s braying saxophone on opener “Family Tree,” saw on a trio of songs including “Raw Meat,” and theremin, courtesy of an uncredited Sean Lennon, on “Bone Marrow.”

If all of that sounds eclectic, it is. But we all know that rock ’n’ roll is made for windows-down summer soundtracks, and there’s no better abum to start your summer off right.

— Eric R. Danton

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