Taking Sides: Flaming Lips vs. Mercury Rev

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Hard to believe this hasn't been done before.

So? What do you reckon?

Stewart Osborne (Stewart Osborne), Thursday, 4 December 2003 13:52 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

i think it has been done. i'll try and find it.

to answer the question:

flaming lips only have one really good album: "The Soft Bulletin". the stuff prior to that is very patchy indeed - great tracks dotted here and there (Lightning strikes the postman, ...smilin' deathporn immortality blues, she don't use jelly), but a lot of endurance-testing fuzz-rock, and really painfully bad singing. on "yoshimi", they've still got the tunes, and they benefit from keeping the cleaner production, but the whole childlike-sense-of wonder schtick starts to feel a little contrived.

mercury rev have three classics - yerself is steam, see you on the other side, deserter's songs (it gets a very hard ride on ILM imho). they always sound more accomplished than flaming lips (even when they're being noisy). they're the better band, i feel. "all is dream" was a little dull - if you have deserter's songs, there's no reason for you to bother with that one. otherwise - it's a rich and varied catalogue.

weasel diesel (K1l14n), Thursday, 4 December 2003 14:05 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Mercury Rev, Flaming Lips

weasel diesel (K1l14n), Thursday, 4 December 2003 14:06 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

I saw that thanks Kilian - it wasn't a "taking sides" 'though but was concentrating on (just) one of the similarities between the two bands....

Stewart Osborne (Stewart Osborne), Thursday, 4 December 2003 14:10 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

The problem here is that the best Flaming Lips album is "In A Priest Driven Ambulence" which sounds nothing like Mercury Rev (which is funny, since there's a MR member on the album).

dlp9001, Thursday, 4 December 2003 14:54 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Mercury Rev. Love "The Soft Bulletin" and "Yoshimi" (anyone care to recommend some other Lips stuff that is similar to this as I'm kinda unfamiliar with the older stuff. Isn't there a good song about a girl who washes her hair with Tangerines? Help!) but "Deserters Songs" and "All is Dream" knocks socks of either. "See you on the Other Side" is less impressive.

C-Man (C-Man), Thursday, 4 December 2003 15:06 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

sharks jumped
many years ago

coffee table music
how different really
from coldplay?

charltonlido (gareth), Thursday, 4 December 2003 15:07 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

I'll take the Laming Flips cause they did Zaireeka. Though Yerself Is Steam is better than anything else between the two.

Johnny Badlees (crispssssss), Thursday, 4 December 2003 15:08 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

"(anyone care to recommend some other Lips stuff that is similar to this as I'm kinda unfamiliar with the older stuff"

You've heard their best stuff, to be honest. I think you'll find anything else pretty disappointing.

"Isn't there a good song about a girl who washes her hair with Tangerines? Help!)"

She Don't Use Jelly. It's on "Transmissions from the Satellite Heart". If you feel the need to buy another flips record, you'll find 4 or 5 excellent pop songs on that one.

weasel diesel (K1l14n), Thursday, 4 December 2003 15:11 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Boces is my favourite Mercury Rev album. I'd go as far as to say that "Downs Are Feminine Balloons" is their best track. Yes that Seasme Street type voice of Wayne Coyne got very annoying by The Soft Bulletin.

David Gunnip (David Gunnip), Thursday, 4 December 2003 15:59 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

My current stance on this issue is kind of lazy so I'll go solely by the success of each band's Chemical Brothers collaboration. "Private Psychedelic Reel" >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> "The Golden Path". Mercury Rev wins.

nate detritus (natedetritus), Thursday, 4 December 2003 16:48 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

The Flaming Lips, easy. Though their best album, "In A Priest Driven Ambulance" has that Rev guy all over it. Basically the Lips have better SONGS even if the sounds are super similar.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Thursday, 4 December 2003 19:27 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

I threw on Deserter's Songs the other day and man some of those fake strings sound like goddamn video game music. The faux-orchestra stuff on The Soft Bulletin is way better (compare "Tonite It Shows" to "What Is The Light?").

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Thursday, 4 December 2003 19:28 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

the Rev are better in most respects. they're less prone to lapse into schmaltz for a start

the surface noise (electricsound), Friday, 5 December 2003 03:59 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev are clearly on the same side. I'll take whoever's on the other side.

spittle (spittle), Friday, 5 December 2003 05:37 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

the Lips.
yes, the Lips
for reasons that must remain a mystery.

Orbit (Orbit), Friday, 5 December 2003 05:39 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

three months pass...
Can listen to the Rev ad infinitum, but can't get through a damn Lips album even once. Sorry, but Rev no contest.

Girolamo Savonarola, Friday, 5 March 2004 04:28 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

THE FLIPS THE FLIPS THE MOTHERFUCKING FLIPS!!!!!!!!!

Did Mercury Rev ever write a song as beautiful and funny as "The Southern Oklahoma Cosmic Trigger Contest"? Did they ever give cool names to their songs, like "Talkin' 'Bout the Smiling Deathporn Immortality Blues (Everyone Wants to Live Forever)," "The Gash (Batthe Hymn for the Wounded Mathematician)," and "Pilot Can At the Queer of God"? Did they ever release a 4CD box set where all four CDs are to be played simultaneously? Did they ever have a concert where they brought you a headphone set to wear and then you tuned into a local radio station to hear the music? No they bloody did not.

Mr. Snrub (Mr. Snrub), Friday, 5 March 2004 04:46 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

thank god

the surface noise (electricsound), Friday, 5 March 2004 05:04 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Deserter's Songs deserves the hardest of rides -- it was easy lee the most overhyped record of that year. Other than "Goddess On A Highway," they don't really have a way with a tune...

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Friday, 5 March 2004 05:08 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

The last couple Flaming Lips albums have made me realize that they've actually been annoying all along. (After having loved them up to a point.)

Andy K (Andy K), Friday, 5 March 2004 05:25 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Andy K on the money.

Boces and Yerself Is Steam both LEAGUES above any Flipshit

Aaron A., Friday, 5 March 2004 05:32 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

I'll go with Mercury Rev, if we promise to forget All is Dream. If we have to include that piece of shit, I guess I go with Flaming Lips.

The Second Drummer Drowned (Atila the Honeybun), Friday, 5 March 2004 06:50 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

i dont care. i love the flaming lips.
the soft bulletin is quite possibly my favorite album ever, please dont kill me :)

mercury rev is just ok, so i pick the flaming lips.

todd swiss (eliti), Friday, 5 March 2004 07:00 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

I dunno, I'm sort of burnt out on both of them, I'd have to pick lips. That said, I think Yoshimi is nowhere near as good as Soft Bulletin and I fear the next one will follow the same path.

Elliot (Elliot), Friday, 5 March 2004 08:58 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Both were great back in the day. Both suck now. Moral of the story: all you hippies should keep doing lots of drugs instead of sobering up and writing songs about how beautiful and precious life is.

Nick Mirov (nick), Friday, 5 March 2004 09:44 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Did they ever give cool names to their songs, like "Talkin' 'Bout the Smiling Deathporn Immortality Blues (Everyone Wants to Live Forever)," "The Gash (Batthe Hymn for the Wounded Mathematician)," and "Pilot Can At the Queer of God"? Did they ever release a 4CD box set where all four CDs are to be played simultaneously? Did they ever have a concert where they brought you a headphone set to wear and then you tuned into a local radio station to hear the music? No they bloody did not.

What Mercury Rev obviously did not do was create gimmicks like that, knowing that you'd swoon over such things regardless of actual effect. Which is not to say that the above are necessarily shit, just that you're defending them for being as such and not for being GOOD. I don't care if the Lips planted flags in random places. Anyone can do that.

Girolamo Savonarola, Friday, 5 March 2004 14:51 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

People slag Yoshimi, but that record is one of the deepest and most profound meditations on the meaning of death I've ever heard. If that's a gimmick, so be it.

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Friday, 5 March 2004 15:26 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

"Do You Realize" and "Yoshimi vs the Pink Robots" are both better than any Mercury Rev track.

Otherwise, I pick Mercury Rev.

Barry Bruner (Barry Bruner), Friday, 5 March 2004 17:44 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

I like Rev for what they've done (first 2 albums) and the Lips for where they're going (last 2 albums).

christoff (christoff), Friday, 5 March 2004 18:26 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

what in the fuck did the nme think they were doing when they said deserter's songs was record of the year. I know they shamelessly bandwagon, but what wagon where they trying to jump on??

PSYCH POP IS THE NEW LADDISM. MAD FOR IT.

bill stevens (bscrubbins), Friday, 5 March 2004 18:30 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

two months pass...
There is more beauty and dread in a random five-minute snippet of Yrself Is Steam than in all of the Flaming Lips I've ever heard, combined. Well, Zaireeka's cool and all, but no contest.

Clarke B. (Clarke B.), Monday, 10 May 2004 01:46 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

I received Zaireeka as a gift but haven't been able to coordinate a listening yet (I don't want to hear it without all four stereos); I'll have to reserve judgment on this one until I'm fully informed.

webcrack (music=crack), Monday, 10 May 2004 06:41 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

i can't listen to the flaming lips anymore, why did i buy their albums? i think they use some kind of top-secret mind control technique, one listen to zaireeka and you're theirs

The first three mercury rev albums are amazing.

holojames (holojames), Monday, 10 May 2004 17:07 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

I've only really heard the last two albums by both. I saw both of them play a jaw-dropping gig together just before "The Soft Bulletin " came out. That and the unfairly maligned "Deserter's Songs" are both fantastic records but the follow-ups, too me were somewhat of a disappointment. "All is Dream" was a dreary slush, whilst I am still trying to fathom why Uncut gave "Yoshimi..." five-and-a-half out of five, despite the title track and "Do You Realise" being pretty amazing. So due to that, their undeniably exhilarating live show and that what little I've heard of their earlier stuff compared to that of Mercury Rev, the Flaming Lips might edge it. However "Goddess On A Hiway" Is possibly the song that means more to me than any other, and one that I will take to the grave. So, for me, an honourable draw.

Ben Dot (1977), Monday, 10 May 2004 22:45 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

There is more beauty and dread in a random five-minute snippet of Yrself Is Steam than in all of the Flaming Lips I've ever heard, combined. Well, Zaireeka's cool and all, but no contest.

This is actually quite true.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 10 May 2004 22:54 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Personally, I find it difficult to really care about either band at this point. To me, they both seem content to use the same basic blueprint that engendered their breakthrough albums.
That being said, I can still enjoy those albums (and selected tracks from their subsequent works.)

BanjoMania (Brilhante), Monday, 10 May 2004 23:02 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

the unfairly maligned "Deserter's Songs"

huh? i think this record was album of the year in at least 5 magazine polls.

jed_ (jed), Monday, 10 May 2004 23:03 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Well, Mercury Rev do deserve more attention. I was just listening to Deserter's Songs and All is Dream today. I've forgotten how good the two albums were. However I do think that Flaming Lips are better.

But it's interesting to see how even around The Soft Bulletin era, Mercury Rev were the bigger band, and The Flaming Lips were actually the support act on that tour (I'm so annoyed that I didn't go to see it, just cos I didn't like Mercury Rev at the time). And The Flaming Lips have become such a bigger name in the last few years.

jellybean (jellybean), Monday, 10 May 2004 23:11 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

post-Zaireeka Lips = Dud. Yoshimi is such a boring record. The Rev slipped with All is Dream but have been more consistent over their career. On the other hand, the Lips have more albums. Too close to call.

Shakey Mo Collier, Monday, 10 May 2004 23:14 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

"the unfairly maligned "Deserter's Songs"

Qualifies: well, on ILX, yes.

Ben Dot (1977), Monday, 10 May 2004 23:32 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

"it wasn't a "taking sides" 'though but was concentrating on (just) one of the similarities between the two bands"

haha i thought that was the whole point of "taking sides" threads. Usually, anyway.

I've never bought anythig by either of these guys, alhtough I had a Restless Records/Something Else split comp tape that I think I'd bought from somewhere because it had a bunch of metal on it but on the other side there was this weird stuff, like from "Oh My Gawd It's the Flaming Lips" and... Ben Folds Five?? Anyway I remember the name of the album the comp wanted me to buy more than the song. Everything I've heard from them since sounds like a kind of microhouse version of Ween. Mercury Rev on the other hand I never had any of, but my roommate in college had a pre-release tape of one of their albums that he got in... 1995? Not sure which one it was but I liked it a lot. It was really violent.

Tracer Hand (tracerhand), Monday, 10 May 2004 23:40 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Is the similarity that they both go totally over the top with layering huge swathes of sound on top of each other? Cause they both do that.

Tracer Hand (tracerhand), Tuesday, 11 May 2004 00:02 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Flaming Lips because they're more fun.

Mil, Tuesday, 11 May 2004 01:05 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

I've adored both in the past, but they both seem very tedious to me now.

M Rev win because of "Sudden Ray Of Hope".

Sick Nouthall (Nick Southall), Tuesday, 11 May 2004 06:48 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Mercury Rev, for so many reasons...even the albums no-one else around here likes

I've seen the Flaming Lips live a few times, but take away the dancing animals, films and giant disco balls and..well..it sort of falls away rather, doesn't it? Even the live show gets dull after a few times.. 'Let's sing HAPPY BIRTHDAY to someone you don't know'

Oh, please no, not again..

hobart paving (hobart paving), Tuesday, 11 May 2004 07:53 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Oh, please no, not again..

I think this is the problem with the Flaming Lips. When they first started to do these 'fun' shows, everyone was amazed by them, because they were so different from your typical gigs. But now that they've been doing these for 2+ years it's got a bit boring, because to better their previous shows, they have to do something even better (eg Wayne in the giant hamster wheel). Especially with Yoshimi, it seems that the band are concetrating more on the show than on the music itself.

I'm just glad I saw The Flaming Lips when I did. On the tour just before the release of Yoshimi, so we had all the great songs, and the beginning of the dressing up as animal phase.. but not as overblown as the gigs are now.

jellybean (jellybean), Tuesday, 11 May 2004 09:34 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

"the band are concetrating more on the show than on the music itself"

This is something Mercury Rev could stand to do. The last time I saw them was for the huge Deserter's Songs media push at the Bowery Ballroom in NYC, there were expensive posters for it everywhere, free stickers, CDs. It was the most listless show I think I'd ever seen. And I've seen Royal Trux, people.

Tracer Hand (tracerhand), Tuesday, 11 May 2004 11:10 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

I saw the Lips (more or less) premiere The Soft Bulletin at SXSW in '99. That was, without question, one of the best gigs I've ever seen — like some 5th grade science project gone to Disneyland. And as if to prove the point, the Rev were on that bill and were decidedly meh.

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Tuesday, 11 May 2004 13:39 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

I will be so happy if "putting on a good show" becomes the new indie standard of excellence.

Tracer Hand (tracerhand), Tuesday, 11 May 2004 14:33 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

That would involve indie bands actually entertaining their audience, however.

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Tuesday, 11 May 2004 14:36 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

I've seen Flaming Lips three times. Doing more or less straight rock on Clouds Taste Metallic tour, at a Boombox orchestra event, and on the Soft Bulletin tour, and each time was amazing. But they do seem in a bit of a rut now. For a while they completely re-thought everything each time out, but now they've settled into a workable formula.

Mark (MarkR), Tuesday, 11 May 2004 14:39 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

The award goes to whoever covers "Come Sail Away" first.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Tuesday, 11 May 2004 14:39 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

twelve years pass...

Does ILM really not have a standalone Mercury Rev thread? Christ.

Mind currently being melted by the See You on the Other Side LP. This album is AMAZING. What the fuck is going on during "Close Encounters of the Third Grade"?

Mr. Snrub, Thursday, 16 March 2017 10:40 (three months ago) Permalink

I always forget about Mercury Rev these days - need to go listen to that.

For a while it seemed like Rev and the Lips were going to duel it out for modern inventive, multi layered studio productions but then both of them hit the skids - the Lips with 'At War With the Mystics' and Rev with 'The Secret Migration'. I'm sure the Lips realized that the approach that had begun with 'Zaireeka' had finally run out of juice on the 4th attempt and was being stretch to the limits when applied to obvious pop aspirations ("The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song" is pretty much the worst thing they've ever done!) Fortunately that resulted in them returning to being fucking insane and we ended up with the likes of 'Embryonic' and 'The Terror'. Even though this latest one is O.K. and occasionally Wayne disappears up his own ass with gimmicks, you'd be hard pressed to find another group out there with that many years behind them who are still producing interesting pop music.

I'm still surprised to this day with the relatively muted reaction to 'All is Dream'. I thought that was a spectacular album. Maybe it's a bit more straight laced and obvious that 'The Soft Bulletin' but their orchestral approach to that record is beautiful. Little indie pop symphonies.

yesca, Thursday, 16 March 2017 18:31 (three months ago) Permalink

I like maybe a third of All is Dream. Up to that they had a spectacular run though, I'd rate it higher than the Lips at this point (who I rarely go back to, Coyne is just too annoying)

Οὖτις, Thursday, 16 March 2017 18:33 (three months ago) Permalink

"All is Dream" is a fantastic album: The solo on "Little Dreams" is so good.

Favourite Rev song is definitely "Funny Little Bird"

Carlotta's Portrait (Ross), Thursday, 16 March 2017 19:11 (three months ago) Permalink

All Is Dream is their last album that I really enjoy musically but I think it's the beginning of a sharp decline lyrically.

cwkiii, Thursday, 16 March 2017 19:38 (three months ago) Permalink

See You On The Other Side has always been my favorite. I feel like it always gets lost between Boces and Deserter's Songs. But maybe with the exception of "Young Man's Stride" which is sequenced way too early, it might be their best effort. It still has the bite of their earlier stuff, but you can still feel that spacey trippyness of their later stuff before it descended into neo-hippie blandness.

I saw them live post-All Is Dream and it was, quite frankly, one of the best shows I've ever seen.

brontosaur, Thursday, 16 March 2017 19:46 (three months ago) Permalink

SYOTOS is def the peak

Οὖτις, Thursday, 16 March 2017 19:55 (three months ago) Permalink

tbh I'm not sure All Is Dream really holds up (though an improvement over DS imo) but Tides Of The Moon and Lincoln's Eyes still bring it maybe

an uptempo Pop/Hip Hop mentality (imago), Thursday, 16 March 2017 20:04 (three months ago) Permalink

like, A Drop In Time starts and you want to kick the man downstairs

an uptempo Pop/Hip Hop mentality (imago), Thursday, 16 March 2017 20:22 (three months ago) Permalink

Yeah, the saccharie disney-isms of All is Dream were when it started to go awry a bit - Secret Migration was even more dire, with the exception of "In a Funny Way" (which was also on "Laurel Canyon" soundtrack).

Carlotta's Portrait (Ross), Thursday, 16 March 2017 23:00 (three months ago) Permalink

The hip-hop grooves are part of what makes the Flaming Lips' space rock interesting to me (they're currently touring with Clipping). I'm not as familiar with Mercury Rev but none of what I've heard has that flavour.

dinnerboat, Friday, 17 March 2017 14:41 (three months ago) Permalink

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPMpoAZa3tI

maaaan

afriendlypioneer, Friday, 17 March 2017 14:51 (three months ago) Permalink

Night and Fog is a great tune, one of their best. All is Dream as a whole is merely ok though. The Secret Migration is dull except for In a Funny Way, Across Your Ocean and First Time Mother's Joy (I love the harmonies on the latter.) I haven't listened to anything since, due to the sense of an irreversible decline into increasing blandness.

Freedom, Friday, 17 March 2017 16:06 (three months ago) Permalink

I thought Deserters Songs was amazing at the time, but I'm not sure about it now. If I were to be a DS vs The Soft Bulletin, I think the songwriting on the latter is stronger, and has caused it to hold up better. Yoshimi has a lot of good stuff too, but At War with the Mystics seemed to be all texture and nothing else. I never listened to the later supposed return to form. As for the Rev, I think Boces and SYOTOS are probably the most enduring for the mix of inventiveness and tunes (Yerself is Steam is perhaps just a little *too* self-indulgent.)

Freedom, Friday, 17 March 2017 16:11 (three months ago) Permalink

mercury rev duh?

olly, Saturday, 18 March 2017 11:51 (three months ago) Permalink

Rocking out to "delta bottleneck" as the last song at a house party in '98 or 99 felt pretty cool

calstars, Saturday, 18 March 2017 11:59 (three months ago) Permalink

I may be the only person in the universe who thought Snowflake Midnight was excellent. Album from 2015 much less so.

PaulTMA, Saturday, 18 March 2017 13:02 (three months ago) Permalink

Count me among the "All is Dream is underrated" crowd, and, like yesca, I was always shocked by the fact that the record fared so poorly (relative to the previous album, of course). Perhaps part of it could be blamed on the overly-ambitious Disney-isms, part of it was that maybe they followed up a critically acclaimed album too soon, part of it could be that people were just getting over that particular sound by that point, I dunno. I think individual songs on All is Dream are great but its one of those weird albums that doesn't work as whole, somehow. Maybe it's a sequencing issue?

I know this: if they'd pulled a Neutral Milk Hotel and stopped making records after Deserter's Songs, there would be multiple Mercury Rev threads revived every time there was so much as a a rumor of new Mercury Rev music, and people would be talking about them in the same hushed, reverent whispers they do MBV, Boards of Canada, and, err, Neutral Milk Hotel.

Wimmels, Saturday, 18 March 2017 13:54 (three months ago) Permalink

"All is Dream" also came out in the states on 9/11, which may have overshadowed its release

Carlotta's Portrait (Ross), Tuesday, 21 March 2017 04:15 (three months ago) Permalink

I don't mean that in a bad way, just that it was a hectic time..

Carlotta's Portrait (Ross), Tuesday, 21 March 2017 04:16 (three months ago) Permalink


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