As 2011 winded down The Flaming Lips were still winding up: they worked up six John Lennon covers, recorded four songs with the Plastic Ono Band and streamed seven additional new Christmas tracks – all in the month of December.
The climax of perhaps the busiest year in the band’s near-30 year career was their New Year’s Freak Out #5 with the Plastic Ono Band. In addition to the two bands playing separate and together on both New Year’s Eve and the next night, they released a collaborative EP at the event – the last of the Lips’ (almost) monthly 2011 releases. 600 of the 2000 limited edition 12″ vinyl records glow in the dark, and each of them have psychedelic, multi-color, unique designs by Daniel Huffman (aka psych-electronic musician New Fumes – check out his work here and follow him at twitter/NewFumes).
No two records have the same colors/ designs. As with the Lips three previous 12″ releases from 2011 – all personally made by Huffman – each is a one-of-a-kind work of art. Below hear all four tracks from the EP, and check out some of the record designs.
The A-side has three tracks: “The Fear Litany” (based on Frank Herbert’s 1965 science fiction novel Dune), “Do It!” and “Brain of Heaven” (the first three of the four above video). Watch the Lips and Plastic Onos record the first and the last of those three in the first of the two videos below, followed by the sessions for “Do It!” (Details on B-side “Atlas Eets Christmas” – which streamed at AtlasEetsChristmas.com throughout December – is further down in this post. Read the EPs’ official credits here.)
For the New Year Freak Out the Lips also worked up six covers – all penned by John Lennon, none fully played by Coyne and co before (though long-time Lips fans might remember the band quoting a segment of Paul McCartney’s “A Day In The Life” middle section amongst other song teases during the long and winding “Scrathin’ the Door” jams they played live in the mid/late ’80s).
Watch the Lips prepare “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “I Am the Walrus,” “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” and “A Day in the Life” for the Freak Out in the video below. Click here to watch an “I Want You” video and share it on Facebook – download the video here.
On New Year’s Eve they also played two songs with The Plastic Ono Band: “Give Peace a Chance” – leading up to the countdown – and “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” after midnight. See the full setlist here.
On Thanksgiving weekend the Lips debuted a new website: AtlasEetsChristmas.com. The self-described “Infinite Christmas Sounds” streamed the Lips’ previously released holiday music in about 90 minutes loops. Over the course of December, 8 new Christmas tracks were uploaded on to it. Most notable was their re-recording of “Atlas Eets Christmas” with The Plastic Ono Band. With the new POB collab EP, that track now gets a proper release, as the sole B-side track (played at 45 rpm).
In the below video watch Sean Lennon and the Plastic Onos record “Atlas Eets Christmas” with the Lips, plus hear the original version (the title track of the Lips’ secret 2007 Christmas album released under the Lennon-esque alias Imagene Peise).
The below video is 6 of the 8 new Christmas tracks that appeared in the AtlasEetsChristmas.com stream over the course of December:
1) A short, untitled interlude
2) A new mix of “It’s Christmas Time Again,” a song from their 2008 film Christmas on Mars
3) A short, instrumental “Deck the Halls”
4) A short, instrumental “O Christmas Tree”
5) A short, instrumental “Silent Night”
6) “Santy Claus is Coming”
Of the 8 new Christmas tracks only seven are currently streaming online, the first five in the video above plus “Atlas Eets Christmas” (top of page) and “Santy Claus is Coming 2.0” (below). “Santy Claus is Coming” streamed from December 8th through 10th at AtlasEetsChristmas.com and youtube/ImagenePeise (since then it has only been available as the 6th track in the video above). On the evening of December 10th it was replaced by the 8th of the 8 new holiday tracks, “Santy Claus is Coming 2.0” – the latest Imagene Peise recording. Watch it below:
As 2012 begins they’ve already been working on new material. According to the Aspen Times, the Lips’ next release, “is a batch of songs to be sold in a psychedelic gummy frog. The frogs will have powder sprinkled on them that is meant to be licked off; the idea was inspired by the South American toads that, when licked, can cause hallucinations.” This will presumably be available sometime in January.
Since this past summer the “Gummy Frog” has been rumored to be “next” in the Lips’ series of monthly releases – that is, until they got sidetracked by songs 6 and 24 hours long. In October Coyne explained to Clash Music, “We have an edible, psychedelic frog coming out. It’s a clear frog that you can pour psychedelic dust on and then lick it – it’s going to be a pretty good one. And we’re going to make a skull that has an actual vaginal fucking thing stuck to the back of it – you have to reach into it to get the USB.”
So there you have – the “Most Innovative Artists of 2011” are set to start the year of the dragon with psychedelic frogs and skull vaginas.
What took them so long? Wayne – the composer of catchy little ditties like “I Can Be a Frog,” “Oh My Pregnant Head (Labia in the Sunlight),” and “Frogs” – has long worn his obsessions with those green amphibians and female parts as patches on his freak flag. It’s about time fans can eat his obsession.