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The Black Lips and Natural Child Bring a One-Two Punch Not to Miss

April 15th, 2014

Four teenagers, singer-guitarist Cole Alexander, drummer Joe Bradley, guitarist Ben Eberbaugh and bassist Jared Swilley, bonded over a love of music and formed a band, the Black Lips, in the Atlanta suburbs about a decade-and-a-half ago. Their first couple of singles gained them some attention and their antics, both onstage and off, got them banned from several local venues. But the group persevered, getting past their shenanigans and lineup changes, including the death of Eberbaugh, who was killed by a drunk driver. Guitarist Ian Saint Pe replaced him, but that hasn’t affected the band’s sound or spirit. In fact, the Black Lips (above, playing “Family Tree” for Billboard.com) continue to put on spirited, high-energy live performances while still churning out superlative Southern-tinged garage punk, most recently on this year’s Under the Rainbow (stream it below). The Washington Post praises it, mentioning that it sounds “clearer, sparer and tighter than its previous efforts,” before going on to add that “the Black Lips continue to craft a sound that could well be the next incarnation of punk.”

The Black Lips are currently out on the road with another like-minded Burger Records group, Natural Child. After eating weed brownies, bassist Wes Taylor was inspired to call drummer Zack martin and guitarist Seth Murray, proclaiming that they should start a band and “make all our rock and roll dreams come true together.” And upon agreeing to record and tour often, that’s just what they did: The three proceeded to spend most of the following two years out on the road, which not only allowed them to hone their live show, but it also gave them plenty of time to work on material. Natural Child (above, doing “Saturday Night Blues” for Rollo & Grady Sessions) released For the Love of the Game (stream it below) and Hard in Heaven (stream it below) just six months apart in 2012. Each album was filled with what the band calls “songs about drugs and various other subjects, but mostly drugs,” while managing to sound like a cross between J. Roddy Walston & the Business and early-’70s Rolling Stones. But seeking a bigger sound, the Nashville, Tenn., trio blossomed into a quintet with the addition of Luke Schneider (pedal steel) and Benny Divine (multi-instrumentalist) on this year’s excellent Dancin’ with Wolves (stream it below). So do yourself a favor and go see two hard-working bands that rock, the Black Lips and Natural Child on Thursday night at Webster Hall.