Sonic Reducer: The Flaming Lips, Bob Dylan, Goldspot

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A keystone in the wall of weirdness The Flaming Lips has built over the past 25 years has been the unique ability to juxtapose bizarre music and lyrics with cathartic optimism in songs like “Do You Realize??” However, this 13 th album stunningly takes the Oklahoma band’s notorious weirdness to hell and leaves listeners there, surrounded by dark and versatile psychedelic rock. Embryonic —somewhere between early Floyd and Miles Davis’ Get Up With It —turns upside down ecstatic and eccentric frontman Wayne Coyne’s usual oddball tales of love saving the world with lines like “I believe in nothing” and “love is powerful, but not as powerful as evil.” (AP)

Bob Dylan Christmas in the Heart (Columbia)

To the surprise of virtually everyone, Bob Dylan took time from his “Never Ending Tour” to record a collection of holiday standards. The album’s proceeds are going to charity, and as he approaches 70, it’s nice to know that Dylan is apparently still having fun. Just learning about this album’s impending release was enough to raise the eyebrows of fans who probably thought, The dark prince of folk-rock, the former protest singer and reluctant voice of a generation recorded “Silver Bells” and “Here Comes Santa Claus?” But between Dylan’s gravel-gargling voice and his cheesy backup singers, Christmas in the Heart is mostly just terrifying. (AP)

Goldspot And The Elephant Is Dancing (Goldspot Music)

Power-pop’s characteristic lightheartedness shows up in full force on Goldspot’s second release. Reportedly inspired by Mohammed Rafi, R.E.M., Kishore Kumar, The Beatles, Bollywood and sunny California, the compositions offer soft, shining textures marked by snappy vocal melodies, simple but prominent percussion (hats off to hand claps!) and happy guitar parts. Don’t worry, though, it’s not all magic and rose-colored glasses; elements of melancholy—musically and lyrically—are around every corner, abating any threats of whimsy. (JCC)

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