Many years ago when the Austin, Texas rock and roll underground scene was making big waves with acts like Zeitgeist/Reivers, Doctor’s Mob, The Wild Seeds, Glass Eye, and Daniel Johnston to name but a few SPIN magazine came down to do a feature story on the scene. I was captivated for a number of reasons; Daniel Johnston worked at McDonalds then and I also worked for the golden arches, Austin came off in the story as a slacker paradise welcoming to artists like I fancied myself to be, and most importantly the story had a bit about a local night of music where each band took the stage to perform a cover of The Velvet Underground’s “Sweet Jane”, which may sound repetitious to some, but to my Velvet’s obsessed mind read like heaven. Were any of the members of Austin band Black Lipstick in the audience that witnessed the night of homage to Lou Reed back in 1985? It’s not likely since they would have been just children then, but the spirit of that club date must have seeped into their collective unconscious as the force of VU is strong with them.
Black Lipstick is Elizabeth Nottingham, Travis Higdon, Steve Garcia, and Phillip Niemeyer and as they proclaim on the lead off track from Sincerely, Black Lipstick, "B.O.B. F.OS.S.E.", “if the world’s a stage then the whole damn world should bow to us…” they are ready for our supplication. Its exuberant rock loaded with Velvets and Television/Tom Verlaine New York cool mixed with Texas heat and drawl and certainly not without antecedents – read the first paragraph again if you’ve already forgotten the apparent love affair Texas has with “Sweet Jane”. The surface of Black Lipstick’s music might suggest insouciance, but there’s much going on beneath it all. Guitars snarl and hum, drums thump, and the bass rides around each song picking up the melody line when it gets dropped. Prickly little pinpricks of delight await the really attentive listener. “Grandma Airplane” unwinds for seven plus minutes telling the tale of an airplane ride with such dreamlike assurance it feels like you’re the one up in the air while “it’s your world sitting on the ground”. Black Lipstick manage to come off as both bohemian and working class and to honor such a melding of intellectualism and pragmatism the next paragraph of this review will be done using the cut up method. I have cut up old Black Lipstick press clippings and through random choices I will try to capture the essence of the band.