In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing. This week, in commemoration of Neil Young’s new and novel record, we’ve selected our favorite lo-fi cuts.
Back when The Flaming Lips were actually pretty weird, instead of playing at being weird, they released a stop-gap EP called Due To High Expectations… The Flaming Lips Are Providing Needles For Your Balloons, which gathered strange odds and ends into a slim, limited-edition CD. Judging from its title, the lengthy EP was a reaction to the mainstream attention that “She Don’t Use Jelly” had gotten the band. And besides “Bad Days,” which would be cleaned up for inclusion on 1995’s Clouds Taste Metallic, everything here is pretty radio-unfriendly. That’s especially true of “Put The Waterbug In The Policeman’s Ear,” a scratchy, no-fidelity song that sounds like it was recorded on a malfunctioning boom box with only a condenser microphone. It begins with a spoken-word piece from Wayne Coyne, who explains that the song is about his brother, “a firm believer of hard narcotics,” who had been hassled by The Man, but used his secret powers to call a bunch of cockroaches to help him. (Part of this is probably untrue.) But the weirdness and scratchiness only made the song more beautiful: It’s mostly just Coyne’s voice backed by a stirring violin and piano. Presumably the song was actually recorded on shitty equipment, and it wasn’t just some “make this sound like an old 78” filter on somebody’s fancy console. Either way, it’s gorgeous and truly weird, not just weird-leaning.