by: The Flaming Lips

The Flaming Lips' contribution to the Late Night Tales series -- which also includes volumes curated by Four Tet, Jamiroquai, and Nightmares on Wax -- shows off the band's wide-ranging but almost always impeccable taste in music. Admirably, the collection doesn't include much that sounds like the Flaming Lips themselves. Even the band's own contribution to the mix, a siren-filled cover of the White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army" that the Lips debuted at 2003's T in the Park Festival when they filled in for the Stripes after Jack White's car accident that summer, doesn't exactly resemble the Flaming Lips' usually sunny, whimsical modus operandi. Instead, Late Night Tales is a thoughtful selection of aptly laid-back music that flows smoothly despite its eclecticism; the segues from Björk's "Unravel" to Miles Davis' "My Ship" and from Nick Drake's "River Man" to Sebadoh's "On Fire" are particularly fine. With tracks by cult favorites such as Faust, the Chameleons, Chris Bell, and 10cc, this is a collection by and for music junkies. Despite the album's glossy packaging, it keeps the personality of a handmade mixtape; Wayne Coyne's comments in the liner notes ("I don't think anyone ever really appreciated their inventive chord structures and otherworldly vocal harmonies," he says of Lush's "Monochrome," "but then, I am a muso!") underscore the collection's friendly feel. It's possible that Late Night Tales would've worked just as well as a play list, but the album has quite a bit to offer to Lips fans who are familiar with all, some, or none of the artists featured here. ~ Heather Phares

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