Lambchop is a band. Lambchop is, as the album holds, 'A Woman'. Lambchop hinges on the imagination of Kurt Wagner. Lambchop are past, present, and future.
But where to begin? The cult American outfit have built up a complex, curiously individual discography, one that stretches across two decades and multiple musicals styles, whims, and provocations.
New album 'FLOTUS' - rather cheekily it actually means 'For Love Often Turns Us Still' - is out now on City Slang, and it's a rich return, one packed with melodic curiosity and lyrical depth.
Lambchop leader Kurt Wagner will play a solo show at London's Rough Trade East tonight (November 8th) before sitting down for a Q&A with fan, friend, and collaborator Tim Burgess.
Ahead of this, Clash invited Tim to pen a quick 'Where To Start...' guide to the work of Lambchop.
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Where to start with Lambchop? My introduction came through a C90 cassette given to me by a friend. The very first song on it, 'My Face Your Ass', was about as good an introduction as any. Such an arresting title for a song of gentle beauty, they do that time and again but within seconds I was smitten. It was 1998 and it was a recording from their album 'Thriller' - even that title, nobody but Kurt Wagner would call an album 'Thriller' and get away with it, there's such a subtle sense of humour to Lambchop and it's part of the key you need to unlock the songs and really get them.
The album had come out the year before but had passed me by - the gentle, timeless atmosphere was like nothing I'd heard before.
This was before they had made 'Nixon' or 'Is A Woman' or 'Damaged' - which meant I got to hear those as soon as they came out and by then I was a fully paid up Lambchop cheerleader - not in the sense of chanting and waving pom poms, but If Kurt had asked me, I would’ve. Lambchop are like a slow, winding river, they keep on doing their thing and they'll find everyone in time - playing as anything up to a 12 piece but sounding like it's all happening as Kurt sits in a rocking chair on his porch, with his dogs at his feet.
I'm still supposed to be recommending, right?
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Maybe 'The Old Gold Shoe' from 'Nixon'. Or my favourite from 'Is A Woman', 'My Blue Wave'.
Or 'Damaged' highlight 'Beers Before The Barbican' - I might be biased as I was invited to play a gig with Lambchop to celebrate The Barbican's anniversary in 2013, that song means I get the chance to drop that fact into the conversation.
They're all quite slow though so maybe an upbeat beauty like 'Up With People'.
Lambchop, like Guns 'N Roses, released two albums on one day. Axl plumped for 'Use Your Illusion I' and 'Use Your Illusion II', while Kurt opted for 'Aw Cmon' and 'No You Cmon' - reason enough alone to buy them. Either of those are a good starter point - that's either of those Lambchop albums, I've still not got round to hearing the Guns 'N Roses ones. 'National Talk Like Pirate Day' is great entry level 'chop too - that's on '(OH) Ohio' if you want to look it up.
One of the best things about Lambchop is they always sound like Lambchop - they are experimental but everything carries the DNA - go in wherever you like and if you're not keen, try a couple more and if you like them, go deeper and you'll sink in to a beautiful embrace from one of music's most enchanting voices.
If you've not been bitten by then, try either of the 'Use Your Illusion' albums by Guns 'N Roses - Lambchop aren't for everyone.
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'FLOTUS' is out now.