Though they’re clearly still going strong, ten years ago yesterday Oklahoma’s favorite sons released their ninth and generally speaking most beloved album The Soft Bulletin. It was the Flaming Lips’ moody, poppy, deeply atmospheric followup to 1997′s quadruple turntable adventure Zaireeka and it was followed by another critical and commercial success, 2002′s Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, but The Soft Bulletin found the Lips (and producer Dave Fridmann) nailing something especially magical. It’s somehow welcoming, chilly, lonesome, communal, psychedelic, and down home at the same time. The collection crystallized the Lips’ step into less experimental directions, found them a larger audience, and provided a template for future releases. To celebrate The Soft Bulletin’s 10-year mark we’ve collected seven assorted covers — from the worlds of indie, jazz, pop, folk, even a cappella — to give an idea of the album’s far-reaching impact. And, while you’re at it, you should listen to the original again. It still sounds like it was recorded entirely at sunset.

Ben Folds & Neil Hammon – “Race for the Prize” (Jonathan Ross Show 9/12/02)

Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey – “The Spark That Bled” (Live In NYC 10/22/05)

Brown Jabberwocks – “Buggin’” (Live At Brown University 9/07)

Nobody – “What Is The Light?”

Iron & Wine – “Waitin’ For A Superman” (Live In LA 5/8/09)

(The studio recording is on Sam’s new collection Around The Well, currently streaming at MySpace.)

Postal Service – “Suddenly Everything Has Changed”

The Bad Plus – “Feeling Yourself Disintegrate”


The Flaming Lips’ double LP Embryonic is coming this September.

Comments (36)
  1. One of my favorite albums of all time.

  2. I’m sad there wasn’t a Zaireeka covers article…

  3. tylenolmonkey  |   Posted on May 18th, 2009 0

    Exclusive Stereogum “Soft Bulle-TEN” tribute album?!? Please????

    P.S. Feel free to enter a wittier tribute album title name….that’s why you’re the writers, not me!

  4. Brian  |   Posted on May 18th, 2009 0

    This was when the The Flaming Lips really started to fire on all cylinders. Everthing from this album forward from the Lips has been golden without fail. Look forward to more and more from the Fearless Freaks known as the Flaming Lips.

  5. JimO  |   Posted on May 18th, 2009 0

    this is my favorite album and the reason I went out and bought a piano which I am teaching myself to play

  6. Love This Record! Had Tried To Understand The Lips Prior To This Record, But This One Sucked Me In For Good. Hard To Believe It Has Been Ten Years! Hate To Start The Wilco/AC Fight Again, But Will We Still Argue Those Two In Ten Years? I Think Probably So. (Wilco Wins For Me)!

    • Why Did You Capitalize Every Word In That Sentence?

      Ass-holery aside, the Soft Bulletin is such a wonderful, beautiful album, and the Lips always hold a special place in my heart because of it.

  7. sometallusjinks  |   Posted on May 18th, 2009 0

    No way! I just listened to this yesterday, what a coincidence.

  8. Thanks Brandon! You made my day. Top 25 for me I think. I lost the CD on a plane, now I will go get back.

  9. carhole  |   Posted on May 18th, 2009 0

    Damn, now I can’t call it the best album of the past ten years anymore.

  10. Steven  |   Posted on May 18th, 2009 0

    Meh. To me, SOFT BULLETIN signaled the end of the Lips. Not a fan of the “kinder gentler” direction…I miss the freaks that used to sing songs about Jesus shooting heroin………and nothing will ever top IN A PRIEST DRIVEN AMBULANCE.

  11. Ahhh! that “Buggin” performance makes me want to toss a grenade – not really, but I hate it.

    I don’t think I have the heart to even attempt listening to all these…

  12. This album is like a rocket ship to Awesomeburg. Population, my boner.

  13. Jazzhole  |   Posted on May 19th, 2009 0

    That Ben Folds cover is great. You can just visualize a crowd of animal costumed lunatics surrounding a pair of big balloony dancing raisin bran Suns. Awesome. Ben Folds also did a hilarious/genius cover of She Don’t Use Jelly on the Lounge-a-Palooza compilation a few years back.

  14. admittedly, the jabberwocks are pretty terrible. this is why i strictly avoid a capella, especially at a university level.

  15. Should we also have a 20-year anniversary party for the release of ProTools?

  16. ev  |   Posted on May 19th, 2009 0

    “Sam” – cuz he’s your fuckin buddy, right Gum?

  17. lex  |   Posted on May 19th, 2009 0

    I always liked the Peter Morkan mixes of Race for the Prize and Superman way better than the Fridmann ones.
    Does anyone actually know why they put those songs on the album twice?

  18. First off, Wubdub that is a brilliant one liner.

    Second, would everyone agree there are 2 Flaming Lips: prior and post Zaireeka? They’re completely different animals.

    • Lee  |   Posted on May 19th, 2009 0

      well, three if you count zaireeka, which is also its own animal i’d say.

      but, yeah, totally different. In general I prefer the pre-Z stuff, but tSB is probably their single greatest album.

  19. While I agree that today’s Ben Folds is deeply flawed, I think it’s unfair to say that Ben Folds Five-era Ben Folds isn’t pretty good.

  20. Scott  |   Posted on May 20th, 2009 0

    Record company wanted the Mokran mixes, band wanted the Friedmann ones, dual versions (US only, if I remember correctly) were the “solution” for what it was worth.

  21. Kevin White  |   Posted on May 20th, 2009 0

    Love the album, soundtrack to my summer 1999, but the mastering really kind of sucks. It’s badly compressed and clipped. Loudness War casualty = no dynamics.

    • Jazzhole  |   Posted on May 21st, 2009 0

      I always felt like the compressed sound and the clipping were part of its flawed charm. I mean for the love of God listen to the bassdrum in the Fridmann mix of Race for the Prize. Or hell, I don’t know, any of the bass or drum sounds on the whole record. If you want crisp sound listen to Boston or something.

  22. Keith  |   Posted on May 20th, 2009 0

    Shouldn’t that be Neil Hannon (of Divine Comedy) and not Neil Hammond?

  23. dunn  |   Posted on May 20th, 2009 0

    What? No Gash cover?!?!

  24. derek  |   Posted on May 21st, 2009 0

    i’m a fan of that postal service cover…

    even without the original’s killer bass-line, it holds up really well.

  25. I love The Soft Bulletin, but I feel I’m one of the few that finds themselves returning to At War With the Mystics more often. Though not necessarily a better album, I love how disjointed and meandering that album is without compromising artistic integrity and that grand sense of zany adventure that we’ve grown to love about the band. “The Spiderbite Song” is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard though.

  26. Grobian  |   Posted on May 28th, 2009 0

    Soft Bulletin is a gutless, castrated piece of shit, like everything they’ve done since Ronald left.

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