THOUGH originally classed with the "shamblers," latter-day punks devoid of punk rage, the Soup Dragons demonstrated a deft, if overreaching, eclecticism with their 1988 album, "This Is Our Art." Now the Edinburgh quartet has used its chameleon-like skills to blend into the British vogue for the trippy neo-disco music called acid house.
Layering spacey melodies and psychedelic sentiments ("Mother Universe," "Dream-E-Forever") over a fat electrobeat, the Dragons have stormed the British charts with "Lovegod," the title of their new album, and an oh-so-up-to-the- minute remake of the Stones' "I'm Free." The results can be a little silly, but the most effective tracks -- like the Jesus and Mary Chain-derived acid house with go-go cowbell of "Kiss the Gun" -- show the Dragons' eclecticism to be exceptionally canny.
The Flaming Lips come on like post-punk neo-blues holy-fool screw-ups -- sort of like the Birthday Party or "Flies on Sherbert"-period Alex Chilton, in other words -- but a perusal of their "In a Priest Driven Ambulance" album suggests a certain calculation. Every one of the 10 songs is 3:26 long, and every one mentions Jesus. Maybe it's all for real, though: These guys are refugees from Bible-Belt Oklahoma, and their broken-down and busted plaints seem earnest enough, if not quite so scarifying as was probably intended.
THE SOUP DRAGONS -- "Lovegod" (Big Life).
FLAMING LIPS -- "In a Priest Driven Ambulance" (Restless). Appearing together Sunday at the 9:30 club.