Posts Tagged ‘King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – “Honey”

Its been a little bit since I’ve had the Gizz on the site, which in King Gizzard years is something like a half-decade, I suppose. After the charred remains of Infest The Rat’s Nest stopped smoldering, they’re back with a new, more mellow feeling. The song recalls a pretty straight split between their microtonal temperament a few years ago and the acoustic sweetness of Paper Mâché Dream Balloon and its nice to have the band winding their way back to this niche. As much as most probably love the psychedelic blast that the band lays down, I’ve alway been fan of the softer side of the Lizard Wizard and this shows that off nicely. The video puts the chaos away for a bit as well, with the band’s Stu McKenzie solo and busking in the sunset. No full details yet, but if there’s more of this on the way, I’m game.



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King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard

After a year of constantly reviewing King Gizz and crew it was nice to have a breather last year, probably as much for the band as for the public. That lets the band land back on the turntable without a hint of fatigue on their fourteenth album. Ever shifting in the stylistic sands, the band seeks to embrace various corners of downhome choogle and plasticine boogie with this run ‘round the turntable. The runup to this record gives good argument for digesting an album in its entirety, though. Thrown at the listener piecemeal, the disparate parts of Fishing For Fishies felt out of joint with each other, but once sequenced into a slide from countrified funk to future stomp the ties tighten and the band’s vision begins to make a bit more sense.

They kick the disc open with a kitschy callback to the vibes of “Vegemite” and both the breezy quirk and visual in-joke video feel like the days when the band had zero expectations heaped upon them, creating talking sandwiches covered in their national litmus condiment with a wicked smirk. Then album begins its slide into a history of funk n’ roll over the next eight songs, stopping off at ‘70s backporch grit, Stevie Wonder wiggle, and seven-foot-tall whoopin’ garage party platters. Ambrose sneaks in a hip-shaker that sounds like a Murlocs outtake, but fits the vibe nicely, giving the open-door hotbox hoedown another tweak.

They cool for just a moment, letting the sweat steam off their backs before taking the plunge once more. As they hockey stop into “This Thing” the band begins their slide towards the doxed, cold futurisms, though not without still a knowing wink in their eyes. King Gizz are kings of psych paranoia, but they’re forever having fun with it. The track snags a few trilling orchestral touches, but at heart it’s a stadium-sized rocker tipping towards excess and ecstasy. Then they strip the skeleton of funk down to back alley ambience with a touch of creeping menace before they lay open the portal to “Cyboogie.” The lock-stopped ‘80s psych-funk phenom has got boogie in its veins but murder in its eyes. It’s a pulsating finish to the band’s Frankenstein of retro-futurism and should probably slay the crowds in the live setting.

The album’s sleeve (and to that point the title) seems like a misstep to me, but those are purely aesthetic questions and shouldn’t tinge your enjoyment of the album. It’s just that the band’s visual direction, led by Jason Galea has been so consistently vivid that this seems like a first draft on the way to something more solid. No harm, though. It’s what’s inside that counts and this is one of the more fun releases in the band’s vast and ever-growing catalog.


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The Murlocs

While the Gizz might be gearing up for another rinse around the tub in April, you don’t have to wait that long for some harp-heckled weirdness outta OZ. Top flight Gizzard offshoot The Murlocs are back with their fourth LP and a more toughened and toned sound than they’ve displayed to date. Led by the sinewy swagger of Ambrose Kenny-Smith and the nimble bass of Cook Craig, they’ve always represented a more soul-drenched side of the equation, turning down the psychedelic splatter that hangs over their ludicrously monikered day job and doing the dirty work of making bodies move to the blues. That soul-glo is even more present on Manic Candid Episode as the band grinds out white-boy hip shakers that stick to the floor with sweat and tears. They’d always been able to hit that manic high, though, what’s interesting here is how tender Kenny-Smith lets himself get and how vulnerability really lends itself a new dimensions to the band’s equation.

The standout single “Comfort Zone” takes a lone-spotlight piano approach to ‘70s songwriting, jumping off from an Elton show-closer and giving it a twist through the band’s own rose gold filter. They continue the buttered slide through more tender territory on “Catch 22” and “Samsara Maya,” but much as they might want to temper, the twinkle in Amrose’s eye can’t help but lead them back to the fire eventually. Those harmonica hijinks return for “What If?,” “Withstand” and the title track to, admittedly, great effect. Its good to see them take the temperature down a few degrees, but its hard to argue that when they aim to singe, they leave an impression. This is the most varied and versed the band has sounded in a long time, feeling like this is the moment when they go from being a sidetrack diversion to headliners in their own right.



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The Murlocs – “Withstand”

Another psych-blooze swinger drops from The Murlocs today along with the official announcement of their third album, Manic Candid Episode. The new track, “Withstand,” doesn’t soar for the Rocketman vibes that the band had touched on previously, but instead sees Ambrose and crew returning to their stable of gritty garage shakers peppered with tons of harmonica and a half-ton of sneer. The accompanying vid is notably more lighthearted than the murder-heavy clip that accompanied “Comfort Zone,” going for a psychedelic ‘70s kids show vibe with the green screen taking on a lot of the burden. To double the exciting news, the band is also reissuing their last couple of LPs, which were a bit harder to find here in the states. Both have new editions coming out through their American outpost at ATO. Manic Candid Episode is out March 22nd.



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King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – “Cyboogie”

The silence is broken and the lid is off. King Gizz is back with a new single and, as usual, as shift in sound. This time the band embraces the slick slide of glam and funk into the advent ’80s electronic, feeling every bit like Gary Numan trying on platform shoes with Slade, ELO, and Harald Grosskopf in the same shopping trip. They’re straying far from the face melting guitars, but the rest of the band’s schtick remains in tact – the dystopian vibes, psychedelic bent and penchant for voice overs remains. For the video they play up those vibes with touches of paranoid cinema, with the clip echoing the close-up discomfort of A Clockwork Orange and the shabby glitz of The Running Man. Whether this is a taste of what’s to come of a one-off diversion, only time will tell. The sound feels good on the band and ya gotta hand it to them, they don’t sit still and they don’t stagnate their sound. The single is out Feb 1st.

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The Murlocs – “Comfort Zone”

Well if its a slow year for King Gizz (and it damn well should be, take a well-deserved break) then it seems time for the tangents to get back in the swing. The Murlocs’ last saw them on solid ground, steadily taking their place next to Gizz proper as more than just a side project. On “Comfort Zone,” though, Ambrose Kenny proves that he’s set to push this next album even further. With a vibe that’s definitely channeling ’70s Elton, the song stumbles and staggers through broken-soul motions with a deep well of heart and hurt. The accompanying video on the other hand posits some real Johnny Got His Gun feelings paired up with slasher/revenge fantasy fic. Not sure the two seem to correlate, but the song’s one of the locs’ best, giving some real heft to the anticipation for the upcoming LP on Flightless.

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King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard

Well, look at that, just in under the wire if you’re counting. Two digital albums with physical release dates in 2018 are on the docks but all in all the tally’s come in with the Gizz ringing in the new year five albums richer. Their latest is more of a mop up of sorts than an album with any prevailing theme, at least along the level that the band often maintains. It’s proof that they don’t have any true stumbles in their batch, but there’s definitely a sort of clearinghouse feeling to this one, like they might have had some bits that were kicking around waiting for a home. That’s actually self-admitted, with the band’s Stu McKenzie claiming that the album was more “song-oriented” than “album oriented,” which hasn’t really been the case for the prog-psych think tank since 2014’s Oddments.

Like that album, Gumboot Soup feels loose and without restriction. The songs are free to swerve through the band’s own psych swamp, touching on jazz-flecks and fuzz-cakes in equal measure. Sketches of Brunswick East aside, this is actually some of the lightest fare the band have approached this year, which is always kind of fun in my book. I’ve long been a fan of the band’s waterlogged take on psychedelia – swampy, cold, and clammy but without a match light in sight. They’ve spent several albums looking for the spark that would burn down this world and its nice to feel them lean back into their squirming weirdness for a spell.

Gumboot sees the band get slinky, with Ambrose’s flute snaking as a through line for some true gems here. Song-wise there are some great downbeat moments here. They kick things the opposite direction as well, though, with “The Great Chain of Being” acting as one of the band’s most outright metal offerings, feeling like they might have something much heavier in the books at some future point. Tell you what, if the winds bid a Sleep/King Gizzard collaboration I’m all for it, and this might be the foothold to that reality. Similarly “All Is Known” is straight out of the Nonagon playbook, pulling off their usual tricks amiably. The record, for all its inconsistencies, houses no lack of essentials for the collector and curator of King Gizz’ house of psychedelic oddities. If you’re already in the clubhouse then this should feel like eleven new pieces of a puzzle that’s constantly unfolding in real time. Can’t wait to see what this year holds. Though maybe they should sleep.



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King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard

So here we are, year winding down and the band is still just short on their promise of five albums between the bookends of 2017, but number four is here and I’ll give it to them, it’s impressive nonetheless. Still got more than a month to go, so who knows? They swerve the impossible tangle of release schedules with a free release of Polygondwanaland digitally and stir up some noise by giving the album to fans to release if they choose, even going so far as to package up the production files on their site. So keep an eye out for about seven new labels to try this one as their cornerstone kickoff or choose one of the at least 6-10 others I’ve already seen floating about. Still, how does the actual album stack up against their gamut of songs from the past 300-odd days gone by?

The record orbits closest to Murder of the Universe, packing a psych-crush that’s doom-soaked and wandering into at least one spoken word breakdown, but it’s far less frantic than that album. It doesn’t go for full reinvention or concept as we’ve seen from Flying Microtonal‘s scale restrictions or Brunswick East’s jazz digressions. But what the album becomes is a solid entry to the band’s full-on prog canon, following most in the footsteps of high water mark Nonagon Infinity and picking up lessons from the various rungs on their catalog ladder along the way.

It’s full of atmosphere, feeling like one of the most uncluttered versions of themselves since they stripped it all back to acoustics back in 2015. However, Polygondwanaland is definitely no exercise in niceties, it has plenty of bite under a rippling shell of glycerine psych. Squelch fights for space with buzzing synth lines and the band’s now almost expected arpeggiated guitar lines, with vocalist Stu McKenzine floating overhead like a prog prophet of medieval doom. Flutes and acoustic strums pull the choke of darkness off just long enough to let the closer tear everything down to the puddle of blood that KG so often elicit. This is a solid entry to their catalog and, I suppose we should all feel a little pride. After all, apparently it belongs to all of us, eh?




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The Living Eyes – “Horseplay”

These Geelong punks are back in action. Always one of my faves from the Aussie circuit, The Living Eyes’ third record is out in November on Anti-Fade. They launch into another heavy hitter in a catalog stuffed with whip-smart punk. This time the boards are manned by none other than King Gizz captain Stu McKenzie, proving that KG are everywhere at once and always pushing the quality out of the South Hemi. “Horseplay” is a brief burst of bouncy fun, clocking in at just over 2 min, so consider this just something to whet your appetite for the full release.




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King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard

So, three albums down, two to go if we’re keeping score in 2017. I’d opted out of the running commentary surrounding Murder of the Universe, ostensibly a real turning point for the band from a press saturation point. Now, its not that I had deep fundamental issues with the album, but if you’ve been taking the full tour as I have all these years, MOTU had all the hallmarks their best work, but that was as much to its credit as it was the problem. If you’ve heard the canon, you’ve got the idea. They saturated that one with the time change whiplash of their previous heavy psych monsters Mindfuzz, Microtonal Banana, and Nonagon. They even brought in a narrative voice-over in the spirit of Eyes Like The Sky. For a band that usually doesn’t cease to amaze, they seemed to have locked into some safe harbors on that one.

Now that makes their latest, Sketches of Brunswick East, all the more satisfying. The album, conceived collaboration with Mild High Club’s Alex Brettin, sees the band back off their breakneck psych mode, providing a similar respite on par with Paper Mâché Dream Balloon. Where that album went acoustic, this one delves into a lush jazz fusion that winks with the title’s play on Sketches of Spain but winds up lodged much further into the ’70s models of jazz-psych. The luxurious setting here lets the band sink into a completely new direction, embracing their slower jams and letting the groove drive them more than the mania.

I’ve always had a love for the band’s softer, silkier work, and after a low key show upstate NY a few years back that leaned heavily on that material (think “Stressin,” “Sleepwalker,” “Hot Water,” “Slow Jam 1”), its felt clear that they were also itching to embrace that direction. The album is all about vibe, playing up bass, hooking in Brettin’s beats to tone down their usual tornado of double drums, and letting Ambrose lay the flute on thick. This is the kind of album I look forward to from the band. It’s the kind that indulges and I’m all about their indulgence – want to keep things burning the psych core, make it microtonal, make it acoustic, learn the oboe, go jazz funk. With five in a year, they can’t all lean on the psychedelic warlord principles that shaped Nonagon Infinity. That’s a high water mark for sure, but Sketches proves that they can’t be backed into a corner.



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