Posts Tagged ‘ Pitchfork ’

Liar by THE JESUS LIZARD is Awesome

So I first heard of The Jesus Lizard back a couple of years ago; ran across their name at some point online while searching for loud abrasive music.

I think I was looking up music associated with producer Steve Albini, the guy who produced The Pixies and the Mclusky album that I really really like. At one point he was quoted as saying that The Jesus Lizard was the best band in the world.

Well that was a good enough reason for me to give them a listen. I looked up which album of theirs was supposed to be the best, found out is was their 1992 album Liar, put it on a mp3 CD and put it in my car.

To be honest, the first couple of times that I tried to listen to it, I didn’t get very far. The music was loud, crazy sounding, and well sometimes it just takes me a bit to warm up to new music.

Especially music in which the singer does his best to sound like a raving madman as much as possible. Some would say that it’s an endearing quality of the group; while I won’t go that far I will say that the way that singer David Yow belts out his partially indecipherable lyrics is unique.

A lot of the time you can’t really understand him, and he doesn’t really go in tune with the music, or really in tune with anything. It’s a little creepy at times honestly. But it’s part of their musical Je ne sais quoi, if you will.

Considering that, the thing that really makes The Jesus Lizard stand out is that their music is awesome. Right from the very first instant of sound the guitars are crunchy, and explosive. It’s like an awesome musical punch in the face. It’s disorienting, and amazing, and you’re thrown into this world of crazy man screams and distortion.

The first song Boilermaker pretty much sets the tone for the record. It’s got this repeating riff that is all grindy, and then there’s a crazy breakdown part, and it’s loud and awesome.

The second song, my favorite of the album, and one of my favorite loud awesome songs of all time, Gladiator is a standout. It’s got a pounding drum beat that goes with a bassline that just powers through most of the song, this sort of loud violent pulse. The chorus breaks it up with the guitars coming in violently over the crazy dude, there’s some more noise, and things crescendo even more. I’ll use the word awesome again here to describe the song: Awesome.

The thing is that the music is really measured and exacting, you can tell that the chugging and the noise explosions are done with precision and skill, they’re a great foil for the crazy vocals, which is why the band works.

The album changes from the sonic assault of the first few songs to a slower yet still crazy self at times, but it just shows that The Jesus Lizard has the chops to do variety. Songs like Slave Ship and Zachariah, are almost tortured feeling in their slow intensity.

It’s just great to hear loud crazy music that doesn’t have to fall into all the silly trappings of Metal. They’re frequently lumped with the noise rock guys, but The Jesus Lizard aren’t unfocused in their attack, they’re pretty meticulous in their intensity. You always feel like theirs this sort of musical violent intensity that just boils below the surface of their sound.

So yeah I’m pretty sure I’ve gotta practice a lot more with the whole writing thing before I can pop out the sort of metaphor filled reviews filled with musical hyperbole that the likes of Pitchfork can pop out, but I’m workin on it.

I’ll fall back on my favorite descriptive word here to describe Liar, the 1992 album by the band The Jesus Lizard.

AWESOME.

But hey, not everything I write about can be silly movies that I can post funny captioned screencaps from, so deal with it.

Also I might invest some more time in using a thesaurus.

Japandroids

I, much like a lot of people first heard of Japandroids last year from the pitchfork review.

An 8.3 on pitchfork usually means that the music is something I’d hate, but I’m glad we agree every once in a while.

I downloaded their album, gave it a quick skim and kinda forgot about it for a bit.

Last summer I was on a trip to San Francisco and saw that they were playing in town, so I decided to see how they were live. Turns out it was pretty amazing. The guys just have such an earnest quality, a lot of emotionality if you will, that translates to something amazing when you’re literally a foot away from them.

I remember waiting over 90 minutes to try and get a ticket for the small venue, The Hemlock Tavern. I can’t really remember too many specifics about the show itself, I remember hearing a good number of the songs off of their album Post Nothing, and they closed their set with an awesome cover of Mclusky’s To Hell With Good Intentions. It was easily one of my favorite shows of 2009, I took a ton of really awesome pictures of them performing, and got them to autograph a vinyl copy of their album for me. It was a pretty awesome way to spend my last night in California.

Since then I’ve revisited Post Nothing a whole ton of times, and can easily say that it is one of the best records of 2009.

It starts off with a song song that perfectly conveys the feel you’re gonna get from the whole rest of the album. The Boys Are Leaving Town begins with 15 seconds of single not strumming before the fuzz soaked chords blast out. They don’t sound harsh, just fuzzy. While all the songs are fuzz drenched, it never becomes a wall of noise, it’s always got a nice melody under the surface, there always sounds like there’s something more than the fuzzz, and that’s what helps to make them sound great.

At 35 seconds the drums kick in. To guys, one guitarist, and one drummer.

There’s a total of two lines in the song “They Boys Are Leaving Town, Will We Find Our Way Back Home“. They’re repeated, sometimes with both members of the band singing at the same time, sometimes with Whoooaaaa thrown in, but that pretty much sums up the song writing style of a lot the album. Instead of lots of filler lyrics they just say what’s important and say it simply and repeat it.

A lot of the lyrical content seems to take place in between those lyrics, about the life that comes after leaving town, growing up, coming to terms with the changes involved with coming into the world, and what to make of it. It’s a relationship album too, about half the songs are about girls.

The song Young Hearts Spark Fire has the lines: We used to dream, Now we worry about dying, I don’t wanna worry about dying, I just wanna worry about those sunshine girls. It just feels so real, without attempting to poeticize things, they just say how they feel, they sing it in harmony, and it sounds 100% genuine.

That’s the best thing I can say about Japandroids as a band, they always sound 100% genuine. There’s no irony to their music, they’re just two dudes, singing and playing their hearts out.

And they play those hearts out quite well. There’s some great riffs on the album, Crazy/Forever has a stand out catchy riff, while most of the other songs have various different sounds that string through different harmonies. There’s no solos or guitar heroism if you will, but there’s this dynamic to most of the songs, where the heavier and lighter parts of the chords being played stand out from each other. Sometimes you’ll hear the crunch and then part of the chord will change and you’ll hear the brighter notes changing through the fuzz. It all sounds quite dynamic, even though a good portion of the songs are just chord progression. The progressions never seem like filler cause there isn’t your common AB, AB, C, AB son structure, so the songs always sound large, and formidable.

They’re lo-fi if lo-fi sounded a lot better, and they’re refreshing in this time of generally shitty rock. They’re a breathe of fresh air, without pretense, but full of ambition. Suffice to say Post Nothing is a great album. Japandroids is an awesome band, and I hope that they continue being awesome in the future.

Speaking of the future I guess I should mention their new single that you can listen to on their myspace. It’s called Art Czars and it’s super awesome.


I’m really sorry if you want more screaming
You missed my heart but you’ve got my ears bleeding
Here’s your money back
Here’s your punk rock back

Lightning Bolt – Wonderful Rainbow – the best album from 2003 that I purchased in 2009

God I don’t even know where to begin here.

I’m not 100% sure where on the internet I heard of them, but I was in a music purchasing mood around that time. I decided that this band in pure concept sound loud enough, crazy enough, to warrant a blind buy; and they had some pitchfork cred too. (What pitchfork cred counts for I’m not really sure, but hey)

I had about a month earlier purchased a CD from a band called Harry Pussy. It is sometimes hard to quantify their sonic output as music as it sounds like the tortured screaming of some insane person trying to kill an instrument for the most part. You don’t so much listen to their music, but endure it. I felt that just for the simple fact that they created and album of what has sometimes been called Anti-music, something that amounts vaguely to ear-rape, I should pay 9.99 to own it. It’s something special.

From there I moved to the more musical parts of the noise rock genre. Somewhere in my stumbling through various musical recommendations I came across Lightning Bolt. I read of insane live shows with ear splitting volume levels, musical freakouts, and saw the fact that the vocals are delivered from a microphone that the drummer wears taped inside of a ski mask. They sounded insane, and the fact that they’re just a Bass & Drum duo made them even more enticing.

I generally like minimalism.

Lightning Bolt is not about minimalism.

Lightning Bolt is about about pure sonic force and density.

The album begins with Hello Morning, a 55 second string of strange bass noises and drum beats that evokes waking up, assuming you’re a bass, waking up, on cocaine.

It promptly explodes into Assassins. A song that shows the core of the bands sound. Dense, chugging noises that builds, shifts, flails, swarms, and erupts. There’s vocals in the background, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call them lyrics, as they’re pretty much just crazy noises made from inside the drummer. The effect of the music is immediate, and it’s hard to believe that it’s just two dudes putting for such power.

Dracula Mountain, a song so awesome that even MUSE has done a cover. The main riff is first sung before the song evolves into a series of bass riffs and freak outs.

Two Towers, the fourth track, is a marathon of intensity.

On Fire, is a song full of time changes, and even has parts that could be considered mellow. In other words, it’s awesome.

Crown of Storms is my favorite song from the whole album, has noises that could almost be described as actual lyrics, and has a rhythm that is essential a crazy tapping solo that changes back and forth into a sluggish riff. It’s amazing. There’s a ton of melody here, and that’s what put Lightning Bolt in a class above most of their peers.

Then there’s Longstockings, which starts off as easily the most melodic portion of the whole album, with nice sounds and drumming that doesn’t sound crazy. But it devolves into one of the albums weirdest freakouts, full of sounds that don’t even sound identifiable as coming from a bass.

Wonderful Rainbow, is a breather song that allows you to catch you breath, right before 30,000 Monkeys shows up sounding like multiple guitar solos jam packed into one time frame. One of the noisiest songs on the album.

The album closer Duel in the Deep starts with long bass twangs that crescendos into a sort of tribal sounding beat that sounds like it’s being played in the ocean. It continues until it dies in a slow dissolve of shrill high pitched feedback, it’s like the cool down after a workout.

The album is amazing and I can’t recommend it enough to anyone who is looking for relief from all the dreck on the radio, or think metal has gotten too stale. This is music made for blasting with the windows down and for getting dirty looks from old people while you drive by in parking lots. This is music for those of us who know that it takes more than just chops to sound good, it takes innovation and the willingness to try new things.  If you like rock and don’t need silly lyrical theatrics getting in the way of the sound you crave.

Wonderful Rainbow is a monument of sound, and whether you like it or not you cannot deny that it has power.

Lightning Bolt - Wonderful Rainbow

I’d recommend just buying the album cause it’s great, but if you click the link below you’ll go to a download page.

GIVE IT A LISTEN