Saturday, 8 August 2009


Also known as the Jeebus Wizard - 'Cryer'.
The title is in fact a not-so-cunning attempt to throw off search engines, as this tremendous album is being kept off blogs quite effectively. I presume it has something to do with the fact that the Jesus Lizard have recently reformed for touring, and September will see the remasters of these albums released. Make no mistake, the reissues of 'Liar' and 'Goat' will be worth copping, but that shouldn't stop people from judging it for themselves.

'Liar' is essentially a refinement of the preceding album which is often cited as their magnum opus 'Goat', and to my ears it's actually a vast improvement. I was listening to a Flipper-infuenced post-hardcore band of recent times called Pissed Jeans, who have flashes of greatness but are missing something, and thought 'who are these guys stealing their ideas from?'. Flipper were around at a time during the inception of hardcore American punk in the early 80's when it was fashionable to play as fast as possible, garble lyrics about the LAPD and speed. Flipper played extremely slow and sung about isolation and downers. So that's the tempo covered, but as it turns out Pissed Jeans were ripping off a band of great infamy I had shamefully never investigated, called the Jesus Lizard.

JL were one of the many bands that Kurt Cobain launched by wearing their t-shirt and talking about them in interviews, and you can see why he admired them so: nothing is straightforward, the rhythms are all syncopated and the time signatures skewiff, songs are liable to flip on you at any moment, the guitar playing is the most awe-inspiringly abstract display you will hear from the post-hardcore school, and the furious rhythm section props the whole thing up on shaky stilts. People talk about Jones and Bonham of Led Zeppelin being the definitive bass/drums pairing, but they wouldn't be caught dead playing anything this angry and penetrating, which only serves to increase JL's appeals for me. That's not to say that the band isn't capable of reigning it in and delivering the goods without attacking their instruments, as on 'Zachariah' and the trudging 'Slave Ship' that puts you right in the hull of a galleon... for a few albums they were basically like the grunge archetype, free of arena-rock anthemic pretensions.

David Yow: a cross between latter-day Mark. E Smith and Iggy Pop?

Nobody really sounded like this before, and everyone's favourite noisenik producer of raw aggression Steve Albini is, predictably, pulling the strings. In lesser hands, soft-around-the-edges production could have ruined a Jesus Lizard record, but instead Albini is probably responsible for cementing their reputation as a lean sonic-sledgehammer assault. The guitar pierces space and vocalist Yow sounds like he's being buried alive in the mix. 'Liar' is more accessible than a pure noise-rock record, but more searing than straight middle-of-the-road grunge...

Despite this being an old CD issue, it's in 320kbps and is the best quality you'll find online.
And that covers Duane Denison's part of the Tomahawk posts!

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