ARTIST: THE JESUS LIZARD
LABEL (YEAR): TOUCH AND GO RECORDS (1992)
FOR FANS OF: BIG BLACK, SHELLAC, SONIC YOUTH, METZ
Words by Chris Gaduzo
I told someone I was starting a noise rock band recently, and obviously they went, "what the shit is that?" So I tried to say something along the lines of "jerky rhythms, very bass driven, dissonant guitars, riffs but more emphasis on the rhythm section…" They weren't convinced. In retrospect, I should have probably started blasting Liar, The Jesus Lizard's third album, because nothing quite sums up noise rock like this album.
The band had already made a splash with their previous album Goat, also considered a classic, but Liar, while not being as bizarre or manic as their previous work, still delivers in equal measure. Opener 'Boilermaker' doesn't waste time with a signature stop/start riff and David Yow's uncomfortable and messy vocals adding an extra layer to the barrage. The song then segues effortlessly into a locked-in bass and drum groove with dissonant lead guitar cleverly placed over the top.
Elsewhere, slow burner 'Slave Ship' crawls along menacingly, whereas songs like 'Gladiator' and the surprisingly catchy 'Puss' really show the band flexing their songwriting muscles. The bass-playing is absolutely crucial; it's repetitive, loud, sometimes intricate, sometimes fantastically simple ('Gladiator'). Enough cannot be said about Steve Albini's production. At times it sounds like the band is in the room next door, but at the same time nothing is lost.
Personally, noise rock is a fairly new thing for me, and every band I hear sounds great (only a matter of time before the "unoriginal" card starts getting played). However, considering this album is over twenty years old, it still sounds original, and nobody was doing it quite like The Jesus Lizard were in the 90s.