The Jesus Lizard

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Liar

The Jesus Lizard - Liar ©1992 Touch & Go
1. Boilermaker
2. Gladiator
3. The Art Of Self-defense
4. Slave Ship
5. Puss
6. Whirl
7. Rope
8. Perk
9. Zachariah
10. Dancing Naked Ladies

The Jesus Lizard has an uncanny ability to make ugly noise a beautiful sound sculpture, though it's still quite ugly at the same time. Much of the attention and focus of the Jesus Lizard are the vocals of David Yow, who obviously cannot sing for the life of him...but that doesn't stop him all the same. Much of his vocalizing is distorted and processed and often reminds me of Butthole Surfers' Gibby Haynes, perhaps Yow's only contemporary. But in my view, it's the music of the Jesus Lizard that deserves the most attention. Guitarist Duane Denison uses that aluminum distortion (it's a good sound, but reminds me of a how a soda can would sound if you played it) with a largescale echo/ringing effect. His choice of rhythm patterns, chord emphasis over drum/bass and overall uniqueness make Liar a treat. "Puss" uses many of the guitar riffs that Kurdt Cobain wished he had thought up, "Rope" has a fair amount of jangly rockabilly ala Reverend Horton Heat, "Zachariah" has a bluesy swamp feel, and "Gladiator" simply just rocks out. The Jesus Lizard does define what alternative should be, as opposed to the whiny boy shoegazers who stole away the definition. Utilizing a truly edgey undeniably uncommercial approach, the Jesus Lizard is a good alternative from the rest of the half-hearted guitar strummers complaining about their girlfriends.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 05/1999

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Shot

The Jesus Lizard - Shot ©1996 Capitol
1. Thumper
2. Blue Shot
3. Thumbscrews
4. Good Riddance
5. Mailman
6. Skull Of A German
7. Trephination
8. More Beautiful Than Barbie
9. Too Bad About The Fire
10. Churl
11. Now Then
12. Inamorata
13. Pervertedly Slow

Those who found themselves apprehensive at the prospect of The Lizard procuring greener pastures with a major label can, for the most part, rest assured: Shot is an unsettling, totally aloof, characteristically jolting project. Of course they've taken steps to shorten that esoteric gap, noticeably on "Trephination" ("hey, can this guy really sing?"), but seriously folks, if the Jesus Lizard want serious radio consideration they'll have to lay off the out-of-key ranting and pointy jazz meandering.

But who would want that? One thing that's always drawn me to this band is that fact that, regardless of what ill vocal excursion Yow's on, musically, they're sneaky, squarely adept and subtely remarkable. Guitarist Duane Denison can play muted subtle jazz, rolling metal riffs, southern slide and accomplished Morricone-ish arpeggio. The crack-addled slide of "Thumbscrews" is nothing less than one of the most venomous and emphatic pieces this band has laid to wax. "Mort Beautiful Than Barbie" and "Churl" employ similar dispostitions: weird, artsy, bold and completely unselfconscious. "Thumper" is even catchy.

Despite the great favor a track reduction would have done (the final three tracks: "Now Then", "Inamorata" and "Pervertedly Slow" are inert, obnoxious and pointless, respectively) Shot lays out rhythmically acute alt-noise rock that is, for the most part, both unique and challenging. If it sounds like your rug of thumb tacks, jump in. And the Jesus Lizard press on.

Review by Lee Steadham

Review date: 12/1999

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