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Alternative & Indie - Released October 6, 2009 | Touch and Go Records

The Jesus Lizard's second album followed in the vein of the first with little immediate variation: loud, excellently produced by Steve Albini, plenty of space in the recording to emphasize the sheer force of McNeilly's drums and Sims' bass, and more besides. The little-remarked-upon ability of the rhythm section to kick out some ass-shaking jams spikes up such great numbers as "Nub," which almost predicts Rocket From the Crypt down to the gang-shout vocals, and the slower but no-less-compelling grind of "Rodeo in Joliet" (also one of the band's most inspired titles). Denison's guitar playing seemed a touch more focused at points here, the results almost suggesting such post-punk groove monsters as Gang of Four and even the Pop Group. There's a more evident melodic lead role for his work as well, as the just plain great riff that fires up "Mouth Breather" and his near-countryish twang on "Karpis" makes perfectly clear. Yow, meanwhile, steps ever more into his own persona, his lyrics now downright comprehensible and his singing levels a touch less doom- (and bass) heavy, if no less aggrieved. The staggered vocal overdubs on "Monkey Trick" are a standout, especially when Denison suddenly serves up another one of his surprisingly sweet passages as a bed. Other treats on the album include the opening "Here Comes Dudley" -- in context one of the more non-welcoming greetings around -- and the Morricone-tinged freakout of "Lady Shoes," assuming Morricone scored movies about doctors dealing with some freaky female patients. The whole album seems like a party in hell, not to mention demonstrative proof that there's still plenty of fun to be had with a basic rock lineup; it's all in the matter of how it's handled. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 6, 2009 | Touch and Go Records

While it was regarded as something of a disappointment when it was first released in 1994, in retrospect, Down stands as the last really vital album from the Jesus Lizard. It lacks the same degree of bone-crushing force and sweaty psychosis that made Goat and Liar instant classics (the band seems to be aiming for a slightly more subtle approach this time out), and most of the songs take a bit longer to sink in. But bassist David Sims and drummer Mac McNeilly were still capable of connecting like Mike Tyson against a speed bag on the heavy tunes, Duane Denison's sheets of chrome-plated guitar are as gloriously fragmented as ever, and there's never been a rock vocalist before or since quite like David Yow. It was also the last Jesus Lizard album to benefit from Steve Albini's spare, dry recording; if ever there was a band that didn't take to a more "hands-on," "user-friendly" production, it was the Jesus Lizard, and between Albini's decision not to work with the group again after they signed to Capitol Records and the departure of drummer McNeilly, this group was never the same in the studio again. Liar was the greatest recorded moment for the Jesus Lizard, but Down captured one of the most powerful American bands of the 1990s in their last gasp of twisted glory. © Mark Deming /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 6, 2009 | Touch and Go Records

From the first few seconds, in which "Boilermaker" leaps out of the speakers like a crank-addled mugger armed with a tire iron, Liar captures the Jesus Lizard in gloriously manic and muscular form, and if it sounds a bit less grimy and psychotic than Goat, the album that preceded it, this is still the musical equivalent of a ranting lunatic you would never dream of sitting next to on the subway. While said lunatic would probably be best personified by vocalist David Yow, whose litany of gasps, bellows, and shrieks is freakishly eloquent even when you can't figure out what he's saying, the drill-press guitar of Duane Denison and the constant rhythmic pummel of David Sims and Mac McNeilly conjure up a remarkably convincing re-creation of the noises in his head, and the band's taut, rapid-fire precision and striking command of dynamics (no matter that the silences appeared in split-second bursts) generate a groove that manages to be sensuous and uncomfortable at the same time. And while the crashing force of cuts like "Gladiator" and "The Art of Self-Defense" is what folks commonly associate with the Jesus Lizard, the spaghetti Western nightmare of "Zachariah" shows they can slow down without losing any of their impact in the process. Liar isn't quite the wildest or weirdest album the Jesus Lizard ever made, but it may well be the strongest, and perhaps the best. © Mark Deming /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1996 | Capitol Records

The big difference between the Jesus Lizard's first major-label album, Shot, and their independent records mainly lies in the fact that their long-time producer, Steve Albini, is no longer behind the boards. Albini was reportedly infuriated that the band decided to make the plunge to a major label for their brief EP for Giant Records, so he cut off all associations with the band. The Jesus Lizard hired GGGarth Richardson, who had previously cut albums for the Melvins and L7, so his noise-rock credentials should theoretically all be in place. But they're not, at least on Shot. The album sounds too similar to a conventional, major-label alternative hard-rock album with pushing rhythms and distorted guitars with clean attacks. David Yow still screams his vocals and Duane Denison's guitar riffs are appropriately gnarled and twisted, but the album is in desperate need of the grit that Albini's abrasive lo-fi productions lent to the band's earlier records. Furthermore, the Jesus Lizard hasn't progressed musically since the early '90s -- they still churn out the same, noisy post-Butthole Surfers/Big Black indie-rock as before. Since the music doesn't have the same scathing kick as it did on Goat or Liar, Shot just sounds like a pointless exercise in treading water. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 6, 2009 | Touch and Go Records

With McNeilly in to provide a little more human swing to the proceedings -- appropriate given Denison's own jazz-madness tendencies -- the Jesus Lizard fully launched themselves on an unsuspecting world with Head. The brutal, bass-heavy slam of the music, testament to the uncredited engineering/producing abilities of Steve Albini, gives the whole record a punch that most indie rock didn't have at the time, looking ahead to where similarly minded groups like Helmet (also produced by Albini) would end up soon enough. The McNeilly/Sims rhythm dictates the songs, letting Denison and Yow both find their own way over the chugging brusqueness as they see fit. Yow for the most part sounds like he's singing through a wall or through a huge amount of cotton gauze, making his lyrical tales of violence, twisted living, and the like one for lyric-sheet readers to work out, but the amped-up roars and leers evident in his vocals do a fine job on their own. Then again, the song titles aren't exactly ones to suggest flowers and roses, as "My Own Urine," "Waxeater," and the perfectly creepy "If You Had Lips" make rather clear. Yow's Birthday Party worship is now one more readily shared by the band with McNeilly's presence, the fusion of dark blues and proto-punk rampage -- "My Own Urine," in fact, being a good example of just that -- let to run loose. The stentorian stomp of "7 vs. 8" and the stabbing attack of "Good Thing" in particular might as well be early Cave on the vocals, Yow in mad-preacher mode in excelsis. There's a definite weird playful touch all the band's own, though, whether it's in the sassy strut that starts "If You Had Lips" or even, on the start of "Pastoral," a bit of chiming guitar prettiness. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1998 | Capitol Records

The first thing one notices about the Jesus Lizard's Blue is that finally you can hear enigmatic singer David Yow's vocals clearly. Without a lyric sheet, one didn't stand a chance of making out the majority of Yow's disturbed vocals on past releases, but thanks to producer Andy Gill (Red Hot Chili Peppers, ex-Gang of Four guitarist), it's no longer a necessity. It also marks the first recording appearance of new drummer Jim Kimball (with longtime guitarist Duane Denison and bassist David Sims rounding out the band), and shows that the band may be one of the most musically underrated rock bands today. Melody is also stressed more than ever (especially when compared to their noise-landslide first albums) on Blue, which heightens the band's unpredictability even further. And although the album proves to be a consistent full-length listen, some standout tracks include "I Can Learn," "And Then the Rain," and "Post Coital Glow." The surprising "Until It Stopped to Die" shows the band laying down a killer jazz-like groove, with Yow adding his trademark eerie vocals on top of it. The Jesus Lizard's Blue proves that they're still one of the most challenging bands on the music scene today. © Greg Prato /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 18, 2000 | Touch and Go Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 6, 2009 | Touch and Go Records

The Jesus Lizard's first formal release, this five-song EP shows that the engagingly evil minds behind Scratch Acid songs like "Mary Had a Little Drug Problem" were hardly about to change their ways, certainly not by coming up with a murky, echoed beat-fest called "Happy Bunny Goes Fluff-Fluff Along." The use of a drum machine on this initial release doesn't actually hurt the incipient group too much; if anything, it intensifies the brute punch of the music. Denison's freaked-out sheet-metal-abuse approach to guitar playing gets plenty of moments to rip forth; the teeth-grinding squeals of songs like "Blockbuster" and "Rabid Pigs" are hardly easy listening. Yow oddly sounds a bit distanced and mysterious at many points, almost conversational, but more than once he unleashes his ghost-of-Nick Cave breathless howl. Certainly the chorus on "Bloody Mary" will have most checking for bodies or monsters under the bed. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released August 20, 1993 | Touch and Go Records

A six song EP from the abrasive swollen-tongued genius of the Jesus Lizard, four of which are from live performances in 1990 and 1992. The two studio tracks, "Glamorous" and "Deaf as a Bat," are standard Lizard: tinny, precise, straight-out rock covered over with the insane, rough/twangy growl/scream/spit of David Yow. The live tracks, including the incessantly killer "Bloody Mary," do well to document the band's live prowess -- complete with Yow's sporadic ramblings and seething bite. Grrrrr. © Blake Butler /TiVo