King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard: Album ranking

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard the crazy 7 piece Australian psych gods. Can you believe since 2012 they’ve released 13 albums with 5 coming out in 2017. Sidney has ranked the whole of their discography from 13th to 1st. Let us know what you think!

13) Eyes Like The Sky

More a story tape with an accompanying soundtrack than an album. Broderick Smith’s narration is suitably atmospheric and there are some cool twangy western-y guitars here. After the fate of the protagonist in this violent western is revealed to you, you may find that the album starts to collect digital dust in your iTunes library.

 

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12) 12 Bar Bruise

This release may have been exciting in 2012. In hindsight, this record feels lukewarm when compared to the rest of King Gizz’s discography. 12 Bar Bruise is 12 noisy garage stompers. Not necessarily bad, just a little derivative (see: Ty Segall, The Meatbodies, Thee Oh Sees, Yak, Bleached etc). They draw a little too much from the sonic template of John Dwyer’s late-2000s Oh Sees thrashers.

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11) Quarters!

Bar the endlessly groovy The River, this is a collection of 10 minute jams that could have easily been faded out after the 3:30 mark. 10+ minute tracks should excite the listener (e.g. the band’s masterful ‘Crumbling Castle’ and ‘Head On/Pill’ that take you on a journey that don’t want to end). The problem with Quarters! is that nothing here takes enough daring left-turns to satisfy and it tends to leave you itching to skip to the next track.

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10) Sketches of Brunswick East

This is a great collection of breezy jazzy-but-not-jazz tunes. I don’t really have any complaints about this record. It’s perfect summer holiday listening. ‘Tezeta’ is masterful and remains one of the band’s best tracks. The only reason this album is at number 10 is that everything that comes after it is even more masterful.

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9) Oddments

This album isn’t actually masterful at all. Unlike the virtuosic noodling of Sketches, anyone with about a year’s guitar experience could play through Oddments. None of that actually matters though because these are some of the best pop songs Gizzard have ever written. ‘Work This Time’ is seriously sad (quite a feat for a band who are called King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard). ‘It’s Got Old’ and ‘Hot Wax’ feature some of the best harmonica melodies in the band’s discography.

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8) Gumboot Soup

The band’s most recent record (insert jaded joke about having released 5 more since this blog) was a great finish to their hectic 2017 – in which, as I’m sure many of you will know, they released 5 albums. Unlike the band’s previous 5 releases, Soup doesn’t follow a specific theme. This works in the band’s favour as they allow themselves to experiment further into jazz, funk, prog, garage, psych rock and metal. It almost feels like a greatest hits record minus the greatest hits. This album is epitomized by the tracks ‘The Great Chain of Being’ and ‘The Last Oasis’. Placed side-by-side towards the end of the album, we see the band switch from their heaviest, doomiest, growliest track to a beautiful Marimba laden jazzy pop number in the space of a few minutes.

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7) Paper Mache Dream Balloon

At this point it’s probably quite apparent that I have a bias towards all the Gizz albums that contain “eyyyuuuup”s and “oooooh”s. I love it when Stu does that. It’s food for my soul. PMDB hasn’t got any of those but that’s okay. Instead, this album is full of mostly stripped back folk rock songs. ‘Sense’ is wonderful. It’s actually very sexy. Seriously. Listen to that clarinet. This album is utterly Grandma-friendly whilst maintaining that classic King Gizzard sense of creeping dread that we all know and love (‘Cold Cadaver’, ‘Trap Door’).

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6) Flying Microtonal Banana

They set themselves the task of making a record entirely with guitars modified to play quarter notes and rose to the challenge spectacularly. The best tracks on here follow the blueprints left by some of the most iconic krautrockers. The motorik attack of ‘Rattlesnake’ and ‘Sleep Drifter’ is totally desert road driving music. Album highlights ‘Open Water’ and ‘Melting’ recall Jaki Leiebezeit’s best funk-rock grooves over wah-wah riffage and lyrics about impending environmental doom. The drum production here is enough to rate this album on its own; a wonderful step up from 2016’s muddy Nonagon Infinity. It’s a treat to hear two talented drummers so perfectly in-sync with each other. My only qualms about this record are the rockier numbers (‘Anoxia’, ‘Doom City’) that fall flat compared to their raucous live renditions.

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5) Float Along – Fill Your Lungs

I imagine this was the moment where the band proved their worth. In their career’s most overtly psychedelic moment, 16 minute opener ‘Head On/Pill’ is an absolute (altered) beast of a track. Starting off as a sitar lead slow jam, the 3 minute mark sees the 7 piece ramp up the tempo and embark on one of the most entertaining kraut/psych jams of the decade. Think the best parts of Boredoms, Thee Oh Sees and Neu! rolled into one. Here is the sound of the most exciting band in the world blowing the cobwebs from our brains and tearing down the decrepit statues of past icons. The rest of the record does well not to be overshadowed by the opening monolith. There are some killer pop tunes on here: ‘Pop In My Step’ and ‘Let Me Mend the Past’ (sung by Cookie and Ambrose, respectively). The closing title track is also a beautiful nugget of hazy 5/4 psychedelia.

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4) Murder of the Universe

Probably their most polarising release. A lot of fans think that its full potential was never realised. Don’t get me wrong, this album is flawed: the narration is often badly timed or there’s just too much of it and some chapters could have been shorter. Murder of the Universe, however, is one of the most consistently enjoyable releases the band has made from start to finish. The three part concept album gimmick actually works: the stories are unashamedly epic and the music even more so. These are some of King Gizzard’s most heavy, frenetic and eerie works. ‘Lord of Lightning’ is easily one of the band’s best rock tracks and could have been a highlight on Nonagon Infinity. The closing track is both chill inducing and grossly satisfying in its text-to-speak depiction of an insane vomiting robot destroying the cosmos.

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3) Polygondwanaland

Album opener ‘Crumbling Castle’ is probably the best thing the band have ever done. The long rising and falling passages building up tension, the mechanical synths, the Mind Fuzz-esque krautrock payoff and then, the real climax: a heavy-as-hell stoner doom outro. It’s a wild 10 minutes. Upon first listen, the remaining 9 tracks may seem like an extended comedown from the opener’s pounding apex. However, the squiggly synth lines, intricate drum patterns, refreshingly complex vocal melodies and slinky bass grooves makes Poly a record that I keep coming back to. There are plenty of highlights here: ‘Inner Cell’’s beautifully melodic outro, ‘Loyalty’’s noisy flute led coda in which Stu delivers the harrowing line “I will draw and quarter all their children/Just to prove I’m not a coward” and the fantastic ‘The Fourth Colour’ with its colourful hocket choruses and explosive stormy outro after over a minute of placid synth drones. The production here is also another satisfying step up, finally letting the low end truly rumble. An amazing album worth its auditory weight in gold. It’s totally free by the way.

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2) I’m In Your Mind Fuzz

A close second and a masterpiece in its own right. The album kicks off with the 13 minute “Mind Fuzz medley”, full of tight interlocking bass/drum grooves, battle-cry vocal “WOOOOoooos”, off kilter guitar guitars and some of the bands most catchy pop moments (see ‘Cellophane’). The rest of the album is full of highlights: the lonely ‘Slow Jam 1’, the beautiful wah filled love song ‘Her and I’ (a rarity in the King Gizzard canon) and the monstrous live favourite ‘Am I In Heaven’, the latter two including some of the band’s most singable vocal melodies. I love how this record sounds too: phasers, filter sweeps, reverbs and distortions are applied tastefully, giving the music colouration rather than drowning the listener in audio chaos.

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1) Nonagon Infinity

It couldn’t have been anything else. This album drops you into the passenger seat of a white-knuckle Mad Max style car chase. I’ll never forget when i first listened to the iconic first 10 seconds of ‘Robot Stop’: the yelled vocal delivery, the staccato guitars and the inevitable “WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” kicks open the doors as you begin the unrelenting, literally never-ending journey through hell that is Nonagon Infinity. This album never lets up: a new riff kicks in as another song ends, giving you about 3 seconds before a snare fill and vocal cry from Stu kicks the album back into full-throttle action. The recurring motifs, yelps and drum fills paired with the seamless song transitions acts as a sonic adhesive throughout that makes Nonagon Infinity an album rather than a collection of songs. It flows like a well functioning, scary-as-hell roller coaster. Nonagon Infinity deservedly takes the top spot. All hail King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. They will lay your god to rest.

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Words by Sidney Thomson.

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