The Jesus Lizard are the greatest rock and roll band of all time.
The Jesus Lizard managed to pull me away from a musical landscape filled with terrible hardcore posturing and pale indie rock mediocrity. I had heard tracks like “Nub” and “Mouthbreather” earlier in life, as they'd graced a couple burned mix CDs I had made. I respected them for being “fucking out there, bro.” It took spending a couple years in a moderately fun, but rather milk-toast aggro indie-rock band, and just basically needing to reevaluate what the fuck was happening to my life, musically. I mean, c'mon, Refused couldn't be the best band in the world after all, right?
Of course, Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, and Fugazi are mature, highly-important, artistic bands but I was looking for something that would kick me in the balls, and hard. There was also the Bad Brains, Negative Approach, and Black Flag (though I wouldn't truly appreciate My War's fucking nutso vibes for a couple more years — we'll save that for another day), but I wanted something weirder, dare I say, something a bit more avant-garde, something a little more creepy, something more fucked up.
So I went backtracking through the years; scraping the nice, chunky, dark bits from those withering mix CDs: some Born Against here, a little Shellac there, and a smidgen of Melvins, Hammherhead, and maybe even Swans or Arab On Radar. I just said, “fuck it,” and dove in. I bought the Head + Pure combo cd the same day I bought Songs About Fucking by Big Black. Shortly after came Karp's Suplex, a little later it was the Laughing Hyenas' Life Of Crime and Drive Like Jehu's self-titled album. Yeah dudes, as much as this is an article on The Jesus Lizard, enjoy the extremely vague lesson in noise-rock. Ultimately, The Jesus Lizard is the band I like to thank for spearheading my attack on weird-fucking-rock-and-roll, and helping bring more radical musical movements to the forefront in my mind.
The Jesus Lizard were a rock and roll band, through and through, just as much as Led Zeppelin or The Stooges, but they had this way of fucking it all up, in the best way possible. They made rock and roll feel dangerous, like at a lunatic level. They made that shit feel maniacal. It had a slime-soaked groove, but a chaotic, claustrophobic feel that obviously owed a ton to David Yow's madman howls and cackles that hung up front, while also somehow managing to stay buried in the muck. Duane Denison's riffs were vicious, haggard, and gritty. Homeboy was not afraid to drag a slide across the strings, and everything suddenly felt like some sort of skewed, schizophrenic western. Lastly, of course, you had the backbone rhythm section of David Wm. Sims and Mac McNeilly on bass and drums respectively, adding the grease and structure to the lumbering creature that mangled boring rock and roll.
Here's a few Jesus Lizard tracks that sit real well with me…
All the records The Jesus Lizard dropped via Touch And Go recently, like in 2009, got a remastered reissue. The band also reformed in 2009 and played a bunch of shows and got a lot of dicks hard, but unfortunately, if I hear correctly they're back to doing their own things now… Bummer vibes, dudes.
The Jesus Lizard are the greatest rock and roll band of all time. Shit though, Laughing Hyenas come pretty close.