The Jesus Lizard - Liar

Album: Liar
Artist: The Jesus Lizard
Released: 1992
Rating: 4.5/5

The Jesus Lizard were one of the better known noise rock bands of the late 80's-early/early-90's. There's a reason for that. It's because they were better than most of their contemporaries. Bandmembers David Yow and David Wm. Sims had cut their teeth in the short lived but now legendary Scratch Acid and Sims had also been a member of Steve Albini's also short lived Rapeman project (Albini also produced the first four Jesus Lizard albums, including this one), so they knew what they were doing.

The opening line of the album is where I'm assuming it takes its title, Liar, from. As "Boilermaker" starts to suddenly launch out of the speakers and nearly physically assault you (credit goes to both the bands very committed performance and Albini's very clear production which really allows it all to come through), Yow screams "I'll calm down" repeatedly. Of course, he doesn't , and the band just hits the chorus where everything gets faster and louder and Yow becomes more unhinged until the song comes to a halt as abruptly as a car hitting a wall.

That's a basic overview of what The Jesus Lizard does, although they do vary it up throughout Liar. They take it slow a few times, which allows for some really (intentionally) uncomfortable songs that grind and twist carefully before exploding. Other times, they let in little bits of other styles, like the bits of western textures that show up on a few songs, or the often funky rhythm section. It's things like these that keep Liar continuously interesting instead of letting it grow monotonous like some noise-rock releases do.

The guitar is usually used in quick, violent, syncopated bursts, and, despite Albini's involvement, still sounds pretty much like a normal guitar on the album. More focus is placed on the rhythm section, which can manage some pretty funky moves, although people are more likely to bash each others skulls in while listening than dance. David Yow's vocals are comparable to the ranting of someone who's been locked away in an institution for the criminally insane (and, based on what I've heard about TJL's live shows, Yow probably belongs in one).

For anyone at all interested in noise rock, this is worth picking up.

Highlights: "Boilermaker", "Puss", "Rope"