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Where do I begin: King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard

Arts & Entertainment/Music by

With a name like “King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard,” a band is likely to be either out-there and silly, or innovative and revolutionary. Luckily for the music world, this group delivers on both accounts.

Formed in Melbourne in 2010, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard is a seven-piece ensemble that includes two singers, two drummers, and three guitarists. The group is signed to their own label, Flightless Records, owned by drummer Eric Moore.

Since their debut, King Gizzard has released 13 albums, with five albums promised—and delivered—in 2017 alone. Those albums genres’ include, but are not limited to, jazz, folk, psychedelia, progressive rock, and metal.

If one can get past their admittedly-ridiculous name, King Gizzard deserve exploration from all listeners. They are transforming the music scene by bridging genres and releasing an unreasonable amount of music, all while not taking themselves too seriously.

Integral to the band’s aesthetic is their tongue-in-cheek attitude. It manifests in bits and pieces of their music, but can also stretch across entire tracks. This can result in the group repeating a single lyric ad nauseum—à la “Rattlesnake” or “Trapdoor”—until the words ring in your head; at other times the group will sneak in goofy riffs that harken back to carnivals or reuse old, tired motifs that spring to life in their new context.

With their dizzying and, perhaps, overwhelming discography, the question of where to start listening can be daunting. While tastes differ, the three albums below are a starting point for newcomers, each representing a different genre.

Without further ado, the best album to start with is Paper Maché Dream Balloon (2015). This folksy acoustic album begins with my personal favorite King Gizzard song, “Sense.” The track is defined by a smooth saxophone line and the unusually subdued voice of the band’s frontman Stu Mackenzie. Paper Maché is a departure from King Gizzard’s typically heavier and more distorted sound. Other tracks that shouldn’t be overlooked include “Bone” and “Cold Cadaver.”

Next is the third of five albums released in 2017, Sketches of Brunswick East. This mellow psychedelic jazz album was created in collaboration with the Melbourne-based Mild High Club. The name is in reference to Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain, while also paying homage to the Melbourne neighborhood. The album’s standout track is the six-eight metered “The Spider and Me” that includes samples of running water, birds chirping, and bandmates laughing. While the whole album is a jazz-infused extravaganza harkening back to the Rhodes keyboards and experimental improvisation of the golden era of jazz, its shining moments include the laid-back “You Can Be Your Silhouette” and instrumental “Rolling Stoned.”

Lastly, the fifth of five promised albums for 2017, Gumboot Soup, was squeaked out on Dec. 31. This album is an anthology of B-sides from the four albums that preceded it, yet coalesces as something greater than that. The first track, “Beginner’s Luck,” begins sparsely with Mackenzie’s reverb-affected and distorted voice asking to the listener to gamble, then breaks into an upbeat verse. As the chorus arrives, Ambrose Kenny-Smith’s sultry voice warns the listener to avoid hubris. Another notable track, the relatable “I’m Sleeping In” is a fitting anthem for lazy mornings during this gloomy and frigid semester.

King Gizzard has also released several metal and progressive rock albums. If these genres are your cup of tea, check out Murder of the Universe, Nonagon Infinity, Flying Microtonal Banana, and Polygondwanaland.

Regardless of your musical preference, there’s something in King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s discography that is sure to catch your ear. If the three albums mentioned above don’t do it for you, check out some of their other albums such as Oddments, with its groovy, indie sound, or the long-form jazz album Quarters. Whether you’re already a diehard fan or if you can’t find a single song that appeals to you, King Gizzard is bound to drop a least another album with a fresh, genre-blending sound before the year ends that could easily become your new favorite.

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