King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard back in all their strange and wonderful glory: Here's why you should be excited
After a release of five back-to-back hit albums in 2017 and a relatively quiet 2018, the Aussie psychedelic rockers are all set to return with their fourteenth studio album.
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard is a band that keeps its promises. Back in 2017, the Australian experimental psych rockers promised fans not one, not two, but five albums in one year. Some thought it was an impossible feat to achieve while others just laughed it off. Most fans were just excited to see if one of the most prolific bands of our time would deliver on their promise. Much to fans' delight and disbelief, the band did just that. They released five records over the year, each album as impressive (if not more) than the previous one, stunning fans and critics alike.
It wasn't as if King Gizzard churned out five hurried records to keep their word. As is often the case with King Gizzard, each album was at least loosely a concept album, possessing its own unique identity and flavor, spread across a range of experimental genres.
The first of the five albums was 'Flying Microtonal Banana', which was previewed with their most recognizable song today - 'Rattlesnake'. The album saw the band experimenting with 'micro-tones': the notes between traditional notes on the Western scale that are mostly used in Oriental and Middle Eastern scales but are largely absent in the Western tradition. Originally conceived as a record to be played on the Turkish baglama (a stringed instrument with movable frets), 'Flying Microtonal Banana' has been described as "a soaring take on microtonal music".
The second album of the year was probably KGLW's heaviest sounding till date. 'Murder of the Universe', a prog rock odyssey was divided into three chapters, each one telling a fantastical story through spoken word samples. Apart from being their heaviest album, it could arguably be their most polarizing one as well, but it still was a credible, fully fledged and well thought out record and showed that the band was still pushing boundaries while trying to keep up their promise of five records.
The third full-length album, 'Sketches of Brunswick East', arrived in August of 2017 and was a collaboration with Alex Brettin's psychedelic jazz project Mild High Club. Taking inspiration from Miles Davis' 1960 album 'Sketches Of Spain', as well as the band's base recording location of Brunswick East in Melbourne, it is an improvisational jazz album that again marked a hard left turn in the band's soundscape.
But perhaps the most unbelievable release came in the form of the fourth record of the year 'Polygondwanaland', which King Gizzard boldly released digitally for free in November 2017 instead of putting it out via their own Flightless Records.
In true indie, underground style the band made a statement that challenged the pre-established notions of music distribution in the current industry. "We do not own this record," King Gizzard boldly declared. "You do. Go forth, share, enjoy."
Fans were quick to respond with crowd-sourced vinyl pressings. Many small independent labels put out their own vinyl pressings, and some even donated proceeds to charity. It was an exciting experiment in music sharing and it garnered a new wave of fans and street cred for a band that never ceases to innovate.
Finally, after teasing fans and leaving the "Gizzverse" in a grueling game of will-they-won't-they, King Gizzard released their fifth and final album of the year 'Gumboot Soup' on the very last day of the year, making it just in the nick of time to keep up their promise.
Whether it was a publicity stunt or just a matter of keeping up with the promised deadline, one thing was for sure - the year undoubtedly marked the creative peak for the Aussie rockers.
After the five-album run, the band decided to take a well-deserved break from releasing new music the following year. Instead, they chose to re-release their older material and produced five reissues: the EP 'Willoughby's Beach' (2011), their debut LP '12 Bar Bruise' (2012), 'Eyes Like the Sky' (2013), 'Float Along – Fill Your Lungs' (2013) and 'Oddments' (2014), each release complete with updated artwork on CD and vinyl.
While purging from their five-album binge through 2018, King Gizzard toured extensively across both sides of the Atlantic, hitting some high-profile music festivals along the way including Desert Daze, Rock en Seine, and their very own Gizzfest.
With the turn of the new year, the band was quick to promise new material. On February 1, the band put out a music video for their new single 'Cyboogie'. The track showcases a groovy bassline with a space-rock feel, with frontman Stu Mackenzie heavily treated vocals giving the lyrics an almost inhuman, robot-like delivery. The track was well received by fans and critics alike amidst contemplation of a new studio album coming soon.
In March, King Gizzard confirmed the speculations as they announced their fourteenth album, 'Fishing For Fishies', due out on April 26 via the band's own Flightless Records.
The announcement was followed by the release of the title track, which arrived with its own trippy music video (no surprises there!) that sees Mackenzie afloat on a raft with a fishing rod as he taps his feet along to the psychedelic blues ballad.
This time around, King Gizzard seems to be going for a blues-heavy sound but also laden with a lot of "boogie" as is evident from the tracklisting. Three tracks from the total of nine - 'Cyboogie', 'Boogieman Sam' and 'Plastic Boogie' have the word "boogie' in their titles.
“We tried to make a blues record,” Mackenzie said of the album. “A blues-boogie-shuffle-kinda-thing, but the songs kept fighting it — or maybe it was us fighting them. Ultimately though we let the songs guide us this time; we let them have their own personalities and forge their own path. Paths of light, paths of darkness. This is a collection of songs that went on wild journeys of transformation.”
The sentiment is evident in the third and latest single from the album, 'Boogieman Sam', which arrived late last month. The track kicks off with a quintessential blues riff that sustains through most of the song. Coming across like a ’70s throwback, complete with rolling guitar licks, a soulful harmonica part, gentle background harmonies and a kickass guitar solo, the track falls in stride with the two previous single releases to define a cohesive sound for the album.
Whether 'Fishing For Fishies' is just the first of another bulimic outpour of records from the overachieving septet or just a stand-alone album for the year remains to be seen but something tells us the latter that might not be the case.
Meanwhile, King Gizzard has confirmed a string of North American tour starting in August and wrapping up in October which will see the band hit a host of venues across the US and Canada. You can check out the full schedule of dates on their official website and grab tickets here. Also check out the album art and the tracklisting for 'Fishing For Fishies' below.
Fishing for Fishies tracklisting:
01. Fishing For Fishies
02. Boogieman Sam
03. The Bird Song
04. Plastic Boogie
05. The Cruel Millenial
06. Real’s Not Real
07. This Thing