King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard | Murder of the Universe (Heavenly Recordings) | Rated: 7.5
Australian psychadelic rockers King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard return for the second time in 2017. Apparently we are to be treated to a further three albums this year. Creating a lot of music in a short space of time and releasing it is a risk. That risk is only increased when you decide to put out a 21-track album, in three story arcs.
Narrated throughout, the album’s three sections are titled “The Tale of the Altered Beast”, “The Lord of Lightning Vs. Balrog”, and “Han-Tyumi And The Murder Of The Universe”. The mention of the Balrog should prick the ears of Lord of the Rings fans and deeper digs on the album will surely highlight a fluency with the lore of other fantasy stories. It’s nothing new in rock music, Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On” as just one excellent example.
Two drummers and a penchant for frenetic guitar lines means that it’s loud. It’s in your face rock music which never cruises, accelerates or decelerates quickly. Murder of the Universe sounds like a band that is having fun, and crucially know how to play. Take any guitar solo from their songs, they’re brilliant. Having seen the band live, they are enthusiastic, brilliant performers.
Despite this not being a consistently brilliant album, the sheer audacity and ambition of a band which has released 10 albums before this is remarkable. At points the album is thrilling, unlike their previous record, the excellent and more succinct, Flying Microtonal Banana, it’s just too long and in need of a trim to keep to keep only the best tracks.
In the lead singer, Stu’s, words, “We’ve always thought of our albums as portals through which you can move from one to the other”, while it’s unlikely to be the King Gizzard & The Lizard album the portal you return to, it’s the one that perhaps shows the ambition of a young, exciting band.
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Pick of the album: “Altered Beast III” | Listen on Spotify
Bedouine | Bedouine (Spacebomb) | Rated: 7
Aleppo-born Azniv Korkejian has an incredible tale to tell. Born in Syria, a childhood spent in Saudi Arabia before moving to the US via a green card lottery. In the US spending time in Boston, Houston, Kentucky and then Austin before settling in LA to record an album following a series of chance meetings, which led to her recording an album.
The self-titled debut is pleasant, if not groundbreaking. Vocally, Korkejian will inevitably find herself compared to Laura Marling. In itself that is no bad thing. As with Marling’s lyrics, Korkejian’s words elevate her music beyond being any old folk that could be heard in the background of a coffee house. If there is one issue with the album it’s that it spends its time at one speed and stays there.
There is a timeless quality to Bedouine’s minimalist folk, however. “One Of These Days” is a lovely track, “Solitary Daughter” the standout. More touching is the final moments on “Summer Cold”, which features a recreation of Korkejian’s grandmother’s street in Aleppo. Perhaps it is a theme that she’ll return to.
Pick of the album: “Solitary Daughter” | Listen on Spotify
Banditos | Visionland (Bloodshot) | Rated: 6
Crossing genres and different American styles, Banditos’ 2nd album is hit and miss. Tracks like “Strange Heart” and “Still and Quiet” the better examples. The sextets album does have its moments, but the southern rockers’ album just can’t keep the attention long enough.
The Alabamians sound a lot better when more considered and deliberate, carving their own sound. “DDT” and “Fun All Night” could be any band, in any bar south of Virginia. Maybe that’s the attraction. Ultimately, it’s an album which will go down well at a BBQ and not cause much of a fuss, and is plenty of fun in places.
Pick of the album: “Strange Heart”
Tracks of the Week
– HAIM – “Little of Your Love”: The LA group release the third track ahead of their upcoming second album, released in July. Three and a half minutes of A-grade pop.
– Radiohead – “Lift”: A near mythical song for Radiohead fans. The song finally gets a proper release on the 20th anniversary edition of OK Computer. Pitchfork even published a feature about the track.
– Julia Jacklin – “Eastwick”: Folk track from Jacklin following touring and releasing her debut album. Bewitching singing alongside some vivid lyrics.
– Grizzly Bear – “Four Cypresses”: The acclaimed Brooklyn band’s third track released ahead of their forthcoming album Painted Ruins. Daniel Rosen on vocals this time out, and it’s a foreboding and dark opening, building into a classic Grizzly Bear song.
Follow Reaction’s Pick of the Week Playlist on Spotify