Jesus Lizard: Head 12"

Touch & Go Records

$22.50

With McNeilly in to provide a little more human swing to the proceedings -- appropriate given Denison's own jazz-madness tendencies -- the Jesus Lizard fully launched themselves on an unsuspecting world with Head. The brutal, bass-heavy slam of the music, testament to the uncredited engineering/producing abilities of Steve Albini, gives the whole record a punch that most indie rock didn't have at the time, looking ahead to where similarly minded groups like Helmet (also produced by Albini) would end up soon enough. The McNeilly/Sims rhythm dictates the songs, letting Denison and Yow both find their own way over the chugging brusqueness as they see fit. Yow for the most part sounds like he's singing through a wall or through a huge amount of cotton gauze, making his lyrical tales of violence, twisted living, and the like one for lyric-sheet readers to work out, but the amped-up roars and leers evident in his vocals do a fine job on their own. Then again, the song titles aren't exactly ones to suggest flowers and roses, as "My Own Urine," "Waxeater," and the perfectly creepy "If You Had Lips" make rather clear. Yow's Birthday Party worship is now one more readily shared by the band with McNeilly's presence, the fusion of dark blues and proto-punk rampage -- "My Own Urine," in fact, being a good example of just that -- let to run loose. The stentorian stomp of "7 vs. 8" and the stabbing attack of "Good Thing" in particular might as well be early Cave on the vocals, Yow in mad-preacher mode in excelsis. There's a definite weird playful touch all the band's own, though, whether it's in the sassy strut that starts "If You Had Lips" or even, on the start of "Pastoral," a bit of chiming guitar prettiness.
Tags: 90s noise rock reissues