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Music / The Jesus Lizard

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The Jesus Lizard were a Chicago-based Noise Rock band formed in 1987, characterized by David Wm. Sims' and Mac McNeilly's tight rhythm section, Duane Dennison's screechy guitars, and the zany antics of the appropriately named vocalist David Yow. They achieved cult status among the 90's underground rock scene, and at times even flirted with mainstream success, but due to their somewhat challenging and noisy style, they never managed to break through.

Yow and Wm. Sims were previously members of Scratch Acid along with Rey Washam, while Washam and Wm. Sims formed the Rock Trio Rapeman alongside Steve Albini, who also produced every Jesus Lizard album until Down. Wm. Sims also made guest appearances on albums by Industrial Metal Supergroup Pigface and Sparklehorse.

After breaking up in 1999, the band remained popular and respected in the indie rock community, and in 2008 decided to reunite and go on a highly successful tour that ended in 2009. According to the band, this was probably the last time they'd ever play together.

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Discography:

  • Pure (EP) (1989)
  • Head (1990)
  • Goat (1991)
  • Liar (1992)
  • Down (1994)
  • Shot (1996)
  • Blue (1998)

Live albums:

  • Show (1994)

Tropes associated with the band:

  • Alternative Rock
  • Cover Version: Their reading of Trio's "Sunday You Need Love Monday Be Alone" plays with the Rearrange the Song trope. It has the same key and tempo as the original, but it's a minute shorter, adds a guitar solo, and generally has the rougher, more aggressive sound you'd expect from Jesus Lizard. And while both versions have half-spoken Creepy Monotone vocals, David Yow uses a lower, more insinuating tone than Stephan Remmler does in Trio's original.
  • Dreadful Musician: David Yow, though he uses Harsh Vocals to great effect.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: Good luck trying to figure out what the hell Yow is trying to say in most songs. Even the lyric sheets seem to be inaccurate at times.
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  • Insistent Terminology: Yow prefers the term "vocal stylist" as opposed to "singer".
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Note how every album has a one word, four letter title. There's even an official coffee-table book about the band called... Book.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Mostly in the 6-7 range, with some songs going somewhat higher. The noise and the Harsh Vocals are what push it as high as it is, arguably.
  • New Sound Album: Shot, released in 1996, was a significant departure from their classic, Albini-produced albums. Garth "GGGarth" Richardson's production was more mainstream oriented, which caused many fans to feel disappointed.
  • Noise Rock
  • One-Word Title: All the band's albums, and many of their songs as well.
  • Post-Hardcore
  • Refuge in Audacity: The lyrics and live shows before the breakup. Many of the stories about the latter are very NSFW.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Bassist David Wm. Sims sang on the studio version of "Blockbuster" - it's hard to tell without reading the credits, because his voice turns out to be extremely similar to David Yow's.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: "Pastoral", a beautiful ballad about a rotting corpse.
  • Take That!: The band have stated that "Rabid Pigs" is one towards Rabid Cat, a former record label of Scratch Acid. Despite the prevailing fan theory, they've denied that "Good Riddance" is one to Steve Albini.
  • The Unintelligible: Yow, both on record and live.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Yow.

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