In exactly 14 days time, the unpredictable and explosive King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard will release Fishing For Fishies, their 14th record to date, since their 2012 debut LP, 12 Bar Bruise. Fourteen records in seven years might sound incomprehensible, but then so does putting out five albums over the course of one single year, something this Aussie psych-garage septet challenged themselves to in 2017. Needless to say, they delivered on all accounts, with each album showcasing their unworldly artistry from a new angle.
Though still relentlessly touring, the band took some mighty well-earned respite from recording in 2018, making this their first time going longer than ten months without putting out new music. So to celebrate the return of The Giz, here are 14 of their best, and most prolific tracks to date – in album order:
- Willoughbys Beach (2011) – CROOKEDILE
Though not part of the 14 album figure, the Willoughby’s Beach EP, King Gizzard’s first release, has something of an unshakeable cult following. A true punk record of songs that barely reach the 3-minute mark, this particular track displays the same warped, spookiness that radiates through more recent material, such as Digital Black, or even Satan Speeds Up, in terms of the haunted house imagery the groove conjures up. The video above comes with a bonus play of another EP track, Lunch Meat – aren’t you lucky!
- 12 Bar Bruise (2012) – MUCKRAKER
A song with an intro riff so good that they replay it twice, this song is lo-fi garage pop that makes you want to move. The lyrics are barely legible, but you don’t care – you just want to sway your hips and quietly hum along anyway. The synth line that creeps in every now and then arrives as a soothing lullaby among the fuzzy instrumentation, before the perfectly dizzying whammy showcase in the final 20 seconds.
- Float Along (2013) – HEAD ON/ PILL
A song of two halves, Head On/ Pill is a deep dive into the bands more psychedelic sensibilities. Starting with kooky, hypnotic sitar and slow lazy drums, the bridge into the next section of tune is a slow building two minute journey into driving guitar leads and swirling riffs. With a whopping five guitars playing at one time, this is a lysergic, cocophonous ballad of acid drenched psych.
- Oddments (2014) – IT GOT OLD
The assumedly unimaginable overlap between Western folk and psych pop exists, and it lives within this song. Flute and harmonica take centre stage, as in the only notable instance throughout their 13 albums, frontman and self-confessed creative director of the band Stu Mackenzie uses his lyrics to explore love and relationship dynamics. (This theme follows into the more melancholic and emotion-ridden Work This Time, which plays next on the album – it would have made it onto this list if it wasn’t restricted to 14 songs!)
P.S. The video above is a weird, incoherent fan video that really ought not to exist, but we’re also kind of glad that it does.
- Oddments (2014) – VEGEMITE
The only album to get two songs in this line up; this song is a benchmark track for demonstrating the more campy, playful essence of the band. It can be hard to remember their goofier side in the mist off their unrelenting creative excellence, but King Gizzard began as a light-hearted ‘party band’, an essence they have never completely thrown away. Vegemite is a perfect excerpt of how the band blend satirical, meme-worthy content with chiming, earworm melodies – it’s also weird as hell, which is a win in my opinion.
- I’m In You Mind Fuzz (2014) – I’M IN YOUR MIND MEDLEY (Live on KEXP)
Whilst this is not a single song, it was absolutely impossible to leave out.Probably the most incredible run of songs ever released by The Giz, the band play the first 4 songs from their Mind Fuzz album as an uninterrupted loop of wacky, blues-tinted hysteria. The percussion and bass maintain a consistent groove throughout the four song stretch, while the rest of the band bend and twist their melodies around the groove, as Stu’s vocals work their way into your mind (fuzz).
- Quarters (2015) – THE RIVER
As one of just four songs on another of King Gizzard’s concept-focused albums, The River is 10 minutes and 10 seconds of dynamic, revolving instrumentalism. Laden with funk and psych sensibilities, this song, with it’s Dave Brubeck – Take Five inspiration is one that you replay internally, hours after listening. Like the other songs on the album, The River also demonstrates impeccable scale climbs and outstanding harmonica melodies.
- Paper Mache Dream Balloon (2015) – SENSE
This song perfectly delivers the essence of ‘60s psych pop. With its subtle injections of flute vibrato and intricate layers of indistinguishable acoustic instruments, it’s hard to believe this is the same band that brought you songs like Garage Liddiard and Satan Speeds Up. But, notoriously unpredictable, on this album, and particularly with this song King Gizzard demonstrate just how versatile and dynamic a group of long-haired Melbourne dwellers can be.
- Nonagon Infinity (2016) – ROBOT STOP
Landing with the world’s first never-ending, loopable album, Robot Stop is an incredibly ferocious start to one of their most acclaimed records. Just like the accompanying music video suggests, this song is wild, spooky and dense, playing as what you’d imagine a garage-soaked, amped up haunted house theme tune might sound like. Guitar and vocal melodies zigzag through the bridge and chorus, and like most prolific songs by the septet, who can forget the spectacular harmonica solo?
- Flying Microtonal Banana (2017) – OPEN WATER
Led by fat tremolo guitar lines that seep through this song like liquid, Open Water’s lyrics are some of the most stimulating on the record. In particular, the middle 8 moment where it feels like Stu’s voice is chasing you around a revolving door with it’s hypnotic soundscapes. The drums on this song are also at their most prolific, compared to the rest of the microtonal tunes on this album.
- Murder Of The Universe (2017) – THE LORD OF LIGHTNING
This is one of King Giz’s darkest, and most manic songs to date, which is exactly why it is an undeniable contender for this list. The standout of the few long play songs on this monologue-heavy album, Lord of Lightning is a crescendo moment on the record, filthy with doomy riffs and throat-clenchingly menacing, harsh vocals, particularly in a live setting!
- Polygondwanaland (2017) – CRUMBLING CASTLE
Progressive and haunting, Crumbling Castle, like the rest of this album is an experiment into polyrhythms. Beginning with a middle eastern groove, across its ten minute play time this warps into a myriad of styles, ending in a lo-fi, fuzzy playout that sounds, as aptly as the title suggests, as if it is crumbling away right from the core.
- Gumboot Soup (2017) – BEGINNERS LUCK
The first song from their final album of 2017, Beginners Luck is smooth and classy, airily filled with kaleidoscopic guitar and flirty, tongue-in-cheek vocal timbres. The dream-like nature of this song also does a great job in masking the sobering message within the lyrics, that warns of the dangers of gambling, cheating and being consumed by greed.
- Fishing For Fishies (2019) – FISHING FOR FISHIES
Of course the final slot in this run down had t be saved for this new anthem, that harks back to Oddments’ Vegemite, with its kooky nature and comedic concept video. However despite comparisons, their progress is clear. Sounding almost like a sea shanty/ lullaby hybrid, here the band have found a perfect balance of humour, artistry and concept, able to create fun, light-hearted music that remains supported by solid instrumentation with a subtle, sociocultural message.
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s 14th album Fishing For Fishies is out on April 26th, 2019.
Note: Because it’s a collaborative album with Mild High Club, we decided not to include Sketches of Brunswick East in this countdown. However, it remains a beautiful jazz-inspired, spacey album with standout songs including A Journey to (S)Hell, and Countdown. Honorable mention also goes to the bands somewhat under the radar second album Eyes Like The Sky, inspired by the 12 Bar Bruise banger Sam Cherry’s Last Shot. A concept album narrated by Broderick Smith, father of keys/ vocals/ harmonica player Ambrose Kenny-Smith, this album was an early hint that the band would go on to create content like that we heard on MOTU.