The Jesus Lizard
Down


3.5
great

Review

by profoundword USER (15 Reviews)
February 1st, 2012 | 16 replies | 3,676 views


Release Date: 1994 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Solid, underrated album from the grunge years.

3 of 3 thought this review was well written

Formed from the remains of popular Texan punk/noise rock band ‘Scratch Acid’, the Jesus Lizard were a band that combined some serious punk swagger with a love of experimentation and grungy aesthetics to become one of the better acts in the wave of alt rock bands that sprung up in the ‘90s. Down is one of their later albums, and is considered by many to be some of the last quality work the band would ever do.

It is a record that, true to form for the Jesus Lizard, sounds at times unconventional and varied, and at others down right schizophrenic. In some ways the Jesus Lizard were emblematic of the musical landscape of their time. They are, both in their influences and sound as pure a ‘90s band as you will ever come across. Every second of Down oozes ‘90s, with their brooding attitude, shambolic, fuzzed out riffs and their ambivalent and wacky approach to their music. Combine this with their punk history and you can clearly see how they were able to thrive in a popular music world dominated at the time by one angsty, complicated punk rocker from Aberdeen.

Down is a record that twists and turns from brooding and atmospheric passages to frenzied anarchy and back again so regularly that trying to keep up could almost induce motion sickness. Indeed, the Jesus Lizard often sound more like a collection of musicians playing their own tunes in the same room than a band recording together. During some of the more frenzied choruses on Down, one can easily imagine the band just having a jam where every couple of minutes they simply try to drown out everyone else’s instruments with their own. But, such is the way for the Jesus Lizard. This manic streak is a core aspect of their DNA and it is by no means a bad thing. It provides great contrast with their more atmospheric build ups and also sets them apart from many other acts that were springing up at the height of the grunge movement who’s dynamics were often just a carbon copy of the Pixie’s verse, massive chorus, verse routine. This craziness in their music and their attitude actually makes them quite a fun band to listen to.

Aside from this, their quieter moments are also worthy of mentioning. Down is littered with roomy bass grooves where the guitar intertwines over the top creating some great atmosphere, before eventually cascading into the massive, hyperactive choruses that define the Jesus Lizard’s sound. Album opener Fly On The Wall is a great example of this with a brilliant bass groove to kick the album off before the rest of the band lends their contributions to the ensuing slab of manic rock. Down, in a sentence is a sludgy, atmospheric, fuzzed out, heavy punk/grunge album. It borrows a little Fugazi style atmosphere here and a touch of Buzz Osborne attitude there, but it still stands on it’s own for originality.

It may not be the Jesus Lizard’s greatest work, but it is still a rewarding listen for fans of ‘90s alt rock and grunge bands. If, like myself, you see it sitting around cheap in a second hand store then consider buying it. It is a very worthy addition to any ‘90s grunge/punk/alt collection.



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user ratings (73)
Chart.
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
accompliceofmydeath
February 1st 2012



4083 Comments


I think this is the only Jesus Lizard I haven't heard. Good review. Gonna go jam Goat now.

Digging: Crowbar - Crowbar

scissorlocked
February 1st 2012



3479 Comments


need to check this band

Digging: Fantastic Mr Fox - Sketches

accompliceofmydeath
February 1st 2012



4083 Comments


Get Goat or Liar first.

porch
February 1st 2012



8390 Comments


decent review, about time this got one. dunno why you felt it necessary to place so much emphasis on linking them with what passed for 90s grunge, they didn't really overlap with any of that

accompliceofmydeath
February 1st 2012



4083 Comments


Yeah, but split with Nirvana = grunge, obvs :S

porch
February 1st 2012



8390 Comments


oh shi

yea well hey nirvana were at least closer in spirit to TJL than the other big grunge bands, i.e. they
had some balls

Wizard
February 1st 2012



18773 Comments


Great review and thank you for reviewing something out of the norm around here.

Digging: Triptykon - Melana Chasmata

SowingSeason
Emeritus
February 1st 2012



14511 Comments


I only ever heard Goat but I loved it

wabbit
February 1st 2012



6742 Comments


^really?

SowingSeason
Emeritus
February 1st 2012



14511 Comments


yeah...why do you ask?

profoundword
February 1st 2012



239 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Cheers guys, I associate TJL with much of the other '90s alt rock stuff because I usually really dig anything even half decent from that time period. I admit the grunge connection is a bit loose but I guess it's more just an expression of my love for the period than anything else, maybe a bit of context for those who haven't heard of TJL

evilford
February 3rd 2012



19994 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Jesus lizard is a common nickname for a basilisk, due to their ability to run on top of a water surface.

I'm just starting to explore some TJL. I have Goat and Liar and both are great. Definitely gonna delve further into these guys' catalogue.

Nice review too.

Gwyn.
March 4th 2014



13990 Comments


Save for Blue, the sole Jesus Lizard album I've yet to listen to - Will fix that

Polyethylene
April 1st 2014



2955 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Gwyn buddy Blue is amazing, don't listen to that awful 2.7 avg rating (my defensive review of it coming soon)

Gwyn.
April 1st 2014



13990 Comments


I think Shot is in bigger need of a review - I prefer that over this, even if it sounds too clean all the members were in good shape on that album (They were in shape here too but not as much)

The Scratch Acid debut EP also should get a review as far as Yow-related projects go

I still haven't listened to Blue either lol but nah the reason I've stayed away from it is because McNeilly was replaced for that album

Polyethylene
April 5th 2014



2955 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This and Shot are both 3.5s, Shot is better songwriting wise but yeah production is too clean

Blue's is even slicker but they do something with it - it's super nuanced, atmospheric and creepy. Drums are industrial-lite and really sweet




nothing can touch Goat though



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