by Brandon Carson
Australian band King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard made 2017 their year. The band put out five records throughout the year, with only a couple months in between each: Flying Microtonal Banana, Murder of the Universe, Sketches of Brunswick East, Polygondwanaland and Gumboot Soup. The five records added up to a total of 13 albums in their entire discography since 2012, making for an incredible work ethic. In 2018, however, the band took a much-needed break, letting the five records sink in with the fans to decipher where they fit in the “Gizzverse”.
Gizzard returned with “Cyboogie” in January of 2019, surprising fans with its electronic influence and sound. Later, the band announced Fishies, a nine-track record with a heavy blues sound. Fishies finds Gizzard at their most accessible and most different. Once again, the band has made an original album with a sound they haven’t touched upon too much.
A fun boogie-oogying sound
As a songwriter, frontman Stu Mackenzie has always written differently for each album. One may be a huge, dirty garage rock thriller; while another may be a psychedelic microtonal trip. On Fishies, Mackenzie and the band have delivered a blues rock sound with their own unique twist to it. “Boogieman Sam,” part one of the boogie trilogy, has “road trip” written all over it. Ambrose Kenny-Smith’s harmonica blares (which is found all over the record and in Gizzard’s discography) has a Led Zeppelin-esque riff that gives the track some groove. “Plastic Boogie,” part two of the boogie trilogy, starts off with a mathy blues riff, leading to a fun, stomping beat that truly defines “boogie.” This new style for Gizzard gives the album plenty of personality and truly stands out amongst their 13 other albums.
However, other sounds can be found on Fishies too. The title track offers a calm, folky experience while the final track and part three of the boogie trilogy, “Cyboogie,” is a completely electronic take on the blues. This mix of sounds is justified by the flow of the album, starting off in folk blues and slowly transitioning into electronic blues that make for excellent changes in the pacing of the record. On Fishies, Gizzard took an overused style, the blues, and added their own personality to it, making it refreshing to listen to.
Conscious lyrics and stellar performances
Gizzard has made a clear message with Fishies; don’t destroy Mother Earth. Mackenzie’s lyrics never really had an in-your-face approach until now. “Plastic Boogie” discusses the dangers of our reliance on plastic and the inevitable death that comes from plastic being dumped in the ocean. “The Cruel Millennial” is a tongue-in-cheek comment on modern day youth, and “The Bird Song” asks the important questions: “To a bird what’s a plane?”. These lyrics are far from generic and add a lot to the message of the record. The Gizzverse is also present on this record with the great return of Han-Tyumi, the character created in Murder of the Universe, giving plenty for fans to look into.
The performances on Fishies are tight and crisp. Mackenzie and Kenny-Smith’s voices complement each other well while the drums provide excellent beats to the inventive blues riffs. With this being a blues record, the production should be centered around that style. Not only did Gizzard deliver with their production, but they added their own sound to the mix. Woodwinds flood the mix on “This Thing” and the title track, making for great transitions. Not one instrument feels out of place here.
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Featured Image: YouTube
Fishing for Fishies
'Fishing for Fishies' finds Gizzard at yet another great original sound through mixing blues with psych-rock. The songs are a strong set of great lyrics, tight performances, and a wide variety of sounds. I’m very excited to hear what is coming next from one of the best and most unpredictable bands of the 2010s.
Brandon Carson is a Journalism Major. He reviews music for Byte and also makes his own music on the side.