With the release of their first four albums, The Murlocs — King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s Ambrose Kenny-Smith (vocals, guitar, harmonica) and Cook Craig (bass) along with ORB’s Cal Shortal (guitar) and Crepes‘ and Beans’ Matt Blach (drums) and Tim Karmouche (keys)— firmly established a reputation for crafting fuzzy psychedelic blues, which they supported as an opener for the likes of Gary Clark, Jr., Mac DeMarco, Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, Pixies, Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks, Wavves and of course, Kenny-Smith’s and Craig’s primary gig, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard — and as a headlining act, as well.
Recorded at Button Pushers Studio, last year’s Tim Dunn-produced, 11-song Bittersweet Demons found the band lovingly reflecting on the people, who have left a profound impact on their lives — the saviors, the hell raisers and other assorted and mystifying and complex characters they’ve come across. While being among the most personal and complex batch of material they’ve written in their growing catalog, the album saw the band bouncing between and around sun-blasted pop, blues punk and wide-eyed psychedelia.
Rapscallion, The Murlocs’ sixth and latest album was released last month through ATO Records. Self-produced by the band during the early stages of the pandemic, Rapscallion‘s 12 songs were recorded in the home studios of the band’s Kenny-Smith, Shortal, Blach, Cook Craig and Karmouche. Conceived and written as a coming-of-age novel in album form, the album’s material is partly inspired by Kenny-Smith’s adolescence as a nomadic skate kid. The album’s world is wild and squalid, populated by an outrageous cast of misfits — teenage vagabonds, small-time criminals, junkyard dwellers and truck-stop transients among others. The end result is an album that thematically — and narratively — is steeped in danger, delirium and wide-eyed romanticism of youth.
Sonically, Rapscallion is reportedly a marked departure from Bittersweet Demons‘ garage rock leanings, with the album’s material featuring strains of stoner metal and post punk. And while darker and more formidable, the album’s songs are still fueled by the same freewheeling energy they’ve brought to the stage.
In the lead up to the album’s release, I wrote about three of its singles:
- “Virgin Criminal,” a decidedly post-punk song centered around buzzing and angular guitar attack, a forceful motorik groove, Kenny-Smith’s punchy and breathless delivery paired with the band’s unerring knack for rousingly anthemic hooks. And at its core is a tale of an unnamed protagonist, who describes his first crime, an ill-fated convenience store robbery, which ends in murder — and the wild thrill the narrator gets from being an outlaw.
- “Compos Mentis,” a slow-burning and pensive ballad featuring fuzzy and distorted guitars, twinkling keys and a motorik-like groove paired Kenny-Smith’s imitable delivery. While seeing the band exploring a more contemplative — and perhaps even softer — side, “Compos Mentis,” asks a far deeper, far more vexing question: Are we in control of our own minds?
- “Bellarine Ballerina,” a roaring and rollicking, mosh pit friendly ripper centered around buzzing power chords, thunderous drumming ad a relentless motorik groove. But the song is underpinned by a never-heard-before sense of malice and unease.
The JOVM mainstays will be embarking on a headlining fall North American tour that includes a November 9, 2022 stop at Webster Hall. As always tour dates are below. You can check out the following link for ticket information and to purchase: https://unclemurl.com/shows. To celebrate the occasion, the Aussie JOVM mainstays shared live footage of the band performing album track “Living Under a Rock” at The Forum: The live footage offers fans and critics, who haven’t seem them, a taste of their explosive and rollicking live show– while capturing the band playing a furious ripper. “Some people live a sheltered life by choice and some people are born into it,” The Murlocs’ Ambrose Kenny-Smith says. “‘Rapscallion’ has had enough of living under a rock. It’s time for a fresh start.”