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Terrible Lizard - Terrible Lizard

  by Jeff Thiessen

published: 8 / 5 / 2009

Terrible Lizard - Terrible Lizard
Label: Terrible Lizard
Format: CD


Completly unsubtle what-you-see what you-get rock from Chicago-based band Terrible Lizard, which yet proves to be not totally without appeal

Sometimes the cover of something tells you all you need to know about it. Well maybe not everything, but, in certain cases, it gives you enough of a running head-start and there’s just no way the contents inside could ever catch up. Such is the case from the brand new album by Terrible Lizard, a Chicago group that actually took me a fair bit of work to find anything about. I almost couldn’t believe the cover art of the record when it arrived in the mail. As if it wasn’t clearly labelled, one might assume it’s some bizarre collection of bargain bin Blasters cover tracks, the kind of music you would be hardpressed to find anywhere besides Tijuana, perhaps a complimentary cd thrown in by some Mexican street vendor to entice you to buy a shot glass or something. In case you were wondering what the exact opposite of subtlety is, I recommend you seek out the Terrible Lizard cover image. The fact that the music totally and completely lives up my aesthetic impressions of their debut images really is a bit surprising to me, considering our world of disconnected irony and hip incongruity which encourages us to over-think absolutely everything and leave no stone unturned (of course leading us to dig our own graves when the soil yields no such stone. But folks make no mistake, the biggest error one can make with Terrible Lizard would be an attempt to read between any lines. I think the best, and most efficient way to make the most out of the music on this record, has to be to look at it the same way you view some distantly-removed yet cherished memory of your first love for example. Chances are, its literal reality is far removed from the bliss you so wistfully associate with the experience, as time has a funny way of making such unpleasant details whimper off into the night while projecting a vast majestic splendour on even the most marginally satisfying minutiae linked to a significant youth moment. Of course most of these memories are really just a product of overactive hormones, but that’s sort of how Terrible Lizard seems to play music. I suspect I will only listen to this album once, well probably twice in total, considering the first time I listened to it in its entirety I was yielding a pen/paper in each hand for the purpose of this review. The fact that the notepad was, and is completely empty should probably tell you pretty much everything you need to know about Terrible Lizard, assuming of course you haven’t seen the front cover. None of this should read as an insult, as there’s a big part of me that is getting pretty tired with bands trying to talk ideas of marriage with me before I even attempted to get my hands up their skirt in the backseat of my Trans-Am on Lovers Lane. I’m starting to think it’s getting more and more important we retain our unflinching desire to allow rock n’ roll to explain the present moment.....no, not even explain, but adequately represent the present moment, no matter what it holds for us, and expectations that surpass such an idea are not filled with rosy aspirations of a better future, instead its rooted in crude hopes for cheap nostalgia. I’m perfectly ok with some of my music having a shelf life that ends precisely when the last note on the album scampers off my stereo for the first time, but if eternalness is something you strongly desire, well you keep on throwing those pennies into the fountains, mate. If there ever was a record to pay it forward after the first listen, it’s this one. If nothing else, we begin to realize a band like Terrible Lizard is a working institution, not a voting machine. In short, absolutely nothing about the music will ask you for more then exactly however much you are willing to give at that particular moment. The music of Radiohead or This Mortal Coil may represent big ideas and the human condition in its most vulnerable state, but that doesn’t do me a lot of good when I need something to blast when I’m sweeping my driveway. None of this should read as some condescending, elitist critic bullshit. Instead I have proudly located the interminable strength of Terrible Lizard, and I won’t rest until all of you hop aboard the mothership of all that is stupid and mundane. I really hope you take me at face value when I say I truly believe that there is zero wrong with certain music being utilitarian as opposed to transcendent. If there is a fatal flaw here, it’s sometimes the music is almost too bloody simple, too recycled, and definitely too familiar. The ‘fatal’ part is fairly subjective though, providing the listener is hip to the fact that Terrible Lizard aren’t hip to any facts, as their currency seems to be the same prevalence that gripped Wall of Voodoo’s 'Call of the West' album.....an overt willingness to be a temporary fuck, even allowing us to naively believe we’re using them for our own selfish desires. And you thought post-modern feminism was a thing of the past. You know anytime I put on a new album, truth and fear thrash about in my mind, as the absence of truth, at least on a personal level, is a terrifying concept to me. I’ve always struggled with how to define musical truth as it applies to me, but a constant characterization seems to be anything tangible within the confines of what the music has set out to do. I guess what I’m trying to say is anything that allows me to see it for what it truly is, good/bad, complex/simple, evil/pure, will always be something I hold in extremely high regard, even if it takes some effort on my part. In the case of Terrible Lizard, it doesn’t. Without a doubt, this is a perfect and perhaps the only perfect example in recent memory, of a first impression sustaining itself as a permanent impression, and as long as you’re looking for a one-day stand, simplicity will triumph and most importantly, survive. At the end of the day, the great questions will not be solved by resolutions or diplomatic finesse; they will be solved by blood and iron.

Track Listing:-
1 Sweet Rock 'n Roll
2 Piece of Me
3 Slipped Away
4 Forever Blue
5 Better Way
6 Do What You Wanna Do
7 This Rock
8 Walk On By

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