King Gizzard

Australian psychedelic rock band King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard has been making waves in the rock music scene over the past decade and is only getting bigger and better every day. 

If you’ve known me for any period of time over the past several years, you’ve probably heard me talk about this wonderfully named group of madmen a couple of times. The Aussie rock band is one of the most prolific rock groups out there, and they’re easily my favorite band. So, needless to say, I have been looking forward to writing this article.

The group released its first album, “12 Bar Bruise,” in 2012 and has since released a total of 15 full-length records. Each album has seen these madmen diving into a new sound completely different from their previous work. The genre ranges from jazz and softer acoustic material on one end of the spectrum to apocalyptic thrash metal on the other.

With the release of their 16th record, the semi-self-titled “K.G.,” a week away, it very much feels like King Gizzard is entering a new phase of its discography. To celebrate this, I’ve decided to open the door and take on the task of ranking all 15 of their albums to date. This list doesn’t include EPs such as “Willoughby’s Beach” nor any of the six live albums they’ve released this year. I’m just focusing on the main studio releases, which will certainly still provide plenty to talk about. 

I’m sure a few of the choices on this list might upset some of the Gizzheads out there, but hey, it’s just my opinion. I love each album on this list in one way or another.

15. “Eyes Like The Sky”

King Gizzard’s second album, “Eyes Like The Sky,” is certainly the black sheep of the band’s discography. The record is basically a Wild West style audiobook with killer backing music to it. There are no sung lyrics in the album. Instead, the band opted for a spoken word story written and recorded by Broderick Smith, father of band member Ambrose Kenny-Smith. 

Listening to “Eyes Like The Sky” feels like watching an episode of an old 50s Western TV show. Having that kind of experience provided by a group of seven wacky Australians undoubtedly makes it a fun listen. The reason it’s at the bottom of this list, however, is simply because it’s an album that’s hard to revisit frequently. The rest of King Gizzard’s material is easy to listen to on a loop, but “Eyes Like The Sky” is something you’ve really gotta be in the mood for. 

Favorite Tracks:

“Eyes Like The Sky,” “Year Of Our Lord” and “Evil Man” 

14. “12 Bar Bruise”

It kind of hurts putting King Gizzard’s first record, “12 Bar Bruise,” this low on the list, as it's home to a myriad of different Gizz classics, such as “Elbow” and “Footy Footy.” The album is a solid garage-rock jive that is definitely their roughest release in terms of mixing, but there are a lot of great moments that hinted at what was to come for the band.

“12 Bar Bruise” is a great first outing for The Gizz, as it immediately makes their eclectic, fun-loving style apparent. It’s easy to see that the songs on this album are made by a group of friends that are just making the strange tunes they want to make, which is an approach the band would go on to take with the rest of their releases. But “12 Bar Bruise” is where it all began, so it gets respect for that.  

Favorite Tracks:

“Elbow,” “Cut Throat Boogie” and “Uh Oh, I Called Mum”

13. “Oddments”

A quick Google search defines the word “oddment” as “a remnant or part of something, typically left over from a larger piece or set,” which is an accurate description of King Gizzard’s fourth record, “Oddments.” The 2014 release basically just consists of B-sides and other random tracks that hadn’t worked their way onto any of the band’s first three records. As a result, this makes “Oddments” one of the band’s most varied records in terms of style and energy.

The record is simultaneously home to some of King Gizzard’s strangest tunes, such as “Vegemite” and “Hot Wax,” while also largely consisting of laid-back and intimate acoustic tracks like “Homeless Man in Adidas.” Despite the lack of a cohesive idea behind the record, “Oddments” still provides a first-rate Gizzard experience, and it’s a decent place to start if you’re looking to get an idea of the band’s varied musical style. 

Favorite Tracks: 

“Vegemite,” “Work This Time” and “Hot Wax”

12. “Quarters!”

“Quarters!” is an odd entry in King Gizzard’s discography, as the album is simultaneously the most relaxed and strict in terms of its concept. The 2015 record consists of only four songs, each one clocking in at exactly 10 minutes and 10 seconds in length, so each song takes up exactly a quarter of the total listening time of the album. 

Despite the exactness of the songs’ lengths, the tracks on “Quarters!” don’t have a strict structure to them, and they’re basically just the band jamming out, feeling free to improvise while recording. There’s a lot of soft jazzy material intermixed with the more rocking and driving sound typically expected of King Gizzard. I personally find the result a bit mixed in terms of quality, as not all of the tracks needed to be 10 minutes long. “Infinite Rise” and “God is in the Rhythm” feel like they carry on a bit too long just to match the predetermined length. However, the album did produce “The River,” the wavy floating psychedelia of which makes for arguably one of the best tracks to come from any of King Gizzard’s albums, so that certainly gives “Quarters!” a few bonus points. 

Favorite Tracks:

“The River” and “Lonely Steel Sheet Flyer”

11. “Gumboot Soup”

“Gumboot Soup” is similar to “Oddments” in the sense that it’s basically just an “other songs” album. It was the final record to be released in 2017 after the band embarked on the impressive journey of releasing five full-length albums that year. The result is that the songs on “Gumboot Soup” are almost entirely leftover tracks that hadn’t made their way onto any of the previous four records that year. Just like “Oddments,” this gives the album a varied feel, except this time around it’s a more focused and refined King Gizzard sound, as the band had only developed its talents and gotten more experimental in the years since. 

The tracklisting of the album goes from the lax and mysterious opener “Beginner’s Luck” and the quirky jam “Barefoot Desert” to “The Great Chain of Being,” a sludge metal track that’s one of the heaviest songs the band has put out. “Gumboot Soup” is a testament to the band’s determination to stay fresh and willing to experiment with different sounds. I wish I could put it higher on this list since it’s a really solid record, but the rest of the albums The Gizz has put out are just that good.

Favorite Tracks:

“Beginner’s Luck,” “Muddy Water” and “The Great Chain of Being”

10. “Float Along – Fill Your Lungs”

Released in 2013, “Float Along – Fill Your Lungs” is the band’s third album, and it’s the record where the group really started to hone in on what they wanted to be. This is, in large part, due to the gargantuan 16-minute opening track “Head On/Pill.” The track is a madhouse of weird synth sounds and guitar solos that miraculously manage to come together and keep the song coherent for its entire length. The track highlights King Gizzard’s open-minded approach to taking on these kinds of grand, sweeping rock-suites that have since become commonplace for them.

Though “Head On/Pill” is certainly the fan-favorite track from the record, “Float Along – Fill Your Lungs” is still home to a slew of other great Gizz songs. Whether it be the sitar-riddled title track, the Beatles-esque “Pop In My Step,” or the raw emotion of “Let Me Mend The Past,” each track on this record brings something new to the table. 

Favorite Tracks:

“Head On/Pill,” “Let Me Mend The Past” and “Float Along – Fill Your Lungs”

9. “Fishing for Fishies”

“Fishing for Fishies” is another oddball in King Gizzard’s discography. The 2019 album largely ditches the hard psychedelic rock of much of their material and trades it in for a lighter yet still energetic sound to boogie to. The album has a bit of a Southern twang to it, which gradually evolves into more of a techno sound highlighted on tracks like “Acarine” and “Cyboogie.”

The album is also one of King Gizzard’s most openly critical of society, as many of the tracks talk about the dangers of climate change and consumerism. The title track touches on the idea of overfishing, “The Bird Song” speculates as to the perspectives of animals on human industrialization, “Plastic Boogie” is basically a diss track on single-use plastics and “Cyboogie” is about humans becoming too entranced with technology. 

“Fishing for Fishies” takes the award for King Gizzard’s most bopping record, and honestly I think it unjustly gets a bit overshadowed by the band’s other 2019 release “Infest the Rats’ Nest.”

Favorite Tracks:

“Plastic Boogie,” “This Thing” and “Cyboogie”

8. “Flying Microtonal Banana”

This is a choice I anticipate to get heat for, as many Gizzheads consider “Flying Microtonal Banana,” the first of their five 2017 releases, to be one of King Gizzard’s best. That’s a sentiment I entirely understand, as the album is definitely one of the band’s most experimental. On this album, subtitled “Explorations into Microtonal Tuning Volume 1,” King Gizzard plays around with microtonal tuning, which basically involves playing the intervals found between the notes of traditional 12-note tuning. The result is that the record has a very strange, nearly offkey sound that mixes remarkably well with the band’s eclectic energy.

Some notable tracks off the record include the opener, “Rattlesnake,” a fast and propelling song that is iconic amongst Gizzheads, as well as “Sleep Drifter,” a softer, almost-ballad about slipping into a dreamlike state. As a whole, “Flying Microtonal Banana” is one of the best executions of a concept you can find in King Gizzard’s discography. It’s a fan favorite for a reason. 

Favorite Tracks:

“Rattlesnake,” “Billabong Valley” and “Nuclear Fusion”

7. “Murder of the Universe”

“Murder of the Universe,” another 2017 release, not only has the most hardcore title of any King Gizzard album, but it’s also one of the darkest, both thematically and instrumentally. The album is split into three distinct segments, each of which tells a separate story of an apocalyptic world. The album takes a page out of the “Eyes Like The Sky” playbook and utilizes a fair amount of spoken word segments. In fact, most of the story from each chapter is relayed this way, but the spoken word is much more intertwined with the rhythm and general atmosphere of the album than it was before.  

The first chapter, “The Tale of the Altered Beast,” consists of the first nine songs of the record and depicts a strange world full of monstrous creatures and thematically explores the idea of someone's desire to embrace their darkest and most violent tendencies. The second chapter illustrates an epic battle between two figures known as “The Balrog” and “The Lord of Lightning.” The final chapter details the account of a cyborg named Han-Tyumi, who, in his quest to regain his humanity, ends up destroying all of existence and creating a new world of his own vile desires.

This record used to be one of my least favorite of King Gizzard’s, almost entirely as a result of the spoken word passages, but I’ve since come around on it and appreciate it for the ghastly musical experience it provides. 

Favorite Tracks: 

“Altered Beast IV,” “The Lord of Lightning” and “Digital Black”

6. “Paper Mâché Dream Balloon”

We’ve reached the point on this list where I consider the rest of these albums to be top-tier Gizz content. “Paper Mâché Dream Balloon” was my favorite King Gizzard record for a long while. In a sharp turn from the last album on this list, this album has a relaxed, almost homey atmosphere to it. It was recorded using exclusively acoustic instruments, which makes it feel as if it’s being performed by a group of hippies somewhere in a quaint forest. 

Though the acoustic instrumentation naturally makes the album one of King Gizzard’s softest, the classic sound and attitude the Aussies are known for still rings true throughout the whole thing. For example, the song “Trapdoor” is certainly still an energetic psych rock song, despite its primary melodies being played on flutes and standing basses. “Paper Mâché Dream Balloon” also features some outstanding harmonica melodies that make it feel a bit old-timey and an absolute blast to listen to. 

Favorite Tracks:

“Sense,” “Trapdoor” and “The Bitter Boogie”

5. “Infest the Rats’ Nest”

I mentioned earlier that this 2019 album overshadowed the release of the other album King Gizzard released that year, “Fishing for Fishies.” Well, the fact that “Infest the Rats’ Nest” contains similar ecological themes but with an intense apocalyptic thrash metal edge is why.

This album sounds like something Metallica would’ve released in their early days. It’s the only straight-up metal album King Gizzard has done, and they knocked it out of the park. From the intense riffs of songs like “Organ Farmer” and “Self-Immolate” to the slower, dredging “Superbug,” “Infest the Rats’ Nest” is far and away King Gizzard’s most hardcore record to date. It’s a completely different sound from the rest of their material, and given it’s their most recently released album, I hope we get more like this moving forward. 

Favorite Tracks:

“Planet B,” “Self-Immolate” and “Hell”

4. “Polygondwanaland”

“Polygondwanaland” is undoubtedly the King Gizzard record that took the most focus and excruciating detail to make. The album experiments with wild, abnormal time signatures, as the band often does, but it also doubles down and makes the entire project one strangely marching tale of a faraway land full of mad monarchs, wizards and dinosaurs.

The opening track “Crumbling Castle” is a 10-minute long delve into some of the most experimental material King Gizzard has released to date. Meanwhile, the rest of the album tells a myriad of different stories of uprising, enlightenment and various other interesting concepts. It’s an album that feels like it should be relayed by a strange old sorcerer on some ship set for the stars, and it’s hard not to love every minute of it.

Favorite Tracks:

“Crumbling Castle,” “Deserted Dunes Welcome Weary Feet” and “Loyalty”

3. “I’m In Your Mind Fuzz”

Though King Gizzard discovered its identity on the third album “Float Along – Fill Your Lungs,” it was on the band’s fifth album, “I’m In Your Mind Fuzz,” that they embraced it. This album has some of the best jams the band has ever recorded. The opening “Mind Fuzz” suite, which consists of the first four tracks on the album, is some of the best material the band has put out. It’s a strange psychedelic journey of mind control and television hypnosis, and the beats and rhythms found within the suite are impossible not to sing and groove along to.

What makes “I’m In Your Mind Fuzz” one of their best, though, is how it’s able to mix these wild, drug-fueled ideas with more genuinely personal material. Whether it be the existential questioning of “Am I In Heaven?” or the intimate love song that is “Her and I (Slow Jam 2),” the tracklisting falls all along various points of a psychedelic rock spectrum, but it all mixes together remarkably well to make for an aural experience unlike any other.

Favorite Tracks:

“Cellophane,” “Am I In Heaven?” and “Her and I (Slow Jam 2)”

2. “Sketches of Brunswick East”

This album is considered by many Gizzheads to be one of the band’s worst, and I genuinely do not understand why. Admittedly, it’s another oddball for the group, as they teamed up with the band Mild High Club to make what’s basically a psychedelic jazz album. 

This was the first King Gizzard album I really got into, and it still holds its spot as one of my personal favorites. It’s a love-letter to the band’s home of Brunswick East in Melbourne, Australia, and the soft psychedelic jazz-rock city soundscape it creates is unlike anything I’ve ever heard. The actual audio of a bustling city makes it ideal for casual listening while walking, biking or driving anywhere, as the natural sound of the environment around you only adds to the atmosphere the album is creating. When I was first introduced to this album, I knew my taste in music would never be the same. It’s a calm joyride of a record that isn’t afraid to take its listener in some pretty strange directions, and it will always hold a special place in my heart.

Favorite Tracks:

“Countdown,” “The Spider and Me” and “Sketches of Brunswick East II”

1. “Nonagon Infinity”

Even though the upcoming “K.G.” is taking the mantle of a self-titled record for the band, “Nonagon Infinity” feels like a self-titled record in spirit, as the album entails everything the band is. This record is their magnum opus. Each track brings its own distinctive flavors to the record, all the while maintaining the intense, blood-pumping rock that feels like it’s made to blow speakers. 

Making the album all the more impressive is the fact that each song plays seamlessly into the next, including the last song to the first. So, the album can literally be listened to on an endless loop for all of eternity without any breaks. It’s nonstop insanity in all the best ways. From the opening words of “Nonagon Infinity opens the door” on “Robot Stop,” to the chugging closing track “Road Train,” which feels like it would fit in very well in a movie like “Mad Max: Fury Road,” every song on this album is an absolute knockout. The intertwined nature of the record makes it come together perfectly and present one cohesive experience for the listener. 

It’s the kind of album that, if one song from it plays while you’re listening to your music library on shuffle, you’ll just get sucked in and end up listening to the entire album for a millionth time. It’s an outstanding and utterly out of this world record that is and will always be one of my all-time favorite albums from any artist. 

Favorite Tracks:

“Robot Stop,” “Gamma Knife,” “Mr. Beat” and “Evil Death Roll”

culture@dailynebraskan.com