The Austin Lounge Lizards’ new release, Home & Deranged – their first studio album in seven years – shows their wit is as irreverently edgy and fun-pokingly ready as ever.
The Lizards are never more enjoyable than when deflating overblown egos with their laughable lampoons, and Home & Deranged provides plenty of send-ups of the self-centric. The album’s opening song from Conrad and Hank, Enough About Me, is a tongue-in-cheek takedown of the band’s music-industry counterparts who wholly embrace their own hype. Too Big to Fail, penned by fellow Central Texas songwriter Lindsay Eck, details one man’s quest to join the gilded ranks of corporate Goliaths apparently above the law. The covetous narrator implores, “If I could lie like those guys in New York, or had a buddy in Congress to send me some pork, I’d be in a skybox popping a cork right now.” And Hank’s My Bonnie Johnson is a Celtic sailor’s rousing salute – and daring double-entendre – to his beautiful beloved, with whom he shares a not-so-long-distance love affair.
Hank and Darcie deliver a sweetly provocative duet in Thank You for Touching Me There, a reserved shout-out to courteously cautious new lovers everywhere, as well as to the Transportation Security Administration’s team of airport screeners. At the other end of the subtlety spectrum is Black Helicopters, the grunge-rock ramblings of an over-the-edge government-conspiracy theorist as he plummets to the depths of his paranoia in this dark-humored ditty.
No Lizard album is complete without a sidetrip into surrealism – sometimes labyrinthine, but always amusing. This time, the venture takes listeners into the caves of Bustamante, Mexico, Spelunking with Joe King Carrasco. This corrido-style narrative ballad, with its wildly varied cast of characters – from Frida Kahlo to Pikachu, all in search of a wayward Frisbee® – is like a Lizards’ Sgt. Pepper’s, made all their own with a Nuevo Wavo flavor, rotating shared lead vocals and a cameo from the King of Tex-Mex Rock ‘n’ Roll himself.
Darcie charts new territory for the Lizards with a couple of funny and feminine takes on romance. A cover of Emily Kaitz’s If I Saw You All the Time offers the upside to the brevity and infrequency of long-distance love, while Darcie’s own Who Needs You? gives one woman’s you-can’t-fire-me-I-quit-type response to a rover’s rejection.
Bruce contributes a trio of self-penned songs, as well. I Lied relates a groom-gone-wrong’s not quite contrite confession, while Dumb Dumb Dumb serves as a wit-worthy sequel to the Lizards’ popular earlier recording of Life is Hard, But Life is Hardest When You’re Dumb. The album’s finale, Would You Like to Start a Band?, concisely outlines the lifecycle – from “happy family” to “artistic differences” to remembrances of the “glory days” – of a band made of suitably peculiar musical misfits. Sounds familiar … .
Featuring session musician Jon Hahn on drums and an ephemeral appearance by Lizard Emeritus Tom Pittman (as himself), Home & Deranged is a tribute to the Lizards’ enduring enthusiasm for cleverly crafted wordplay, social commentary, masterful musicianship and love of laughter. It is the Austin Lounge Lizards’ eleventh album, and their third on the Houston-based Blue Corn label.