The new third full-length from SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM, In Glorious Times (The End Records), puts this Oakland troupe in the running to be the greatest art-rock band since King Crimson–and because they temper their grandiosity with self-conscious derangement and even outright silliness, in the grand scheme of things they come off a good deal less silly than Fripp and company. They like to call what they do “rock against rock,” but nothing about their maximalist aesthetic is self-cancelling: the new disc comes down on your head like a plummeting elevator full of amplifiers and scrap metal. Any neo-prog act this wildly inventive vaults so far past the usual benchmarks for focus and discipline that it has to redefine them on its own terms–for SGM they mean trimming back the frenzied oddity in favor of weight and clarity, producing music that’s like a thorny, surrealistic topiary garden.
Philadelphia’s STINKING LIZAVETA sound dark, dense, and doomy on the new Scream of the Iron Iconoclast (At a Loss), recorded by longtime fan Steve Albini. The music is still instrumental–unless you count guitarist Yanni Papadopoulos screaming into his pickups–with snaky rhythms like a belly-dancing brontosaurus and more than a whiff of Greek/Balkan influence. But despite the best efforts of drummer Cheshire Agusta to keep the album afloat, it sometimes sinks into predictability or even mundanity. Historically though these folks don’t have the same problem onstage–their unflashy virtuosity and improvisational chemistry make every show a wild, hairy ride.
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum headlines. a 9 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $14, $12 in advance, 18+.