Lecherous Gaze are a fun band (you kinda have to be with that name). Their prior efforts, On the Skids and Zeta Reticuli Blues, are ideal albums to toss on when you just don’t give a shit and need to kick out some jams. Chock-full of raunchy riffage, white-hot leads, and boogie-inducing rhythms, these guys are proven masters of dumb punk rock fun – no thinking required. Lecherous Gaze feel like neighbors to the shreddin’ let loose vibes of Valient Thorr, but there’s a stronger pull to orbit Detroit-area punk pioneers like The Stooges and MC5. They fill the same void that a lot of (read: too many) people use for classic rock radio – it’s good to blast while you’re working on your car, installing a new garbage disposal, or playing cards in a hazy basement with some buds. Let’s be real, you’re not going to have an epiphany about life with this stuff, but you’ll certainly have a damn good time.
The ‘Gaze’s latest record, One Fifteen, is more of the same, but there’s a certain sophistication and tastefulness this time around, like drinking a PBR from the hole on the top of the can instead of the one you punch in the bottom. Right off the bat, the title track opener makes no attempt to hide that their untamed and upbeat powerhouse sound has been annexed by more than a little spacey surf rock. It’s a perfect adjunct to their sound, making room for enhanced dynamics and a more varied experience from start to finish as opposed to the balls-to-the-wall rock fury we’ve become accustomed to. By the same token, it ties in with the sci-fi theme of the lyrics and Frank Frazetta album art. Tracks like “Thing Within” and “Blind Swordsman” have a unique foot-off-the-gas feel, pushing frontman Zaryan Zaidi into unfamiliar (and more emotive) areas, but finding success. His gruff, smoky, and croaky howl works surprisingly well during these times, leading to some of the album’s more interesting moments.
That being said, they still manage to get plenty greasy and wild when need be. “The Day the Earth Caught Fire” feels like a nitro-boosted version of The Men’s “Turn It Around”, with sunny and bright guitars dancing atop a satisfyingly thumpy and punchy rhythm section. It’s apparent Chris Grande (bass) and Noel Sullivan (drums) know their way around a gnarly groove as much as they can drive a beat. Graham Clise (Annihilation Time, Witch) and Zach Dellorto-Blackwell get as bananas as ever, breaking loose with some of the band’s best guitar work to date, tastefully tagging with savvy licks and feral solos wherever possible. Clise puts his chops on display without sacrificing listenability; it’s the kind of playing that’ll make your guitar nerd uncle lose his shit (get a load of “X City”). With One Fifteen, Lecherous Gaze fine-tune their fret-smashing party punk into something slightly less raucous, but hash out their most complete and chuggable record yet, and certainly one of the year’s best.
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One Fifteen is out February 10 via TeePee Records. Billy Gibbons says they’re “heavy,” so you best get yourself a copy from here to avoid any back problems later in life.