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Swaggering Aussie garage-psych crew plays Great American Music Hall

SAN FRANCISCO -- One of the seemingly endless number of offshoots from popular Australian psych band King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, swaggering psychedelic garage crew the Murlocs plays the Great American in San Francisco Sunday night.

The band is part of the prolific and shamelessly incestuous music scene that has emerged around the Melbourne-based King Gizzard over the past decade plus. Founded in the Australian city of Geelong in 2010 by singer/harmonica player Ambrose Kenny-Smith (both he and bassist Cook Craig are also members of KGATLW), the group also includes musicians who play in other established outfits such as stoner/prog trio ORB (guitarist Cal Shortal), jangly psych-pop groups Crepes (keyboardist Tim Karmouche) and Beans (drummer Matt Blach). Eschewing King Gizzard's broadly expansive and experimental approach, the Murlocs wrote more traditional tunes in a R&B-influenced, '60s garage-rock style that hearkened back to the sounds of the Stones, the 13th Floor Elevators and the Yardbirds on their first two EPs, largely thanks to Kenny-Smith's howling harmonica and distinctive vocal yowl.

The Murlocs - Bogan Grove by zonkvision on YouTube

The band's proper full-length debut Loopholes put out by King Gizzard-affiliated imprint Flightless Records in 2014 continued to refine their brand of eclectic, fuzzed-out retro rock. Though the Murlocs would frequently be put on hold due to King Gizzard's relentless recording and touring schedule, the group still managed to find time to write new material that ended up on their sophomore effort Young Blindness two years later. That album featured the hit tune "Rolling On" which broke the band to wider audiences. It also led them to playing dates with touring acts visiting Australia including Gary Clark, Jr., Mac DeMarco, Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, the Pixies and Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks.

The Murlocs - Rolling On (Video) by Flightless Records on YouTube

The band saw increased commercial success on its subsequent releases, with its next three efforts making the top 20 on the Australian album charts with last year's Bittersweet Demons hitting number 6 with its greater focus on pop-minded melodies and piano-driven tunes. The band's latest effort, the celebrated Rapscallion which just came out in September, has been described by Kenny-Smith as a raucous novella in album form delving into the sometimes chaotic and dangerous exploits of his youth.

The Murlocs - Bellarine Ballerina (Official Video) by The Murlocs on YouTube

The Murlocs will be joined at the Great American Music Hall Sunday by LA-based songwriter, member of Ty Segall's Freedom Band and punk group Feels, Shannon Lay. She released her debut album for Sub Pop entitled August in 2019. Recorded with Segall at his home studio, the spare, shimmering collection of original songs recalls the heartbreaking fragility of Nick Drake and Elliot Smith and includes a gorgeous cover of folk singer Karen Dalton's version of the Dino Valenti track "Something on Your Mind." A year ago, she issued her celebrated follow-up effort Geist that included collaborations with Segall and bassist Devin Hoff.

The Murlocs with Shannon Lay
Sunday, Nov. 28, 8 p.m. $18-$20
Great American Music Hall

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