Your University Challenge Starter for 10 question is: which band do Lionize sound like? They are signed to Clutch‘s record label, they are co-produced by Jean Paul Gaster, Clutch‘s drummer and they have a support slot on the forthcoming tour of, err, Clutch. Yes, no prize for not really having to guess at all but Maryland’s Lionize sound a bit like their US state neighbours, Clutch. Quite a big bit actually.
This is hardly a criticism though now is it? No, you’re right, it’s not and, as “Jetpack Soundtrack”, the fifth album from the band more than proves, Lionize make music that is both welcome and invigorating. Their melting pot mix of blues rock, spaced out psychedelia and dub rock surprises as much as its energises across a set of songs that whilst a little derivative in places still retains enough freshness and invention to have you coming back for more. In many ways, Lionize sound like a band that are genuinely in love with music and want to share that love with us, the listener- that’s an attitude and approach that I cannot but help warm to.
There’s an honesty to the endeavour of Lionize that particularly appeals- this is a band as much to say about what they think is wrong with this world- they variously tackle global warming, the power of the state and environmental concerns across the whole of the record but don’t get the idea that you are being preached at. Far from it. It’s a credit to the band that their candour sits so well with the upfront nature of their music that you don’t feel you’re at some political rally but you do take the opportunity to reflect on the issues that they raise which is surely the sign of an effective approach.
Musically, if you’re familiar with the blues rock of Clutch then you know, in the main, what you’re letting yourself in for but there’s also a whiff of soul emanating the grooves here and plenty of 70s style keyboard funk too which makes for a more rounded richer listening experience.
Lionize clearly love the craft of songwriting. There is a simplicity in the delivery of this music though which belies a deeper, more involved creative process at play. However, this process is often seamless and, occasionally, inspired. On closing track ‘Sea of Tranquility’ for example, we get treated to a lovely laid back bit of dub rock that reminds you of the band’s earliest recordings, their first loves and perhaps where they intend, at least in part, to take us next on their eclectic and idiosyncratic journey.
Lionize are never going to set the world on fire- they seem far to polite for that anyway- but the are singeing their own particular corner of the world very nicely, thank you.