The Murlocs

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The Murlocs are a garage rock combo who play with a straightforward swagger, but show an eager willingness to mix up styles and influences. Made up of members of King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard and ORB among others, the band started off making stripped down rock & roll on their 2014 debut Loopholes; future albums found them stretching the limits of the garage, adding production polish on 2017′s Old Locomotive and by the time of 2021′s Bittersweet Demons crafting a piano-led set of melancholy and introspective rockers. Their ability to mix and match genres while staying true to their core remained firmly in place on 2022′s Rapscallion, which found them successfully grafting on heavy metal and post-punk influences.
The band were formed in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia in 2010 at the same time as King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard. Vocalist and harmonica player Ambrose Kenny-Smith was a key part of both bands. Joining him in the initial lineup were Callum Shortal (from the Australian band ORB) on lead guitar, Jamie Harmer on rhythm guitar, Andrew Crossley on bass, and Matt Blach (who also has his own project, Beans) on drums. They started out as a cover band, favoring the songs of Ray Charles and Creedence Clearwater Revival, but it wasn’t long before they began writing and performing their own material. After making inroads as a live act, the band cut a self-titled and self-released five-song EP in 2012 recorded in a makeshift eight-track studio. Another EP, Teepee, followed later the same year. The Murlocs struck a deal with the Melbourne-based indie Flightless Records, and the group’s first full-length, Loopholes, was issued in 2014. By the time the album was recorded, Andrew Crossley had left the lineup, and Cook Craig, who like Kenny-Smith was also a member of King Gizzard, took over on bass. In 2015, King Gizzard launched a touring festival called Grizzfest, and the Murlocs were invited to join them on the road. After completing the tour, the group got to work on their second album. 2016′s Young Blindness featured another change in the personnel; rhythm guitarist Jamie Harmer was out and Mladen Milinkovic was in. It also included “Rolling On,” which became a minor hit single and opened the band’s work to a new audience.
2017′s Old Locomotive built on the success of Young Blindness; it featured two more successful singles, “Oblivion” and “Noble Soldier,” and was their first album to chart in Australia, rising to number 15 at home. By the time it was released, Mladen Milinkovic was no longer a member of the group, and new member Tim Karmouche (who also worked with the group Crepes) divided his time between guitar and keyboards. In support of Old Locomotive, the Murlocs toured Europe for the first time. In 2019, they presented their fourth album, the relatively polished Manic Candid Episode, which was also a chart success in Australia, topping out at number 16. That same year, the group traveled to North America for their first live dates in the United States, thanks to ATO Records striking a deal to release the album Stateside. While the Murlocs were promoting Manic Candid Episode on the road, Kenny-Smith was knocked for a loop by the unexpected death of a close friend, Keegan Walker. He was still dealing with his feelings as the group wrote songs for the group’s next recording project, and 2021′s Bittersweet Demons is contemplative and thoughtful in a way earlier albums hadn’t been. Another departure was composing most of the songs on piano. Despite these changes, the group were able to retain all the rock & roll energy of previous recordings. 2022′s Rapscallion deleted nearly all the subtle introspection of Bittersweet Demons, turning the amps (and energy level) back up while adding stoner metal heaviness and post-punk angularity to their sound. ~ Mark Deming & Tim Sendra