Ty Segall Band
[In the Red; 2012]
I’m beginning to think Thee Oh See’s John Dwyer must be some sort of mentor for his younger fellow San Francisco friend Ty Segall. Many of the choices Segall has made, both carreer-wise and aesthetically, have followed in Thee Oh Sees path. One obvious lesson learned from Dwyer is hard work. Thee Oh Sees have released five albums in the past three years. Segall has followed suit, releasing four albums in the past two years, with reports that another album may make its way to shelves still this year. As a result of this constant flow of new material, I’ve felt that some of these albums have been hit-and-miss affairs. “Goodbye Bread,” although fun at times, came off as a bit silly, a little sleepy, and slightly sloppy. This year’s collaboration with White Fence took on the same carefree approach, and although I enjoy its psychedelic folk experimentation, a few tracks seemed like left-overs dressed up as the main course.
John Dwyer’s work ethic has also hindered the quality of output on recent albums, but in 2011, his second release of the year, “Carrion Crawler / The Dream,” would be 10 straight tracks of garage psych rock that never disappoints. On the album, Dwyer relied more on his band mates, giving them space to breath and providing a more fully developed sound as a result.
Fortunately, the same approach can be seen in Ty Segall’s latest release “Slaughterhouse.” For this album he took on the new moniker of The Ty Segall Band, and it’s more than just a name change – it’s a change to his approach. Much in the same way Neil Young’s sound changed with Crazy Horse and Bob Dylan developed alongside The Band, Ty Segall’s addition of a full fledged band has helped bring back the boisterous, garage bedlam of his early work (specifically, his self-titled debut). On that album, Segall played all the instruments, recreating the street set-up that helped get him his start, with only a bass drum, a tambourine, and a reverb soaked guitar. Despite the new, full-blown band take, the chaos of the studio has helped lead Segall back to the distorted grandeur of his past that was somehow lost along the way.
I’d like to label the sound on “Slaughterhouse” as doom-garage-rock, but Segall has found a more suited description calling it a concept album of “evil, evil space rock.” The repetition of the word “evil” is no coincidence – he has ditched the fun little songs about buying a couch or going on the Atkins diet and finally lets lose a guttaral shout, letting lose the pent up energy much in the same way Frank Constanza once screamed “Serenity now!” Segall songs have always been fun, even when doused in distortion, but he’s deserted that ingredient for a much more sinister concoction of brooding basslines and intense, otherworldly guitar riffs. Even on a cover of Captain Beefheart’s formerly joyous “Diddy Wah Diddy” he doubles the pace, triples the distortion, and finishes the song screaming “Fuck this fucking song!”
“Diddy Wah Diddy”:
As imposing as the Ty Segall Band may be on “Slaughterhouse,” he still relies heavily on his bread and butter – contagious melodies (goodbye bread? I think not). Even when he screams until his voice cracks, he is still able to inject the mess of distortion with his reliable, old-fashioned, catchy chorus. He’s found a way to intertwine the disorder of the Stooges with the instant memorability of the early Beatles (“I Want To Hold Your Dog”?).
“Tell Me What’s Inside”:
I, like others, pegged Ty Segall as the next Jay Reatard after Jay died several years back. Segall’s early work suggested such, yet the past few albums have shown that he isn’t one to be pigeonholed. Not until “Slaughterhouse” has Segall’s uniqueness been quite as palpable. He may share the same penchant for melody, but after years of meandering in search of his musical home, Ty Segall has finally found the perfect abode – a tattered garage on the edge of town, where his madness and terror are finally allowed to be let lose.