Ty Segall’s Banner Year

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The only opportunity so far I’ve had to see Ty Segall live was at The Jackpot Saloon, right here in good ol’ Lawrence, Kansas. This was a few years ago, right around when Melted came out. I had heard Segall’s first two proper records, Ty Segall and Lemons, so I had an idea of what to expect. What I didn’t expect was exactly how unhinged he would be, how utterly sincere and real he was about his squalls and rabid garage-rock. Segall, with a small backing band and relatively few instruments, led a crushing march through the best of his songs—even to the point where drums broke, strings snapped, and Segall just kept going, feeding off of his own noise.

Since then Segall has released numerous LP and EPs; some like last year’s Goodbye Bread and this year’s collaboration with White Fence, Hair, cleaned-up the production a bit, leaning more to a T.Rex-like swagger. And just when you thought Segall was streamlining things a bit, came his second record of 2012, Slaughterhouse, which recaptures Segall’s manic energy with a profound focus on unabated abrasion. I could easily see him crashing through the drums during the making of this record just as he did when he played at the Jackpot.

Although Slaughterhouse is a noisy, fuzzy record worthy of its menacing title, it still retains Segall’s sense of harmony and melody, shown especially on shit-kickers like “Tell Me What’s Inside Your Heart” easily one the best songs I’ve heard in the ten or so years I’ve been old enough to care about music. The ground that Segall and his band cover on Slaughterhouse is surprisingly varied—the serating noise of “Death,” the gnarly “Wave Goodbye,” the pop-infected “The Tongue,” which recalls some of the streamlining on Goodbye Bread. For an album that features two covers and one remake, Slaughterhouse is a startling “debut” (his first with Ty Segall Band) and presents one of the many directions Segall can and does go.  Like fellow prolific San Fransicans Thee Oh Sees, Segall operates in a genre that is immediately familiar, yet he completely owns his songs, with a distinct “grammar” of riffing and rhythm.

So much has been made of how prolific the guy is, between his solo albums proper, his debut with Ty Segall Band, his stints with a half-dozen or so other bands like Sic Alps, and the sheer volume of his output—as with Thee Oh Sees, its the one thing people are sure to mention in a review of his work. But Segall displays a incredible passion for what he does, even if his persona is somewhat of that of lackisddaisocal California Kid. And remember the guy is only fucking 26 years old.

But when Segall mentioned that he had three albums coming out this year, he certainly set himself up for derision and ridicule. While there are outliers that release gigs of music quarterly, given the precedent for quality that Segall quickly established for himself—notice the monumental improvements between Ty Segall and Goodbye Bread, and Ty Segall is a fine record in its own right—three great albums in less than a year’s span seemed like a young man’s garage-rock pipe dream. Surely one of these albums would be chud, filler, a misfire, a mediocre bag of songs. But amazingly Segall pulled it all off, probably because he doesn’t really consider what quality and good means–he just keeps going because he is unable to stop. While Twins, the third record he released this year, lacks the immediate pull of Hair or Slaughterhouse, it is still vintage Segall, cleaving closer to the jams of Goodbye Bread, but nonetheless full of vigor and vitality.

While there may be antecendents for his quick rise to acclaim based on a indefatigauble schedule recording and exhausting touring, in today’s modern music world Segall seems simultatenously anachronistic and forward thinking. His music reaches backward yet his youth and pure talent push his relevance. His prolific output dares us to keep up with him, and likewise keeps his name a part of the discussion.

What this demonstrates is that Segall is somebody who thinks, breathes, eats, and shits music. And it’s not just the volume of this releases that are indicative of this—its the man’s narrow evolution toward an indie rock icon. Each release is a chance to do it all over all again, but better, more different, and weirder. His three big releases this year only confirm his cock-eyed talent.  His kind of fuck-all attitude has seen him quickly ascend from one of the lieutanents of the garage-rock revival started in the early 2000s to the movement’s grand marshall.

Below check out Ty Segall go fuck-wild on Letterman

–CD

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