Sunday, December 9, 2012

Ty Segall Really Rocked 2012, Didn't He?

With 3 albums out in 2012, Ty Segall seemed like a machine of retro rockin' this year, didn't he?

Cherry-picking the coolest bits from those Nuggets bands from the garage rock era, and adding in a bit of modern indie rock moxy, Ty Segall didn't waste a lick, a riff, or a hook in 2012. The guy is prolific and he aimed to please this year.

That's a happily dangerous combination.

Hair, from Ty Segall and White Fence, came first in 2012. From the Strawberry Alarm Clock-organ swirl of "I Am Not A Game" to the Soundgarden-in-the-1960s-vibe of opener "Time", the album kicked off in fine fashion. Retro but forward-looking, Time was a decidedly listenable record.

"Easy Ryder" coasts in on a strong melody line. The tracks echoes the Beatles and the Stones and about a dozen bands that tried to copy those guys. The highlight of the record for me was the Blue Cheer-shredding "Scissor People".

Aping that era perfectly, Hair was somehow original even if it sounded like all the bits came from other songs.

Here, White Fence's Tim Presley and Ty Segall seemed to pull a Robert Pollard and mix a truckload of bits from rock history to come up with something fresh.

On Slaughterhouse, Ty Segall and his band open up the throttle. Pedals are kicked, that wah-wah is employed, and the guitar fuzz scorches the speakers.

The nearly My Bloody Valentine-like fuzz of "The Tongue" is a particular high point of the record. It owes a huge debt to the noise fetishists of the shoegaze era but it owes an equally huge debt to the late Sixties acid rock pioneers. Somehow Ty Segall and his cronies have crunched those disparate influences together into a cool mess of sound.

On tracks like "Muscle Man", it's as if the band are leaving melody behind. The riffs take over and things nearly go off the rails.

"Diddy Wah Diddy" roars by so quickly that I'm still not quite sure if this is a cover or if Ty's simply recycling that familiar title.

The 10-minute "Fuzz War" is an assault on form. It's a sort of masterpiece of riffage. Somewhere Loop is taking notes for a comeback. It's Spacemen 3 on a bad trip.

Slaughterhouse is a remarkably fun record. It's heavy and loud and exactly the sort of kick in the ass that American indie rock needs right now.

By the time Twins dropped, Ty Segall seemed to have refined his sound a bit. The rough edges are still there -- "Thank God For The Sinners" sounds like something from a Roger Corman biker flick -- but the record is more coherent somehow.

If "The Hill" uses smooth vocals, it's only a trick. The song is still a merciless rocker. "You're The Doctor" is a gnarly ride through familiar territory.

Still, there's something beautiful inside the squall of "Ghost". The vocals ape Lennon but the music is pure Stooges rage, pulled out and stretched into something slightly less sinister.

"They Told Me Too" is early Loop in a bite-sized lump.

Closer "There Is No Tomorrow" recalls early Super Furry Animals. But with more fuzz-tone guitar.

Ty Segall is the gift that keeps on giving. The guy doesn't disappoint, does he?

Somehow, he's one of those artists who wears his influences on his sleeves and yet puts some twist on those influences in the pursuit of producing something exciting and new.

In 2012, he produced 3 rockin' albums and, if measured in terms of pure listening pleasure, 3 of the best.

Hair from Ty Segall and White Fence came out on Drag City.

Slaughterhouse from Ty Segall Band came out on In The Red Records.

And Twins came out on Drag City.

Follow Ty Segall on his Drag City page.