Saturday, August 31, 2013

Ty Segall Drops Stripped-Down Album: My Quick Review of Sleeper

It's no joke that Ty Segall is owning that kit and axe in that pic. No joke at all that he looks so confident 'cause on the new Sleeper (just dropped on Drag City), he's playing everything 'cept the violin and viola.

It's a pullback of all the noise on his other releases. Compared to the 3 records I reviewed recently, Sleeper is a more modest, though no less ferocious, affair.

One listen to the title track and -- like many other rock critics out there -- my mind goes back to T.Rex. It's inescapable. The chords and vocals, as well as the hard acoustic sound of the axe, make me think of Bolan and hsi crew. It's a jam and a half, really.

"The Keepers" brings the blues into the picture while "She Don't Care" pulls out Bowie...and a hint of Love and Rockets, I think.

At first listen, Sleeper has more of the feel of a White Stripes record in spots. The blues-y bits loom large, let's face it. However, on the next listen I started to hear the audio nods in the direction of English eccentrics like Barrett and even Jimmy Page -- play "Crazy" and dig that mix of Led Zeppelin III and that Crazy Diamond himself, Syd Barrett.

"The West" and a few other tracks on Sleeper lean hard on that American blues tradition. Still, album closer "Queen Lullabye" ups the trippy and makes music that I don't quite know how to categorize. And maybe I shouldn't even try. A really glorious piece of whimsy with a surprising depth, this is the highlight of the record for me. It's a long way from the freakouts of those other Ty records but maybe not. Maybe this is the base for that stuff. Maybe Ty is breaking things down here to the essential pieces. Maybe given more time he'd have layered guitars over this?

Who knows? As it's supposedly going to be Ty Segall's only release in 2013, let's dig it now and crank it up. Grab Sleeper at your favorite retailer either online or in the real world and follow Ty Segall on his Facebook page here.