Posts Tagged ‘Ty Segall’

Mikal Cronin – “Show Me”

This fall just keeps looking up and the announcement of a new Mikal Cronin album only solidifies the point. Employing members of The Freedom Band, Cronin’s got a new full length for Merge that thickens his bittersweet pop credentials even further. There’s a Tom Petty hangover in the pit of the stomach on “Show Me” turning those walking jangles into hooks that haunt. As has become his forte, Cronin’s all about the details, fleshing the track out with strings, keys, and layers of vocals. It’s a beautiful bit of melancholy baked in the California sun. Check the video and put that new record on your ‘need’ pile.

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Ty Segall

There’s always a fresh hit of Segall on the horizon and 2019 is no gap year. Skidding out of the last two heavy hitters – the acerbic ball of anxiety, Emotional Mugger, and the grandiose vision of Freedom’s Goblin – Ty’s turning inward for an album that’s got less boogie in its butt, less angst in its eyes, but no less experimental spirit than his last couple of outings. Musically Segall is plucking from several camps. There’s a freshly pumped in Eastern air, some sax teeth – not skronking quite as vicious as on Goblin – but still toasting the edges, and he’s littering the album with plenty of prog-minded excursions that twist sound into ragged towers. Lyrically, he’s looking for inspiration at home, in a more settled life, but that’s not always apparent when the guitars flare and the mutant cicadas set the pace.

It’s a bit telling that, in a recent Hidden Gems for the site, Ty cited Greek prog album 666 by Aphrodite’s Child as a recent favorite, admitting its shade had fallen on his more recent sessions. That album is nothing if not eclectic, finding its tone more in cumulative excess than cohesion and First Taste operates much in the same way. Every sonic scrap is at his disposal as long as it pushes the final result further from the bounds of this Earth. That’s not to say this is just a collection of chaotic experiments, there’s always that refreshing thread of pop running through Ty’s albums and its here in fine form.

The folk cool-down “I Sing Them” is up there with Segall’s great acoustic material, but twisted with a dissonance that doesn’t always creep into his sweeter songs. “Whatever” sounds like it could have met with the Emotional Muggers in a darkened alley, a slight vicious smile between its lips. “Radio” is a pop heater that won’t quit and “Ice Plant” plays with space and patience more than most of Segall’s fare, haunting in a way he rarely does. First Taste is the sound of Segall enjoying his freedom. Ascending to the heights of the indie scaffold is no easy task, but this doesn’t feel like an album for the masses, more for Segall himself. That his own winking indulgences also happen to be endlessly entertaining is just a bonus for the rest of us.

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CFM

On his second solo album as CFM, Charles Moothart distances himself further from his closest collaborators — shying from the glam-garage punch of Ty Segall and the more metallic slap of Meatbodies. CFM carries a lot of the same DNA, though, so its not entirely shod of the shadow of Segall and co. just yet, but Moothart comes into his own with some tender tugs at the heart and some psych burn that dabbles in shoegaze fizz. The album opens with a few burners, proving he’s got his own heat at the ready. “Black Cat” and “Sequence” tussle with hot tar licks, and “Street Vision” slows the choogle to a steady swagger, but its not until the wound opens for “Green Light” that the album shows what Moothart has at his disposal. The track’s fraught with menace and pain but also an open woundedness that’s not often seen in his particular pack, save for maybe Mikal Cronin.

He returns to the fray for a few more songs, and pulls it off with a more than serviceable acid burn, but he returns to the raw nerve on the album’s title track, “Soundtrack to an Empty Room,” which makes a double case for Moothart to dispense with the amplifier fry altogether and explore a full album of guarded bloodletters that aren’t at all interested in proving his weight in riff returns. Likewise the stately sway of “River” gives the second side a shove towards transcending his roots. There’s plenty to love for the buried needle brigade here, and I’m all for the fuzz, but there’s also an inkling of where Moothart might be headed. I’d say if he can go all in on the tender trappings, he might just have a stunner on his hands.



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Ty Segall on Aphrodite’s Child – 666

As long as Hidden Gems has been a series, I’ve had a few folks on the shortlist for contributions. Pretty close to the top has always hovered Ty Segall, long a fixture here at RSTB, but also an understandably busy acquisition for the feature. As Ty’s latest, First Taste, approaches next month he’s found some time to think on a rare gem of psychedelic proportions while also giving a bit of insight into how it may have helped shape his new album’s sound. While First Taste might not reach double-fold prog lengths like Freedom’s Goblin its still mining an off-kilter pop sensibility, rooted in psych touches and prog embellishments. This time around the entire record is boiled down to sharp, punchy track lengths, a quality that also informs the third LP from Aphrodite’s Child. The band, and its harrowing, biblical epic 666, served as one of the first outlets for synth master Vangelis, but it’s equally a showcase for sharp-toothed soothsayer Demis Roussos. Though the band’s album spanned four sides of vinyl, they shook prog conventions by keeping the tracks rather tight, spurning the instinct towards improvisation, but not the instinct towards delightful excess. Check out how this album came into Ty’s life and the impact it’s had on his work.

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Ty Segall – “Radio”

So, while I was away last week the music world didn’t stop turning, which leaves a few good bits by the wayside. I’m going to use today to catch up on the best of the bunch. Wouldn’t be a year on the books if Ty didn’t have at least one or two irons in the fire. He’s back with a new solo LP with the usual cast of garage gremlins behind him — “Radio” features Mikal Cronin weirding a bout of buzzing sax, Emmet Kelley and Charles Mootheart holding down the rhythm, and relative newcomer to the Segall Circus, Shannon Lay, chipping in some backup vox. This time around Ty’s cutting down the grandeur of last year’s Freedom’s Goblin, but that by no means equals austerity. The track’s got a bit of an Eastern buzz to it, hammering the guitars like sitars in the sun. Cronin’s sax lights a fire from the outset and the whole thing’s dipped in a layer of reflective paint that shines like some extra-dimensional sun. Sounding like another good one on our hands when First Taste lands August 2nd.



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Ty Segall & Freedom Band

The live album is a strange beast to master. As the dichotomy goes, they’re either proof that a band is a whole other animal in the room or they’re a runoff of company funds filling pockets of air between studio slabs. You’re either ponying up Live/Dead, Live at Budokon, or Last Waltz territory or hogging a heap of our precious time. The exception, perhaps being archival sets like Castle Face’s Live in SF series, but that’s more along the lines of a parting gift to those who were there and a tease to those who weren’t. Those are tantamount to official bootlegs and that’s a whole other discussion. Approaching a true live album takes a certain amount of bold confidence that the alchemy created in the room can crawl out of the speakers without necessitating the packed bodies, the magnetism of performers, and the glare of the lights. The notification that a beloved artist approaches the live album puts a lump in the throat, eh?

Then again, we’re not all casually calling up Steve Albini to run the tapes. We’re not all Ty Segall – long a live draw no matter what configuration has been hammering behind him. We don’t all have the Freedom Band at our beck and call, as heavy a crew as he’s had to tangle his tracks into fuzz-crusted chaos than ever before. Deforming Lobes is no schedule filler, it’s a testament to road-worn rock and the transformative power a room full of hungry hounds yowlin’ for Ty to turn his ecstatic catalog into a sonic assault. Its one of the rare instances that a live album warrants second and third listens.

What’s best said about the impact of the album is probably what he left out, rather than what he left in. For a man with a mile-long discography that hits a halt at his recently released nineteen-tracker, Freedom’s Goblin, the trackist is lean, scraping only eight tracks, with one of them a cover of the Groundhogs’ “Cherry Red.” With the opportunity to get indulgent, the band opts to cut their set down to a molten core, snagging tracks from only a handful of studio satchels and focusing in heavy on Emotional Mugger and Twins with each grabbing two tracks to represent. What they leave in they offer up as a volume-soaked proof of purchase, eight racks of unrepentant damage that leave a scorch mark on the turntable. I’ve seen Ty everywhere from a basement to packed 700-seater and this album hits like a shockwave to the sternum. It makes a good case for keeping the format around.



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Ty Segall & Freedom Band- Live Album

Anyone who’s been in the audience for Ty and co. know that its well worth the price of admission and the live entry to Castle Face’s series proved just that. Now the road-worn Freedom Band is getting a live document as well, recorded over the course of their latest tour for Freedom’s Goblin. The record was laid to tape by Steve Albini himself, which knocks this up from the usual soundboard dumpout fare. Producing a good live record is a hard target, and for every Live at Budokon there’s a throwaway cash grab on the burner for a mid-’70s major. This, however, does not appear to be a stop-gap, but a true dedication to the live record as perfect curio. The album takes a good swipe at some of Ty’s core catalog (though not necessarily the most obvious choices) and sprinkles in one of my personal favorite covers for an amp wrestle as well. At only eight tracks, though, this is a tight turnout for a band that just offered up a nineteen track studio burner. Check out the band’s take on Twins-era standout “Love Fuzz” and get prepped for the rest to hit on March 29th.


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RSTB Best of 2018

So, it seems that 2018 is finally coming to an end. It’s been a hell of a year by most standards, but musically its been damn entertaining. Perhaps its fair that there’s some bright spot in all the chaos. Not to diminish the chaos, but when the negativity is at an all-pervasive fever pitch, its feels good to have something to hold onto. I’ll choose to remember 2018 as a banner year for music and for the birth of my second daughter rather than the year that page refresh politics threatened to give me an ulcer any day. Below are my favorite albums of the year, taking care to highlight some that might otherwise get forgotten. They’re in (quasi) alphabetical order with no other particular weight on the list. Keep your eyes out for a few more year-end features this week before I reset for the new year. As always, thanks for sticking with RSTB for these 12-odd years or so.

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Ty Segall

Those of you in for the long haul on Ty know that the man loves a good cover, but more so than most California’s favorite son has always been an alchemist of the art form. Early seven inches often used the flip as a forum for Segall’s deep bench record shelf swoons – covering ground from Echo and The Bunnymen to Simply Saucer to The Groundhogs. Live sessions gave reason to scratch the psychotic itch with GG Allen cuts and then, of course, there’s a multi-year endeavor to cover as much ground on the T. Rex catalog as possible. What’s set Ty apart from your favorite ‘90s ska band pumping up the tempo on old Paul Simon cuts with a crass smile is that Ty’s got the perfect combination of taste and chops. He’s passionate about the source material, but not so precious as to deliver note by note recreations. On Fudge Sandwich he picks out a handful of faves deserving new life and gives them their own caustic twist through the lens of the fuzz kaleidoscope.

A multitude of singles comps have scooped up the best of the B’s in the past, but outside of those RSD Rex pressings this is the first time that Ty’s ripped into a fresh set of covers with the pure idea of breathing new life into old favorites. Its not a new idea, hell The Detroit Cobras made a damn good living out of this model for years. Still, Fudge Sandwich maintains vitality in a crowded medium, largely because in Ty’s hands any song can become newly exciting. As he does with Hot Chocolate’s “Everyone’s A Winner” from Freedom’s Goblin, Segall dirties up a fair number of his subjects – giving acid grit to War’s “Lowrider,” and injecting a fair amount of evil to John Lennon’s “Isolation.” He’s just as apt to strip things back, though, folking up The Dill’s “Class War” into a summer strummer that hits hard lyrically in 2018.

The rest of the set does its best to bring some standards to grind in the garage – fuzzing out Grateful Dead, Neil Young, The Spencer Davis Group and Sparks. He then sprinkles in some deeper cuts for the heads, hopefully opening up a few young guns to Amon Düül II, Gong and Rudimentary Peni in the same way he might have done for Simply Saucer and The Groundhogs before them. While the year already has its peak Ty release in the form of Goblin, this is a reminder that the man never sleeps and we all reap the benefits.



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GØGGS

While the reflex on any Ty Segall adjacent project is to focus on his contribution, in reality GØGGS runs rampant with Chris Shaw’s hand on the tiller. The Ex-Cult singer brings his panic-sweat intensity to the band’s sophomore album, knocking out eleven new visceral body blows that drape power metal in the cloak of ozone churning prog. Where their first album played with themes of experimentation, on Pre-Strike Sweep, they step much further into the darkness of their impulses. Ex-Cult always cut to the bone, with little time for atmosphere or instrumental acrobatics, so its good to see Shaw (alongside Segall, Charles Moothart and Michael Anderson) stretching out into the dust-choked cosmos, basking in the oven temps of salt flat freakouts and digging through the drainage of fuzz deluged swamps.

The band’s clearly been rifling through their heavy psych catalogs – Hawkwind, Sabbath and Captain Beyond waft through – though they’re not lingering long with the Lords of Light, instead churning the afterburner effects of space rock into a kind of sickness that’s infecting their arsenal of punishing riffs. They tend to more often lace up the heavy boots of Sabbath, but the boys replace Ozzie’s hash howl with enough cocaine to tweak him far beyond the Void. The thick cloud of ever-present rumble is punctuated by screaming leads on tracks like “Disappear” and “Morning Reaper.” The latter also contorting itself through a Pere Ubu possession of tinfoil twists before opening the lava gates of molten metal mania. The last album had its moments, but its clear that what’s come before was just a preamble to the sonic assault that’s formed here.

The assembled members have enough catalog between them to knock your luggage over the weight limit and then some, but the way they’ve found egalitarian ground between their respective takes on fuzz-huffing heaviness is key here. Moothart brings the bottom-end blowout of Fuzz, Shaw the wide-eyed intensity that’s his trademark, Anderson snags some of his atmospheric rinse from his days in CFM, and, yes, around it all Segall wraps his adaptive brain and engineer’s ear to bring this all together to an apocalyptic boil. For album number three, the band just need to pepper in their mercurial take on “Planet Caravan” and they’d be set to roll.




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