Critiques in the media about the rising millennial generation hones in on a fabricated laziness, while, paradoxically, critiques of young amp-melter Ty Segall pluck mostly at vaulting ambitions. If he put out less than three records a year, apparently he’d be more successful. The releases wouldn’t blend together and we could process them each better. Between releasing musty collaborations with White Fence and his sunburn-squalled solo records, the man, they say, simply has too many ideas.
Although most music fans don’t line up outside the record store anymore to get their hands on a new LP, there’s still something to be said for waiting in agony for a record, maybe for years. But, when the ideas unfurl faster than you can stop them — and in such an infatuatingly infectious way — is that necessarily a bad thing? Sure, Segall’s vision isn’t one of long-brewed clarity. The music itself is sloppy and scuffed up, bleeds at the seams, and squeals often. But, it moves you in your own way, whether it’s in your head, the sleight of a hip, or a skull-splitting stagedive.
With his new sludge metal band, Fuzz, Segall delivers on that promise through the art of the headbang. Fuzz unsubtly celebrates the days of early metal yore, particularly in the spirit of fellow San Franciscan psychedelic freewheelers Blue Cheer and the assailing rhythms of Black Sabbath. The band’s self-titled record (released on Trouble In Mind) showcases Segall’s falsetto stylings over a stoner metal symphony, the prolific one taking on a different role, as the group’s drummer. Segall’s half-shriek swirls have become so distinctive that a label can put out a nameless 7″ and you’d immediately know it belongs to no other man.
For Fuzz, Segall is joined by two old friends and co-conspirators — Charles Moothart, who wields an electric guitar like a battle axe meant to arm rock and roll warriors, and Roland Cosio, who holds a predatory grip on bass. Segall dominates with a stance that likens him to a giant when perched behind a drum kit. Even in full command, he can’t wipe the goofy grin off his face and launches into sweaty crowds, dismantling a mosh pit into a dogpile.
Sonically, Fuzz sprawls out far and wide, meshing psychedelic expanses with chugging guitar hooks, shitkicking bass lines, and post-apocalyptic drums, prolonged and slow. At their peak, the band exhales roaring feedback and ample fuzz (that word is unavoidable, after all), as on the seething “Preacher”. At times, like opener “Earthen Gate”, their solos gravitate too far away from a solid center.
Thematically, the record expels black magic, at once dabbling in mysticism and questions of this earth. The band is thinking in multitudes; “What’s in my head?” Segall squeals in the Sabbath-charred song of the same name. Similarly, the bellowing cries in “R A I S E” call on the listener to “watch the world as it dies.” The band knows the answer is out there, but until they find them, they’re throwing the big-picture questions out for examination in the middle of a series of demonic riffs and wails.
Totaling just eight tracks, Fuzz is a rich, albeit hurried listen. You’re left wanting an expansion of the complexities sought out in the throttling “Hazemaze”, where Segall yelps for someone to “tell me the secrets of your mind.” The instrumental “One” meanders a bit, but as the album’s heaviest track, it ends the record with an unparalleled potential to flail and wail.
Segall hasn’t made a more radioactive rock record in years, not even with last year’s meaty Slaughterhouse released with the Ty Segall Band. Often, in the canon of garage rock, sheepish boy guitar geniuses beckon to alien shes and croon their woes while stuck in cavernous minds. That’s not Segall. As a solo artist, his own work has oscillated from the cotton candy saccharine Goodbye Bread to the sunburned Sleeper. On Fuzz, the questions are decidedly more open and the riffs apocalyptic. Following their fluid debut, Fuzz can only grow further, into the doom-laced trio of early metal titans they were born to be.
Essential Tracks: “Sleigh Ride”, “Preacher”, and “R A I S E”