Posted by Jesse Shayne
Is Ty Segall the songbird of our generation? Think about it. The man is 26 years old and has already released eight solo albums, been a part of multiple collaborative efforts with some of the current kings of garage rock (Thee oh Seehs, White Fence, etc.) and has helped renew and redefine a genre that seemed worn-out thirty years ago. Combining punk, psychedelic, noise and glam rock, as well as heavy metal and classic rock, Segall and his fellow contemporary garage rockers have created a new hybrid form of music that pays homage to numerous great bands but introduces a degree of originality that distinguishes it as its own pronounced revivalist movement. With the release of his most recent effort (no I'm not talking about his eighth solo album, Sleeper, which came out in August), the debut self-titled album of a three-piece Black Sabbath-tribute under the moniker Fuzz, Segall has made it clear to anyone skeptical of his ability to diversify: the man can do it all.
Now, some people may be unaware who Ty Segall is (but let's be real, this is Skidmore, at least 50% of students on this campus have probably heard of him). While Segall has yet to break free from the realm of indie blogs and publications, he is a god amongst the Pitchfork-reading syndicate and his music had been featured on NPR and other highly reputable (and tasteful) musical outlets. I wouldn't be surprised if we have another Bon Iver/Grammy-esque situation on our hands in a couple of years, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
Segall's rise to prominence began in 2008 when he started his solo career after playing with a number of underground bands in the Bay area. His first solo album was released on cassette that same year by Wizard Mountain, a tiny San Francisco-based record label. Upon the release of his fourth solo album, Segall signed with Drag City, the Chicago-based label responsible for discovering Pavement and Joanna Newsom.
Despite glowing reviews, after Segall's first couple of releases concerns were raised that his sound was one-dimensional--blaringly reverbal guitar solos, accompanied by muffled bass and crazy drum fills--the typical garage sound that dates back to the Beatles' edgier days. Segall's next few releases turned out to be more multi-dimensional with some slower songs and less guitar-driven structures. But if one thing was made clear by Sleeper, a quieted-down acoustic album in homage to Segall's deceased father, it was that Segall has a whole repertoire of sounds floating around in his bleach-blond Californian head. And now, with the release of Fuzz's debut effort (Segall's third album this year, and sixth in the last two years) all doubts are out. The man is a musical genius.
Holed up in his San Francisco bungalow, Segall spends his days surfing and writing songs. Literally. He apparently writes a song everyday, even when he's touring, which he basically has been doing nonstop for the past three years despite releasing nine albums and multiple EP's during that time. He's a multli-instrumentalist, and while he could just continue to record solo, his collaborative efforts have led to some of the most insane riffs, lyrics and vibes of the past few years. Mikal Cronin, Jon Dwyer, (frontman of Thee oh Seehs) and Tim Presley (of White Fence) are all close friends and have collaborated with Segall, who's always down to switch things up. In the past year-and-a-half alone Segall has released four collaborative albums: Hair (Ty Segall & and White Fence), Slaughterhouse (The Ty Segall Band), The Traditional Fools LP (a reissue of an old album with friend and Ty Segall Band member, Mikal Cronin), and now Fuzz.
Segall plays drums while singing in Fuzz, making it clear that he doesn't always have to take center-stage while simultaneously stealing the spotlight with monster fills and angry lyrics. The album starts out slowly with a two-minute intro on the first track, "Earthen Gate," but things pick up almost immediately as Charles Moothart (a member of the Ty Segall Band) quickly starts belting out a guitar riff that Ozzy would have been proud of. Roland Cosio (life-long pal of Segall and a member of a couple of Segall's old bands) keeps things in line on the low end, matching Moothart's and Segall's energy. The album is essentially lo-fi garage meets stadium rock--Slaughterhouse on steroids.
It's hard to tell where Segall will go from here. A move to a major label? A switch to a more traditional studio sound? Whatever he does, you should pay attention. After all, given everything he has accomplished by age 26 you never know where he will be in ten years.