Cranky, clanky, lo-fi business from the Sic Alps member on his latest solo album.
Martin Longley 2011-06-21
The 23-year-old multi-instrumentalist Ty Segall is emerging as one of the most prolific artists on the San Francisco scene. Or should that be promiscuous, given the number of outfits he's dallied with, the best-known being Sic Alps? Lately, Segall has settled down into being his own virtual one-man band solo act. Once this Goodbye Bread album percolates onto the scene, he shall doubtless remain in that state.
Segall sings, drums and stings guitar, and it's emphatically the latter activity that's his strongest suit. His first solo release was made available as a cassette, and there are elements within this new recording that hint at such scrunched, distorted, level-reddening primitivism. Segall enjoys alternating solo albums with a spew of 7" singles, and his songs are frequently crafted as such, sticking around the three- or four-minute mark.
Already, he's up to his seventh LP, after barely three years as a solo being. At barely 34 minutes, Goodbye Bread is an old-school artefact, brief even in ancient vinyl terms. Segall pens songs that don't possess an ounce of excess blubber, with not a second wasted throughout these 10 compressed compositions. His ultimate saviours must surely be The Beatles, but the early Syd Barrett psychedelic-ised Pink Floyd are often clanging away in the background. Segall is particularly enamoured with the solo John Lennon sound, even adopting his trademark bounce-back echo-vocal style. The opening title-track's light shimmering steadily builds, with high vocals and tumbling-Ringo drum fills. At the two-minute mark, it happens for the first time: Segall injects one of his searing guitar solo vignettes, the first of what are invariably the peak moments of each song.
These sharply-targeted psychedelic guitar eruptions are well-contained, and always tantalisingly brief. Their acidic sound recalls the work of the great Barry Melton, of Country Joe and the Fish. Segall must surely have also been seduced by the garage clutter of Roky Erickson. The vocals are layered into a ramshackle choir formation, with Segall repeatedly crafting deliberately naïve couplets. Even so, any cranky, clanky business is well-meshed. Lurking underneath all of this is a steam-powered bass amp fulsomeness, emerging from rock's misted golden years. The numbers that move closest towards an original expression arrive at the climax, with The Floor and Where Your Head Goes, this last one's needle guitars jolting from speaker-to-speaker, ear-to-ear, and even planet-to-planet.