Photo by Denee Petracek
Catharsis plays a big part in Ty Segall’s music. Whether it’s live or on record, the young guitarist always sounds on the verge of exploding into a thousand pieces. And there’s a lot of room for that catharsis, thanks to Segall’s prolific nature. As a part of San Francisco’s new psychedelic vanguard–which includes artists like Thee Oh Sees, White Fences, and Segall–there’s a certain “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality. Each year brings an avalanche of albums, EPs, and one-off singles with the Bay Area’s particular stamp. 2012 saw three full-length albums from Segall, rounding out his total to around a dozen (it’s hard to keep track at this point). And earlier this year, he announced his new band Fuzz, with a debut record out in a few months. With a name like that, you can bet Fuzz’s LP will be overstuffed with squalling psych-rock.
Amidst this distorted hyperactivity, though, real life pushed its way into Segall’s world. Last year, he lost his father to cancer and subsequently fell out with his mother; the two aren’t even on speaking terms. Segall decided to channel his emotions into what he does best: making music. This time, though, he opted for an acoustic guitar and just rolled tape, coming up with lyrics on the spot as he felt his way through the melodies.
The result is Sleeper, a dreamy collection of ballads that are seared with Segall’s psychedelic touch. Over the course of ten songs, he opens his heart with words and his rough-hewn voice instead of guitar solos. The songs’ characters come and go like ghosts, and Segall seems to be channeling another ghost: Marc Bolan of T. Rex, who could still get surprisingly weird with just an acoustic guitar. Album centerpiece “The Man Man” is one of the more striking songs in Segall’s lengthy discography. It swaggers and grooves, but with a hint of darkness underneath. Segall proves–over and over–that quantity and quality can go hand-in-hand.
You can catch Ty Segall at the Mohawk on August 27 at 7:30 PM.