Sunday, January 28, 2018

Ty Segall’s "Freedom’s Goblin" — A Heavy Homage Pie That Might Leave You Hungry For It’s Core Ingredients

Indie rocker, post punk /punker, garden rocker, art rocker er, um, amazing musical shape shifter Ty Segall has been putting out material since around 2007 as himself or as part or parcel of several other bands or incarnations (Epsilons, Fuzz, Goggs, Party Fowl, The Perverts, Sic Alps, The Traditional Fools just to name a few…whew!) and has put out such a stunning amount of work that it is almost mandatory to write the word “prolific” in any piece about him. While I knew about Ty and heard his music early on I would say that I didn’t get deeply into him until 2010’s infectious Melted album. The first time I saw him play live was in 2011 at the Echoplex in L.A. while writing for L.A. Record. I remember the show also featured Tijuana Panthers and Monotonix (from Israel) but Ty was the one who blew me away. Afterward I met him and his then girlfriend and bass player Denée. Cool people. A year later I believe I was the first person (and blogger) who shot and published a video of Ty and Charles Moothart’s side project FUZZ as they played a surprise set at the SMELL in L.A.
Through the years Ty has never ceased to impress in studio as well as live having shot him and his incarnations for my blog (American Pancake) countless times at multiple Burgerama shows, FYF fests and more. Of all the artists who have come out of San Francisco and Burgerama-esque circles he has been a constant force of nature who always kills it. Everyone with musical cred and import, the KEXP’s and NPR’s of the musicsphere are enamored with not only his music and work ethic but the purity of his artistic visions. And for good reason, while he may play a scoundrel and maybe even a slobbering pervert ie Emotional Mugger as an incarnation, Ty Segall is not one to lose control and kick a photographer in the face. He is adept at his art and adept at being charming too.
Since Girlfriend off of Melted made my jaw drop to the floor with it’s Thee Oh Sees feral-osity, Ty has put out 10 albums (if you include the White Fence collab Hair and Mikal Cronin collab Reverse Shark Attack), performed killer performances on Conan and those exquisitely amazing KEXP performances AND married his girlfriend Denée. During this time his vocal performance has become less distorted and way more British sounding and his musical prowess has become sharper. This grinding trajectory has lead him to a stunning and audacious double album.
Freedom’s Goblin contains 19 songs that gleefully mine iconic classic rock flavors in big and subtle ways (but mostly big). The super fun first track Fanny Dog (an ode to Ty’s dog) is joyous and edgy mining Beatle-esque guitar lines ala Abbey Road. The sinfully cool proto punk meets disco Despoiler of Cadaverfeels like a song the Talking Heads / Tom Tom Club never wrote. The scissor sharp downbeats of And Goodnight literally conjuers images of Neil Young and Crazy Horse jamming inches from your face. The Brit rock 60’s lilt of Cry, Cry, Cry has you tapping your Beatle boot toes and My Lady’s On Fire is sprinkled with T-Rex glitter. Talkin 3 feels exactly like the neurotic jazz punk hearted wrung out chaos of James Chance and the Contortions. 5ft Tall posseses the musical D.N.A and prog chops of a cadre of The Who songs.
I could go on and these similarities do not sound or feel like rip offs (for the most part) but loving homages but because these songs bathed in these iconic styles are packed tight back to back the total effect can feel a little bit like iconic rock muzak or like original songs made to sound like famous songs by famous bands in a made for TV move about so and such fictional bands as a front for the real thing. Do you know what I mean?? I know that was confusing.
In the end, each of these individual stunning creations plays better apart from the rest then together as a collection of songs. I have a long history with Ty Segall. I respect him so much. Freedom’s Goblin is by any measure a stunning piece of work, a great double album. Is it a mile stone for Ty, his masterwork? In my opinion probably not but that will come again as it has in the past. For an album to be brilliant it begs to be heard multiple times after the first listen. This, for me, was the case with 2010’s Melted, 2011’s Goodbye Bread, 2012’s Twins, 2014’s Manipulator and 2016’s Emotional Mugger just to name a few. After hearing Freedom’s Goblin and loving it, my immediate reaction was to pull out my music collection (both digitally and on vinyl) to satiate my need for Neil Young and Crazy Horse, selected T-Rex cuts, The Who By Numbers album and “They Came In Through The Bathroom Window” by John, Paul, George and Ringo.
— Robb Donker