HAIR by Ty Segall and White Fence. Released in 2012. For a frame of reference: Ty and White Fence both are familiar names in the garage rock revival. Puke. I called it that, because it’s seven years later and that whole ‘prolific’ solo movement is a real thing, even though we knew it was at the time.
I remember thinking of it like this: White Fence was the more psychedelic of the two – a little rougher around the edges. But Ty, with a growing reference to not just the 1960s, knew how to make things weird, too. And they both adored the faux British accent. Put them together and this album is the dream album for a young person learning how to play rock ‘n roll. This album ranges from shorter back to the basics Easy Ryder/Crybaby punk to all out adventures of jamming out brilliance. How these guys were able to pull this one off? I – to this day – pretend that it’s Ty Segall & White Fence & G. Gordon Gritty. It’s easy. I pick up any instrument and play along to this album. I appreciate it more by being an honorary member. I’d like to think that this wasn’t really that much of a thought-out effort on the part of Ty & White Fence. But that’s what I would like to think. I don’t care. There are just so many different tones, leads, notes, effects, noises. It’s an album that makes fun of bands that try too hard just as much as it makes fun of slacker bands. Without a doubt one of the most influential records on my playing and recording.
Ty and White Fence are coming to The Sinclair in Boston on Thursday and I am super excited to see them work through some stuff that I’ve become pretty obsessed with over the years. HAIR holds up. Ya it does.
1. The Barbaras – 2006-2008 – The Barbaras exist in my music collection as a very revered band. I had been playing their fuzzy, sunshiny 7″ since October 2010. They were gone, of course, by then, off doing things like being in Magic Kids and Wavves. Then the news of this came along. About two years later I was able to hear some clearer renditions of tracks from that 7″ and even better…twelve new songs. The new ones (and the old ones) simply put are some of my favorite tracks ever. I can’t really even delve into specific favorites, because they all such hard hitters. Some are kind of wimpy (“Bluebirds”, “Only One”), while others (“Devour the Jungle Deer,” “Grief Touches Everyone”) are barn-burners from 0:00 ’til the last note. The Barbaras nailed the ‘pop’ part of garage pop in a way that is truly unlike any of the bands the Barbaras would eventually join. These are songs you listen to daily, that capture your attention from the very second they begin. There was something real special about this group from Memphis. They paid as much of a debt to their contemporaries like producer Jay Reatard while maintaining a keen appreciation for both the obscure and popular golden melodies of the ’50s and ’60s. I haven’t heard a modern band perfectly nail that down like the Barbaras. This is a record that I doubt will reach #1 status beyond us… the fanatics that run this website. That’s a shame, though, because a complete and thoughtful listen (yes, just one) makes a grand impact.
2. Ty Segall/White Fence – Hair – This is another record that I’m as excited to talk about now as I was when I first heard it many months ago. I think those early listening sessions included a good amount of bewilderment. Ty Segall and White Fence. One record. Two fantastic garage/psych songwriters coming together. I didn’t know much about White Fence back then and frankly I still do not really. Tim Presley can jam. Hair isn’t really a traditional “record” because – yes – it is brief (8 songs) and the songs range from extremely well done jams (“I Am Not A Game”, “Scissor People”) to the more straightforward (“Easy Ryder,” “Crybaby”)…thanks Ty! I remember hearing “Scissor People” maybe the second or third time and really starting to “get” it. The riffs. The shuffling of sounds. Damn, I thought. Rumors have it that there will be more from the Ty Segall/White Fence collaboration. That’s awesome, because they got it right the first time.
3. Black Lips – Live @ Third Man – Black Lips do many things well. Their entire discography is filled to the brim with killer track after killer track, killer album after killer album, killer single after killer single. Yeah, they are the best band. Them doing a follow-up live record after the outrageously special Los Valientes Del Mundo Nuevo might only seem natural given their talent in front of crowds. Of course, this is a fantastic record. This one was without question recorded at Third Man (ya, you know what I’m talking about) and the dudes have the stage banter to prove it. They mix the real old with the real new and throw in some material from in between. While this doesn’t flow as nicely as Los, it sure as hell proves why Black Lips have had IT for more than a decade. Keep it simple stupid and let the rock and roll do the talking. Listening to “Fad” and “Modern Art” in the same set is something that I had long wanted (and luckily got to experience), but now with this LP – that can happen any time. Good stuff. Thanks Black Lips.
4. Ty Segall – Twins – Surprise, surprise! Twins is crazy good. Ty’s been on a tear since Melted, at least in the sense that people from semi-mainstream media outlets are in on the awesomeness as much as we little dudes have been in for a much longer time. But a great songwriter is a great songwriter and Ty’s been there for some time now. This one sounds better than all of ’em. While Melted absolutely shredded and was extremely catchy at the same time, this one furthers Segall’s sonic exploration and crunches everything together oh so nicely. Up until now, we never really got the “You’re The Doctor” side of Ty, at least not this great. The straight fuzz package in “Ghost” is like what “Melted” accomplishes but without the wait. Pure immediacy. For long time listeners, Twins satisfies, and for newcomers, it surely must have you wondering you’ve been missing out on. It’s all right.
5. Ty Segall Band – Slaughterhouse – I know, I’m obsessed with this dude’s music. With a musician like Ty, you can go from listening to Lemons to Slaughterhouse and just nod in appreciation at how much more he has added to his arsenal. He had been doing the straight up old time rock and roll thing for a while, but with each release leading up to this, it seems as though he kept adding more and more weapons. For Slaughterhouse, Ty and band blasted full into heavier territory, leaving behind the two minute song for lengthy fuzzed out solos and pounding rhythms. The result is a wild success. While the Hair collaboration was a short and sweet affair through-and-through, Slaughterhouse is likewise full o’ goodies, but it beats out that album by containing Ty’s best song yet, “Wave Goodbye.” If the chorus doesn’t do it for you (why wouldn’t it?), there’s the “oooh-ooooh-oooh” part and duh…that solo. There aren’t any duds on this one and if the faster and more sinister stuff is more up your alley, I could easily understand why you’d rank this higher.
The Hussy – Weed Seizure – The Hussy have been impressing me with their studio output for a good while now and you guessed it – Weed Seizure is the pinnacle of their greatness so far. What the Hussy does so well is very much like what the bands above do so well: present you with a real strong melody and never have you looking back. The Hussy take their love of the beloved Jay Reatard and Segall, but cut out the loose ends and recorded some mighty quick numbers that definitely stack right up to the aforementioned. The whole album is unforgettable and sticky: the interestingly titled back-to-back tunes “FUDje” and “SFB” are highlights, right up there with opener “Undefined” and the primal “Dog Said Yeah”. The Hussy have been on a roll, touring relentlessly and releasing a whole lot of quality material…the prospects are looking great for ’em and all the best. They are a lesser known band that you oughta know…now!
Date: Monday, May 14, 2012
Venue: Space Gallery, Portland, ME
Pre-Show: “That’s the guy,” I say to a long-ish blonde haired young man who has just emerged from the front door of the Space Gallery. That guy is Ty Segall! I had just spoken to band-mates, Charlie and Emily, who were waiting outside. To myself I thought Ty couldn’t be that far away. And here he is. In person, he is just as you’d imagine — well-spoken, friendly, and highly approachable. The kind of guy whom you can get away with saying “do you think you look like this dude over here???” to. Just like an old pal from high school. Well, that old pal might be in grad school or working a 9 to 5 in the big city. Who knows? Ty is a college grad indeed, but he’s accomplished far more things than most in that category have…at least creatively. And he’s only 24 or 25 (depending on who you ask…I’ve even seen 23, but it’s been 23 for a couple of years now…probably could have gotten away with asking him to clarify that).
Strange Boys: What is a typical fans prep work before a show? Whole days spent lounging by the record player or nothing at all? When I can, I like doing some homework, but this process can be like studying for a final…things could go sour if you wait just days before the big test day, but if you’ve been keeping up all along you most likely will be fine. And ‘being fine’ here just means recognizing and appreciating the set as something familiar. Brand new songs can mess this dynamic up slightly, but you know what I mean! I’ve seen the Strange Boys a couple of times before tonight — the first time at the House of Blues opening for Deerhunter and headliner Spoon and the second time at TT The Bears alongside the honorable Gentleman Jesse and His Men and Those Darlins. Those were enjoyable performances, but tonight the Boys seem to be more at ease than ever. In other words, great shit. They even arrived a bit late, but it’s not like anyone would’ve known that without a brief discourse with the sound guy. Ryan Sambol begins the set on guitar, plucking soulfully, and entertaining requests before taking a seat in front of his keyboard. Instead of a set list, they (or maybe just Ryan) opted to go with what felt right. Brother Phillip wanted some real songs and they came eventually, but not before a 30 second tease of Thee Oh Sees “The Dream” via indirect request (what does Portland like?), a little “Sweet Jane” fudging, and a spawning of Glenn Danzig. A girl in the crowd wanted “Laugh At Sex Not Her” and she sure got it. A faster than ever version. In the Strange Boys mix of original material there seemed to be a focus on Live Music, but older cuts were thrown into the mix. To me, they played with more power and tightness than I can recall. The bass was groovier, the guitar solos hit harder, and the drumming was spot-on. Ryan said he hopes to see the crowd come out again next time. They will.
White Fence: The mastermind behind White Fence is Tim Presley. Tim looks fresh out of work, buttoned down collared shirt, dress slacks, you know business casual. Tim’s line of work is rock and roll and the dress code is there isn’t one. So this is what being a rock and roll warrior is all about? God bless. It’s interesting to see him and his band perform – on record, the experience is mainly psychedelic, melodic, but not real crazy. During their set, however, the band is far heavier and immediate. On constant display is Tim’s guitar playing, which propels the band. Don’t get me wrong the other band members are instrumental, quite literally, but Tim is a machine. With such a shitload of material in the White Fence discography, I don’t recognize many of the songs and that’s a bit of a shame. The great thing is the fact that I was impressed and now want to really buckle down and get going with the band. I’ve got the set-list, and now you do too!
Who Feels Right
Swagger Vets and Double Moon
Long White Curtain
Be Right Too
A Hermes Blues
Get That Heart
Sticky Fruitman Has Faith
Ty Segall: If you haven’t already gotten the vibes, Ty is one of my favorite musicians. Before this night, I had never seen him live. He was #1 must-see. In fact, I didn’t plan on going to this show until the last minute. How about that! So before the Ty Segall Band came up on stage, Tim on guitar, Mikal Cronin on bass, Nick Murray on drums, and Ty Segall on guitar graced the stage. These four performed two excellent tracks from Hair — “Time” and “Scissor People”. It was a perfect segue into the Band. They came out firing on all cylinders — the explosive entrance of distorted guitar in “Finger” set the course for the night. Heavy moshing, heavy pogo-ing. Heavy clapping. It was all making sense. Save some brief pauses in between songs, it felt like hit-after-hit. Non-stop crowd participation and loving. The three new songs — “Tell Me,” “Eyes,” and “Wave Goodbye” — that the band played off upcoming Slaughterhouse felt like old-time favorites. It makes the wait for that album all that more exciting. For me, I most enjoyed the ending of “Wave,” “The Floor,” “The Drag,” and “My Sunshine”. Consistently great moments. Some people started leaving after “My Sunshine,” and why would they do this? Did they think the band wouldn’t possibly be playing an encore?! Hope they came back because the Band sure did and played two songs. Which songs? I do not know. Maybe you do. They were fun. Perhaps a little “Caesar” or “Skin” to seal the deal would have been even better, but the Band did what they wanted to do. That’s great. This was a top concert experience for certain — I don’t remember being this excited to see a favorite band since maybe the Lips show back in ’09. They followed through on the excitement and then some. Check out all three bands, KLYAMers. You know that.
Ty Segall & White Fence Set-List:
Ty Segall Set-List: Finger
Standing At The Station
You Make The Sun Fry
Tell Me What’s Inside Your Heart
I Bought My Eyes
Comments: The way to underground rock and roll stardom can be confusing sometimes. Not to mention that there isn’t much ‘star’ in the kingdom of balls out rock and roll. And nobody really cares. Ty Segall has been well on his way to worldwide recognition for a few years now but it has only been in the past two years that this is becoming more and more evident to people besides his Goner devotees and his West Coast pals and supporters. Another thing worth mentioning early on is that this isn’t solely a Ty affair. So starting off a review like I just did might have been more suitable for Goodbye Bread, but let me continue. Tim Presley of White Fence has been on a colossal pace in terms of releasing new material. Is it only in San Francisco where the self-proclaimed rock and roll warriors roam? Thee Oh Sees, Mikal Cronin, and now these two guys. Releasing stuff at a pace that would cause Jay Reatard to maybe even raise an eyebrow. Collaborations are rampant in the Bay Area as well. You knew that. That leaves us to Hair. Listening to this album from the get-go, it’s hard to not imagine the fun these guys had during this process. They create a pretty distinct setting on this record, which is near the geographic center of Ty’s most psychedelic Goodbye Bread stuff and White Fence’s are-you-sure-this-is-not-an-old-recording-of-’60s psych- stuff. Besides the rush of charged guitar solos and full-on drum bashing, this album isn’t totally different from say the Grateful Dead. Maybe I’m wrong, and there are only a couple examples (“Time”, “The Black Glove/Rag”) of this. Or whatever. “Crybaby” is the most concise example of rock and roll fever that I’ve heard from Segall since Bread. It’s incredible refreshing. There comes a point, too, listening to this record where you just have to wonder: what if rock ‘n roll was as popular as hip-hop and electro-pop? Not to turn this into a Nirvana kind of thing…I wasn’t around then (or at least not in the form of a capable, developed being) so to even ponder something like this is incredibly exciting. And yes I know Ty AND White Fence played on this record. It’s scary the talent that’s out there. Then there will be people who want to themselves Ty, they want their White Fence, their Oh Sees. Those days are over. Is that a bad thing? Ty and Tim have such a handle on things, that they can effortlessly fuck around with the left-right channels to make it sound like you are surfing through a TV set that only plays real RnR stations. An incredible TV set that is. That song is “Scissor People,” by the way. By the end of “Tongues,” all I’m left with is the sentiment of damn. This record is more of a statement than a batch of fun-loving ditties a la Matador Singles ’08 or Arabia Mountain, to name a couple. It’s a statement that things can be subtle and low-key or things can be brash and in your face. It’s all good! The un-expected ending of “Time” is case and point. It seems like most of the greats get around to realizing this — looking at you Jay. Another thing is that Hair probably didn’t take much thought. Not the little organ part at the end of “I Am Not A Game”, not the increasing chaos of the other two guitars. It’s crazy to think. I wasn’t the biggest “I Am Not A Game” fan when it was first released to the general public, but listening to it in context can really change things. “Easy Ryder” is like revisiting Melted, but with a new perspective on lead guitars and the guitar solo construct in general. Is that not amazing? Hair is insane. A KLYAMer would be crazy to not check this out. Hope you speak as highly of this as I do!
So the following may or may not be the official video for Ty’s outstanding Goodbye Bread track “My Head Explodes”. The video says it is official so we’ll accept that as truth. Either way, it’s less psychedelic and more carnage than the other Goodbye Bread vids.