Ty Segall Band’s Slaughterhouse begins with “Death,” and a squealing guitar squall at the beginning makes the listener wonder what they’ve gotten themselves into. But after such a chaotic beginning, Segall’s tenor signals a turn toward a linear (if still loud) 60’s Nuggets-style groove. Segall’s periodic screams notwithstanding, the rest of the track is much more of an easy listen, but that’s not to say that it doesn’t rock.
His ensemble has recently landed a plum assignment playing with Japandroids at Lincoln Hall in a “Sound Opinions” live show on the eve of the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago, leading one to wonder, who is Ty Segall, and what’s up with his band?
After spinning just the first few tracks, it’s not a surprise to learn that one of this San Franciscan’s many bands, Party Fowl contributed a cover of GG Allin’s “Die When You Die” to the Husk Records tribute Scum Fuck Revolt, nor is it a surprise that he’s a collaborator with fellow Bay Area spacey denizens Sic Alps, whose twisted garage rock psychedelia has blown up quite a few skirts in recent years, nor that another one of his bands is called The Perverts (two of whom play on this record, and share a common musical interbreeding with Epsilons and Charlie and The Moonhearts).
Segall told Canada’s Exclaim! that he wanted to “do a total glam Stooges-meets-Hawkwind or Sabbath, something like that. I think that would be super fun. I want to throw people off. I want to make a really heavy record: evil, evil space rock. Put a little Satan in space and you got the sound. Hawkwind’s ‘Silver Machine’ meets Sabbath’s ‘N.I.B.’ meets Hawkwind’s ‘Master of the Universe.’”
There’s only Hawkwind here in terms of the echoey spaciousness, but Segall, along with his bandmates Emily Rose Epstein on drums, Charles Moothart on guitar and Mikal Cronin on bass guitar and backing vocals, has the Stooges/Sabbath/Satan trinity down pat, for sure. There’s not a lot of interstellar space here, but there’s plenty of planet evil, as if he’s saying, “Yes, Blue Oyster Cult were wrong, actually, you should fear the reaper.”
Having said that, it’s framed in such a quaint sixties/Sonics framework, that it can’t help but be charming, invigorating and . . . well, downright groovy, a word which the sweaty, scuzzy Segall most likely despises with a passion. There’s also the spiraling psychedelic shredwork reminiscent of the likeminded subterranean garage dwellers of Chicago like Outer Minds and Verma.
On the title track, Segal’s screams are reminiscent of the late lamented Jay Reatard, although far more blood-curdling. You’ve have to go back to The Beatles’ White Album to hear a scream so disturbing; it’s downright Munchian. “It’s all for you,” he sings on “The Tongue,” and whatever “it” is does not sound that pleasant, unless he’s referring to pleasuring his girlfriend, and even that sounds like the promise of riding the roughness of a tiger’s tongue.
The squall at the beginning proves to be a portentous moment, as the chaos is back in spades on the lengthy, ambitious concluding cut “Fuzz War,” and with the beautiful tunes and engaging hooks sandwiched in the middle of these slices of jagged sawblades, the motif proves to be a microcosm of Slaughterhouse as a whole.
After more than a few spins in ye olde mp3 player, it’s easy to picture this quartet rocking out in a dark basement somewhere in hell, amidst perspiring black walls and watching fountains of blood gushing from the ears of a jubilant crowd.
- Death 4:26
- I Bought My Eyes 3:46
- Slaughterhouse 1:35
- The Tongue 2:41
- Tell Me What’s Inside Your Heart 3:41
- Wave Goodbye 4:33
- Muscle Man 1:31
- The Bag I’m In 2:45
- Diddy Wah Diddy 2:24
- Oh Mary 1:37
- Fuzz War 10:23