TY SEGALL’s new self-titled album on Drag City keeps us guessing while splashing our collective face with no shortage of astringent tunes of all colors.

At his best, Ty Segall is a master songwriter trapped in the body of a punk — although the limitations of his garage-inflected rock actually keep him grounded and focused rather than restricted. The California bandleader’s prolific output over the past decade has grown increasingly ambitious in its own humble and rough-hewn way; at the same time, he refuses to set aside the gnarled riffs, spilled booze and busted knuckles of his most blistering work. That hasn’t changed on his latest album (his second, after one in 2008, to bear the name Ty Segall). What’s different is an even more ardent attempt at confining chaos and squeezing catchy, catastrophically massive pop gems out of it.


“Break A Guitar” busts the album wide open right at the outset, as it harnesses a thunderous glam-rock stomp that barely conceals huge hooks and Segall’s supple, helium-infused melodies. “Take my guitar / I’ll be at the bar,” he sings at the end, adding a Replacements-esque twist to an otherwise swaggering demonstration of rock ‘n’ roll overconfidence. The distortion grows even more corrosive in “The Only One,” whose dueling guitar leads (between Segall and his longtime second guitarist Emmett Kelly) erupt gloriously into a fugue of frenzied abandon. “Thank You Mr. K” ups the ante even further, succumbing to a psychedelic-meets-hardcore attack that chugs along at the breakneck speed of a bad, bleak trip.

But Ty Segall does more than throttle and thrash. “Talkin’,” a pointed parable about self-absorption, is wrapped in softly strummed acoustic guitars. “Orange Color Queen” picks up on the same vibe, but with a more reflective bent; like a daydream on a rowboat in the middle of a slow-moving river, the song meanders through a vivid landscape of heartache while Segall does his best impression of a warbling angel. Mikal Cronin, the group’s bassist (and an excellent bandleader in his own right), joins Segall on vocals in “Take Care (To Comb Your Hair),” another acoustic song whose plaintive, plucky tendencies shift deliriously from folky tenderness to needling, fuzzed-out riffage by song’s end.

The album’s most ambitious moments, though, appear in “Warm Hands (Freedom Returned).” At 10-plus minutes, it’s a break from Segall’s standard three-and-a-half-minute hand grenades; heroically, it doesn’t waste a second in its pursuit of pop-history synthesis, starting out as a paint-peeling ball of snarling menace before dissolving into a wonderfully sparse, spacious jam. “Papers” may not be as ambitious, lengthwise, but it stretches Segall’s canvas in a different way. Keyboardist Ben Boye’s piano is given a more prominent spot in the complex arrangement, and the entire song reflects a Beatles-like sense of sophistication, complete with cryptic lyrics and elusive melancholia. Segall’s role models are still as plain as day — Marc Bolan, Ray Davies and Syd Barrett chief among them — but on Ty Segall, he’s taken yet another strong step toward turning retroactive garage rock into high art.

  • Classical piano master and musical alchemist LANG LANG makes his PEACE CENTER debut on February 27th! YES!
    CALL 864-467-3000 OR VISIT www.peacecenter.org FOR DETAILS & INFO! If one word applies to Lang Lang, to the musician, to the man, to his worldview, to those who come into contact with him, it is “inspiration”. It resounds like a musical motif through his life and career. He inspires millions with his open-hearted, emotive playing, whether it be in intimate recitals or on the grandest of stages – such as the 2014 World Cup concert in Rio, with Placido Domingo, to celebrate the final game; the 56th and 57th GRAMMY Award two years in a row, where he performed with Metallica and Pharrell Williams; the Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where more than four billion people around the world viewed his performance; the Last Night of the Proms at London’s Royal Albert Hall, or the Liszt 200th birthday concert with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Charles Dutoit which was broadcast live in more than 300 movie theaters around the United States and 200 cinemas across Europe (the first classical music cinema cast to be headlined by a solo artist).
  • ODDISEE takes us on another epic hip-hop journey with “The Iceberg,” out 3/10. It’s a social, personal and political work that seeks some answers within the chaos.
    The prolific MC, producer and musician Oddisee's new album, ''The Iceberg,'' is a plea for humanity to dig deeper in search of understanding and common ground. ''The Iceberg'' is a distillation of stereotypical tropes in hip-hop and beyond, 12 tracks about money, sex, politics, race and religion that appear superficial until his multi-dimensional lyrics unfurl to expose the complexities of individuality and identity: How we see ourselves and how others see us. Deeply soulful, and shot through with jazz, go-go, gospel, thick r&b and hard beats, the album is a timely, poetic statement.