All Rough, No Diamonds
Evincing a multitudinous output in solo form, scuzz purveyor Ty Segall has “debuted,” in a way, in the form of Ty Segall Band—essentially a re-branded iteration of his current touring lineup. Upping the raunch to unsafe and insane levels, the daredevil surf slop of Slaughterhouse heaves itself headlong into a caution-to-the-wind stunt of Jackass proportions. And not unlike Johnny Knoxville’s show, the album walks a dental floss tightrope between stupid-cool and stupid-stupid. Ultimately, the band’s result is a cloying bombast of superlatives: greased vocals lurch into obscurity, the guitars peak and explode almost on a level with—if it’s possible—Japanese titans Guitar Wolf, and many of the songs unravel like the sacred gauze of Ty’s SF forefathers, The Mummies. For no lack of trying—and perhaps due to too much trying—Slaughterhouse is the loud child you’ve learned to ignore.
Intro track “Death” launches into a sturdy enough bargain-basement psych. The guitars throttle along like Africanized bees, drummer gal Emily Rose Epstein fills and rolls her way through a pulsing four-on-the-floor, and Ty barks a halting echo-blasted vocal. $20 bucks if you can figure it out without the lyric sheet. It’s all fine for what it is, but for being such a low-brow fetish piece, one gets the sense its due for a kind of gleeful aggrandizement. A good kitsch king, like a Warhol or a Tarantino, knows how to draw on schlock and the sensational, then magically transmute it into a regal expression. Ty, there’s your homework for the day.
Credit where credit’s due, “Wave Goodbye” is a standout. The singer’s bratty vocals are understandable and quite funny, as well. “I went to churches, I went to school / I played by all of your other rules,” Ty snarks with a snotty, finger-to-your-chest delivery. “But now it’s time to drink the wine / And wave goodbye,” he concludes, busting out with a screeching “bye-bye!” Where he’s going we don’t know, but my guess is it’s referring to something of the suicidal-homicidal variety, or both. The clipped “Geezer Butler on Ambien” bassline is sufficiently nutty, and the song’s wading-through-mud guitar riff is a definite Iommi sendup, down to the well-placed “trill of doom” flourishes. If the whole album where like this…
But sadly, no such luck. Most of Slaughterhouse plays like the coal-weighted Nuggets Rhino Records should’ve left in the cave. “That’s the Bag I’m In” and “Oh Mary,” being the crude anthracite lumps they are, clamor and fuss with buttress-busting abandon. Yet no matter how hard Ty Segall Band pounds, its all rough and no diamonds.
With the album’s closer, “Fuzz War,” it could be said it sounds like the fantastic creeks and murmurs of our antediluvian issuance from the hot dense soup, but not only would that be a waste of good copy, but likely engaging high-minded analysis far from native to the Ty Segall Band. What’s important is these guys have set out to make smart-dumb music in the grand tradition of “Surfin’ Bird” or “Wild Thing,” a perfectly laudatory goal. What they’ve ended up with, however, is—well—dumb-dumb music. I guess some things are best left on the Slaughterhouse floor.