A record a year (not counting collaborations) since 2008 Ty Segall has given us riotous fuzz-rock (‘Ty Segall’), lofi psych-folk (‘Melted’), and full-on surf-hardcore riffage (‘Slaughterhouse’). Now sees him return with his supposedly most accessible set of tracks to date. Seventeen of them, in fact.
Two things. One: Reading that ‘Manipulator’ was the sound of a “more focused” and “accessible” Segall had me a touch nervous. And two: learning that the record has seventeen tracks and clocks in at near an hour had me even more nervous still. These are not the reasons most of us have come to admire and adore the work of this slightly bonkers, not-giving-a-shit artist up to now. And anyway, on the point of what reviewers usually mean by “accessible”. Let us not kid ourselves here, what they mean to say is the music should appeal to those who purchase a handful of albums a year, the people who were not there at the beginning. All I know is that Ty Segall’s music has been pretty much accessible to these ears up until this point. It’s this ongoing fascination among so many music writers and DJ’s with money, with the idea of artists “breaking into the mainstream”, an obsession with the business end of things, with A&R. Balls to that. That says nothing to me about my life. And quite possibly your life too.
Refraining from using either accessible or focused I shall instead say that much– if not all– of ‘Manipulator’ is more refined in its production than what we’ve been used to hearing from Segall. But thankfully, for the most part, the quality remains. A trick many acts have failed to pull off throughout the history of rock music. So fair dues to Segall here.
On the subject of its length this is an album that you don’t particularly need to enjoy from start to finish in any sort of conceptual, road journey manner. Instead you can drop in and out– enjoying several of its tracks here and there– as you so wish. Not all of what is on here will grab you in that ‘annoy your neighbour and fuck it all’ sorta fashion, in the same way the majority of the stuff on his previous albums have no doubt done, but there are still enjoyable tunes to be had. You may just find yourself remaining on your chair more than usual.
I suppose there is a certain restraint to the party-time, psych-tinged glam-rock showcased during much of the album. And after the acoustic– and mostly underwhelming– previous album ‘Sleeper’ the question currently must be: has Ty Segall eventually matured? Let us hope not. In fact here’s hoping for ‘Slaughterhouse; The return of’ for his next trick.
Wild and heavy– but no doubt ultimately lovable– psych-rockers Hookworms released their debut album ‘Pearl Mystic’ to generally head-nodding-in-approval reception last year. New cut ‘The Impasse’ is a freewheeling little brute indeed, and has been previewed to help set us up for new album ‘The Hum’. The album gets a Domino release– once that label sobers up after last night’s AIM Label of the Year award– November 10. And while we’re on the subject, below find the complete list of winners at this year’s AIM Independent Music Awards.
Best Live Act (in association with Songkick): Sophie Ellis-Bextor
Independent Breakthrough of The Year (sponsored by 7digital): London Grammar
Hardest Working Band or Artist (in association with Jack Daniel’s): Ghetts
Best ‘Difficult’ Second Album (in association with Xfm): Ben Watt – Hendra
Independent Album of The Year (sponsored by MixRadio): Arctic Monkeys – AM
Best Small Label (sponsored by Disc Manufacturing Services): Hyperdub
PPL Award For Most Played New Independent Act: London Grammar
Special Catalogue Release of The Year (in association with Amazon Music): Various – Purple Snow: Forecasting The Minneapolis Sound
Independent Label of The Year (sponsored by Believe Digital): Domino
Independent Track of The Year (sponsored by Spotify): Twin Atlantic – Heart & Soul
Independent Video of The Year (sponsored by VEVO): Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip – You Will See
Indie Champion Award (sponsored by CI): John Doran, The Quietus
Golden Welly Award for Best Independent Festival (in association with AIF and DIY): Barn on the Farm
Special Recognition Award: Alison Wenham, AIM Chairman and CEO
Outstanding Contribution to Music (sponsored by eMusic): Richie Hawtin
Pioneer Award: Martin Mills, Beggars Group
Innovator Award (sponsored by The Orchard): Steve Goodman aka Kode9 of Hyperdub Records
Philly psych-rock combo Purling Hiss are seemingly never far away from a recording studio, this confirmed with news of another new album ‘Weirdon’ due later this month, the follower to last year’s ‘Water On Mars’. The band also re-issued the 6-track ‘Purling Hiss’ release on Permanent Records at the beginning of the year. In the meantime whet your collective appetites to excellent new track ‘Forcefield Of Solitude’. The album from which it comes is to released on the Drag City label.
One of our favourite band-names is Cymbals Eat Guitars, and ‘Lose’ is their third album that is due via Barsuk in US/Tough Love in Ireland and UK at the end of August. From it the band have shared the rollicking and riff-tastic punk-popper single ‘Warning’. ‘Lose’ is the first new material since 2011’s ‘Lenses Alien’ album.
The Allah-Lahs are another band who’ve been away a little while, whose self-titled unashamedly sixties-feel psyche-flower of a pop record we enjoyed back in 2012. Glad to tell you that they’re back with the surf-tinged instrumental track ‘No Werewolf, and it can be found as a bonus cut on forthcoming album ‘Worship The Sun’, which is available on September 16 via the Innovative Leisure label.
‘III’ is, surprisingly enough, album number three for Bo Ningen, a record that the Guardian– where it can be found currently for streaming– describe as “Japanese psych-rockers exploring their musical horizons”. Ten tracks here of mostly vibe-ridden psychedelic agitation is how we describe it.
‘III’ is also an album that in some respects is hard to decide if it’s quite good or quite ridiculous. Second track Psychedelic Misemono Goya (err, Reprise) sounds like some students doing Red Hot Chili Peppers in the style of The Rapture, Inu is a free-to-roam noise-funk jam, that fails to get to where you assume it’s trying to get to, Mukaeni Ikenai scales things back into eight-odd minutes of tripy shoegaze-y wishy-washiness, and Mitsume seems to invite The Edge along for a spot of rather nifty effects pedal lark in a post-RAWK! stylee. Some are undoubtedly going to enjoy this album, but it is also in some ways rather ‘been-there-heard-it’. And this is only when describing the bits that, kind of, come off.
‘With Light and With Love is’– as with all Woods records– proper and true, if not always consistent. At times flowing loveliness, at other times more, er, to-the-left psych experiments (the nine-minute long title track– with its through-one-channel, perfectly placed guitar solos that develop into a more noisily festooned wigout, certainly representative of the latter description). A record that has a stronger side A than side B, admittedly, yet even its less agreeable moments won’t do you much harm as it accompanies you through the summer months.
With this album– country-rock-psychers Woods’s first since 2012’s ‘Bend Beyond’– there’s a sense of wonder and uplift to both lyrics and sound. Like the sun piercing through the trees first thing in the morning, there is a hazy bright light to much of what is going on during With Light and With Love (see the title). ‘Moving to the Left ‘and ‘Leaves Like Glass’ are soft, balanced, Mercury Rev-like tunes of languid prettiness, with the vocals at times approaching Marc Bolan style. These among the stronger examples of the theme that runs through the majority of ‘With Light and With Love'; the band indulging in purposeful and timeless (though likewise rooted in late the 60s/early 70s) hazy pop.
One gets the feeling listening to the record that it can appear at times bordering on the ‘hippie opportunist’ nonsense, but closer inspection suggests a genuine quality and feel that discounts this. Woods are too long in the tooth and experienced, if unassuming, recordists– and recording label owners– to be accused of such things.
John Dwyer’s Thee Oh Sees continue to release album on top of album at a rate of about one a year (sometimes two), each one not much different to the one before, yet each one a slight development, a must listen, an enjoyable ear-pull of the half idea, the screeching rock-out, the psych lowslunger, the three-minute lofi pop gem.
Savage Victory’s two-step and dripping feedback approach comes over all scary glam, Put Some Reverb On My Brother is just the right side of costumed-up rock parody, Camera is a true-to-you kindly dose of glitter-riff 60’s psych-pop, and Transparent World a wig-out of freeform psych-jazz.
Each new record shows us Dwyer and his bandmates’ shared spirit and love of this sort of thing; goodtime rock n roll played with vim and an everlasting youth, an innocent but true means of getting the best sound out of both old guitar and whirling keys. The band was rumoured to be taking a break last year but, though ‘Drop’ isn’t perhaps amongst their best two or three albums, still, they did the right thing in putting those hiatus plans on hold.
Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado helped out with the recording of album 9 Songs, from which the wonderful Dograces comes. Displaying a Beck-like loose limbed psych-folk jam, Pitchfork has already compared it to Mark E Smith. Which is always gonna be good enough for us. A slightly mentalist approach, maybe, but one that hits nail on head.