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Ty Segall Band - Slaughterhouse

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Artist: Ty Segall Band

Album: Slaughterhouse

Label: In the Red

Review date: Jul. 13, 2012

I get it: With a release schedule like Ty Segall’s, some records are going to be more off-the-cuff than others. Every part of Slaughterhouse, from the brash guitars to the recording banter included on a number of its songs, seems to indicate that it’s a stop-gap release, just Segall having some fun with his band in between more serious recording projects. For an LP that seems like it’s poised to be a carefree piss-take, though, Slaughterhouse contains surprisingly little spontaneity. Maybe it’s a function of feeling the need to crank out 50 songs a year, but more than ever before, Slaughterhouse has reduced Segall’s performance to a series of calculated moves.

Most of the moves are good ones, though. Segall’s guitar is as majestically blown-out as it ever was, and the falsetto he reliably resorts to during the chorus is sounding as nice as it ever did. That actually ends up being part of the problem — aside from a newfound interest in clean guitar solos, Slaughterhouse sounds like Ty Segall trying to make a “Ty Segall record.” The result isn’t terrible (even a Ty Segall record in scare quotes ends up sounding all right), but for a guy with a batting average like Segall’s, it suggests he might want to take his foot off the gas a little bit.

Leaving in so much of Segall’s pre- and post-song recording banter (“Fuck! Yeah!”) goes a long way in giving the impression that he and his band just hit ‘record’ and let a bunch of songs rip. Segall’s voice seems to get more unhinged with each song, and on album highlight “Diddy Wah Diddy,” he seems to let things fly off the rails entirely before calling it quits and yelling “Fuck this fucking song!” It’s a moment that would parse as the goofy, spontaneous, rock-and-roll event Segall and his band seem like they’re shooting for, except the majority of Slaughterhouse comes off as pretty measured and rehearsed.

Anyone familiar with Segall’s guitar work up to this point knows he’s capable of berserk wall-of-sound guitar freakouts par excellance, but on Slaughterhouse he gives a few of the pedals a rest; what’s left, such as on leadoff track “Death” and the midtempo “Muscle Man,” ends up sounding pretty thrown together and unmemorable. The record’s dedication to full-speed-ahead rock ‘n’ roll removes the sonic dynamics that Segall has made his bread and butter, and tracks like “Wave Goodbye” are only saved by Segall’s vocals. It’s telling that one of the most organic, unrestrained moments on Slaughterhouse takes the form of a cover of a Nuggets-era classic (“That’s the Bag I’m In”).

It’s not Segall’s best, but Slaughterhouse sits near the top of the heap of loud, ignorant party garage. (In spite of how rote it can come off, most records in its neighborhood come off much worse.) When Segall’s history is in play, though, it’s tough to shake the idea that he could do better.

By Joe Bernardi

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