Posted by: Necci – Jun 12, 2012
Drag City Records have been bringing the world some excellent underground, independent, and otherwise unclassifiable tuneage from their Chicago bunker for over two decades now--everything from Pavement to Joanna Newsom to the various identities of Will Oldham and a whole lot more. Last year, they signed prolific garage-rock auteur Ty Segall, who has since given Drag City one LP, two EPs, a full-length collaboration with White Fence, and has another LP in the works. Segall, whose quick workrate does nothing to hamper his genius with a power-pop riff, was the subject of a feature story in our magazine last year, and has only grown more popular since that story appeared. Perhaps for that reason, Drag City chose him to be the inaugural performer for their new series of short videos known as Drag City Limits.
Unlike the Austin City Limits television show to which the series pays homage, these videos aren't recorded on roomy, well-miked soundstages. Instead, Segall and his backing band are crammed into a tiny, tiled room in the basement of the Drag City label offices, where they must perform a song without smashing their instruments into each other or the walls. Segall and his band pull off this feat in fine fashion, despite drummer Emily Rose Epstein's being forced to use an abbreviated version of her kit, which she has to stand up to play, and there being only one vocal mic for Segall and bassist/backing vocalist Mikal Cronin to share. It seems like a lot of other bands might have trouble working in such a confined space, but Segall, who has always had a more than passing acquaintance with lo-fi recording methods, instead thrives, howling and slashing at his guitar with an inspired fury. The song being performed--"You Make The Sun Fry," from last year's Goodbye Bread--starts off with Segall singing and playing by himself, and it briefly attains the bleak intensity of Folkways field recordings capturing pre-war bluesmen in tarpaper shacks, before the rest of the band comes in and blows the whole song away in a pounding, undifferentiated wall of sound. The result seems like the way any of Segall's down-and-dirty garage-punk compositions should be heard--ragged but right; not too clear but powerful nonetheless. And the band are obviously having a great time while they play it, as is most obvious during Segall and lead guitarist Charles Moothart's dueling guitar solos at the 1:35 mark. I can't imagine you won't have a great time watching it, too.
The Ty Segall Band are about to release a new LP entitled Slaughterhouse, which comes out on In The Red Records in just a couple of weeks (this is a completely different album from the forthcoming Drag City release, which will apparently be a solo outing for Segall. Like I said, the guy's prolific). They'll also be embarking on a summer tour in a month or so, which will first take them to Europe but eventually brings them back to Richmond, where they'll be performing with garage-rock living legends Thee Oh Sees on September 21 at Strange Matter. Advance tickets for that show just went on sale today at tyohsees.eventbrite.com, and between the relatively small size of the venue and the fact that this is Segall and Thee Oh Sees' only show between Nashville and Brooklyn, you better believe that if you want to see this show, you should get your tickets now.
By Andrew Necci