Music, Print, Reviews September 12, 2014

Album Review: Ty Segall – Manipulator

by Kyle Eustice

ty_promo_8_by_denee_petracekLaguna Beach native Ty Segall has exploded with popularity since he started popping up in lo-fi garage rock bands around Orange County in the early 2000’s, and now, Segall’s solo career is on fire after releasing 2008’s self-titled debut. With an affinity for fuzzed-out guitars, surf rock and ‘60s-inspired psychedelic garage rock, Segall has proven to be on the front lines of the recent garage rock surge. Fortunately for Segall, he made the move to San Francisco before MTV’s reality show, Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County, landed on his front door. It transformed his hometown into something unrecognizable to him. Fortunately, that’s beginning to change.

“It just got too much attention,” he says. “All of these new business showed up and new kids that were going to school for all the wrong reasons. Some kids wanted to get famous and their parents supported that. A lot of the really cool, older restaurants shut down because they couldn’t keep up with all of the new business. New laws popped up for awhile, like no skateboarding. For real, it was super weird. A lot of really weird things happened. It’s getting better now. The notoriety has worn off, which is cool. It’s just a trip.”

Technically, his first solo effort was a cassette-only release titled Horn the Unicorn, but 2008’s self-titled album debut was really what started to garner him significant attention. Each subsequent release seemed to be better than the last. 2009’s Lemons, 2010’s Melted and 2011’s Goodbye Bread were further evidence of his love for ‘60s-sounding distorted guitar tones and penchant for songwriting. On Goodbye Bread, which was his Drag City Records debut, Segall played every single instrument, however, drummer Emily Rose Epstein stepped in for 2012’s Twins, 2013’s Slaughterhouse and more recently, Manipulator (August 26 on Drag City). While his music may mimic the garage rock sounds of the ‘60s and ‘70s, Segall doesn’t share in the whole “sex, drugs and rock-n-roll” philosophy, per se. He’s much more careful about what he does (or doesn’t do) and assures he “isn’t a fan of groupies.”

manipulator“I never felt comfortable with speed, heroin or hard shit like that. I’ve tried some hallucinogenics in my life and some other drugs,” he admits. “I drink alcohol and that’s about it. I don’t smoke weed or anything like that. Substance abuse is just more recognized now than it was in the past. People are always surprised that I don’t smoke weed. I get a lot of flack for not smoking. I mean dude, it’s hard to tastefully be socially responsible and share your ideas. That’s the hardest part. You can’t go on stage and go ‘Fuck drugs!’ People are going to be like, ‘that’s not fun’ and they will probably go to the bar.”

Manipulator kicks off with the title track, featuring an unrelenting organ that immediately infiltrates your subconscious, making it impossible to forget. From then on, Segall slays the guitar and rips through the entire 17-song effort. Stand out tracks include “The Clock” (which is almost reminiscent of a Led Zeppelin track) and the more down tempo “Green Belly.” Stick around to the last track “Stick Around,” the quality doesn’t suffer for a single moment. Segall indeed manipulates our eardrums with his continuation of an incredible catalog.

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