Fuzz album review: Ty Segall’s time machine is hard rock genius

Fuzz (2013)

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Ty Segall knows what he likes

Who would have thought 2014 would be such a great year for seventies rock ?

Fuzz (a name that has been used before by several bands) is a power trio founded by Ty Segall, who has a reputation for making excellent vintage hard rock straight out of the seventies. Just to be clear, think Ozzy Osbourne, Blue Oyster Cult, Deep Purple, the groovy, dirty, psychedelic sound from before Def Leppard, reverbed snares and spandex. It’s important to get the context right here: Ty Segall’s influences stop very clearly at 1979. But keep this in mind: Ty Segall is 27 and has been quoted saying his favorite pass-time was jamming at home to Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. He is dedicated.

Segall has had several projects in the last years, and he already made a name for himself with the Ty Segall Band‘s excellent 2012 album Slaughterhouse, a less heavy album which  already explored the classic 70’s rock sound, but with more room for melodies.

(NB: Slaughterhouse not to be confused with the rap outfit collaborating with Eminem).

Fuzz is essentially the logical continuity of Segall’s previous projects, but with the punch and directness of the power-trio outfit and more freedom given to guitarist Charles Moothart to let it rip with perfect, catchy riffs and shameless, dirty, over-driven solos.

So where is Segall in all this ? Singing from behind the drums, while playing like a devil.

On your hands, or on your knees : channeling Ozzy and Blue Oyster Cult

While the Ty Segall Band have been compared with The Who, Black Sabbath seems to be the most prominent influence on the single What’s in My Head, from the melody to the over-the-top singing style.

This is not however the most dominant influence on the album as a whole, mainly because the guitarist is too damned good and wants to play faster and with more solos.

Sleigh Ride, Hazemaze, Loose Sutures are all high-tempo tracks and remind me more of Deep Purple circa Highway Star and Live in Japan, while the psychedelic, drony intro to Earthen Gate recalls just how shockingly modern Blue Oyster Cult were when they unleashed their acid-dripping riffs on the unsuspecting hippie crowds.

Those who think psychedelic music was about flowers and rainbows are greatly mistaken. It’s a soundtrack for roaring down the highway in a yellow bus with dodgy brakes. It’s psych-rock that led to hard rock and metal, and Fuzz know it. Crank up the volume and listen to Raise, with it’s almost punk drumming. Hell, they even called the last track One, like a raised finger to Lars Ulrich.

Proto-metal and the return of post-rock : lick it if it don’t stick

We could play the labels game all night : psych rock, prog, hard rock. Some even say the term heavy metal was coined for Hendrix (NB: a dubious claim).

What matters here is that Fuzz have done what they set out to do extremely well. They got the sound right. They gave it all they had. Looking at the videos they have released, it seems they wear it proudly live. There are no filler tracks on Fuzz and I can’t remember last time I listened to an album so consistent from start to finish.

I am greatly looking forward to seeing them live, I hope with other great hard rocking seventies-inspired bands like the Black Angels, Aqua Nebula Oscillator, or Witchcraft.

And I’ll buy a neck brace before the show.

 

 

 

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