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Ty Segall Takes Rock out of the Garage

September 21st, 2009

Ty Segall – Mercury Lounge – September 20, 2009

Jason Dean
At the punk-rock age of 21, Ty Segall has already spent time in numerous bands in San Francisco—as lead singer of the Epsilons and drummer for the Traditional Fools—and he’s emerged with a wake of 7″ singles and solo full-lengths behind him. All of the previous low-fi efforts have culminated in this current distilled version of garage rock: Combine late ’60s bands like the Sonics and the Pretty Things with a reverb-soaked surf rock, and you get a blistering update of a genre like his opener, “Waiting at the Station.”

Segall gained momentum as a literal one-man band, but he played Mercury Lounge last night backed by Robbie on drums and “always his birthday” Tim on bass, which added a solid foundation to Segall’s slap-echoed vocals and gritty guitar distortion. The songs are brief and frantic waves of pop, as he shakes his head and gets his nerve up to the mike, closing his eyes and howling. It’s a West Coast-surfer vibe tangling with the hard-rock blues, awash in reverb and held together by pot haze and a foot-stomping rhythm. Segall joked before playing an original: “Here’s a classic-rock song.” It’s true he’s taking rock back to solidly written pop, proving there is value in nothing more than a raw guitar riff and a blues scream. —Jason Dean