REVIEW: Ty Segall and the Freedom Band – Deforming Lobes

California rocker Ty Segall’s latest is a live album. He’s on record as saying that it’s kind of a full stop. In case you’re unfamiliar with his oeuvre, he’s kind of like the California rock equivalent of Guided By Voices’ Robert Pollard. In that he likes to experiment. And put out records. So as you read this sentence he’s probably put out another album. With a second – oops, make that a third – and a fourth and a fifth – planned for release by year end. He and his mighty Freedom Band travel the gamut from gentle folksy psychedelia (check out ‘Take Care (to Cob Your Hair)’ from 2017’s self-titled album to see what I mean) to gnarly guitar shred workouts that will peel the skin from your face. Much of Deforming Lobes sits more in the latter camp than the former.

So: things to know. Deforming Lobes is 8 songs chosen from a three night residency Ty and the band had at the Teragram Ballroom in LA in January 2018. Steve Albini produces and removes most crowd noise (they loiter in the background of ‘The Finger’) so that it is easy to listen to this as a cool band rocking out and nothing more.

What it isn’t (as you’d expect) is a greatest hits kind of full stop. Ty Segall is not the kind of musician you sense spends too much time wondering what his audience would like him to do next. We get ‘Warm Hands’ from that aforementioned 2017 record (about a minute shorter than the album cut but considerably more amped up – all of the mellow end of song noodling gets jettisoned). We get ‘Squealer’ and ‘Breakfast Eggs’ from 2016’s Emotional Mugger, former glam stompers both transformed into full on punk spews. ‘The Crawler’ follows and finds Segall doing a credible Lyndon snarl through a song that originally appeared on 2014’s The Manipulator. Similarly, his return to 2009’s ‘The Finger’ is considerably harder and sludgier than the original. This is the sound of a band proverbially taking no prisoners.

Like Evan Dando, Ty Segall is a musician who likes to throw in a cover version or two (check out his version of Hot Chocolate’s Every 1’s a Winner – arguably the best cover version recorded by anyone on the planet in 2018 – from Freedom’s Goblin), and we get a surprisingly respectable take on the Groundhog’s ‘Cherry Red’ before the album bows out with a seven minute version of ‘Love Fuzz’ from 2012’s Twins album (where it clocks in at a much more solemn 3m33s). Having got this far, you won’t shocked to learn that it rocks like a low slung swamp beast. Deforming Lobes, then, is not the album you buy for someone wondering what all the fuss around this Ty Segall chap is. This is the album that Ty Segall fans buy in order to nod their heads in time with the jams as they drive home like Homer saying YES! YES! YES! In fact, that moment where Homer says, “Do you want to rock?” This is the soundtrack to that answer.

Words by Pete Wild.


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