If you ask any music fan that possesses even the slightest bit of knowledge on the garage rock scene in San Francisco who the most prolific representative is, they'll say Ty Segall. Any review or feature about the man will tell you how productive and creative he is, and his back catalogue alone proves that. A big handful of solo albums and collaborations with artist friends under his belt, Segall just keeps the ball rolling constantly without any indication that he's gonna slow down. Only a couple of weeks ago did he announce his entrance into another band, named Fuzz. He is already a member of The Traditional Fools, Epsilons, Party Fowl, Sic Alps and The Perverts as well as being the leader of his own group, the Ty Segall Band. To sum it up, he's a very active and busy musician who is constantly evolving and adapting his sound within the garage rock sphere, and here we have the reissue of Reverse Shark Attack, a loud, urgent and heavy rock'n'roll album which Segall wrote and recorded in 2009 with arguably his best and closest collaborator, Mikal Cronin.
Cronin plays bass in the Ty Segall Band and is a distinguished solo artist in his own right. I saw them on stage together twice over 2012 and through witnessing their performances it was easy to notice the brotherly bond the two have formed. Both musicians have a softer, poppier side which can be explored by listening to Segall's Goodbye Bread and Cronin's self-titled debut, but this album is far, far away from that. It is pure, unadulterated, balls out rock'n'roll in its most blistering form.
The album opens with 'I Wear Black', which instantly echoes The Hives and their fantastic early garage revival work, complete with swirling vocal effects which connote mayhem and madness in the tradition of Howlin' Pelle Almqvist via 'The Hives Declare Guerre Nucleaire'. The guitars are brutal and straight to the point, a rule which is maintained throughout the entire 8 songs. Next comes 'Drop Dead Baby', a mean, nasty cut which sees Segall snarl through the verses before an amazing riff in the style of James Williamson (of the Stooges) kicks you hard in the bollocks. A lot of the record is distorted and messy with warped, unintelligible vocals but there are moments of sheer coolness which drag it back down to earth. And when I say warped, unintelligible vocals, I mean some of the output sounds as if it was recorded through a hoover or some other household appliance. However, the Stooges used to do stuff like that so it must be fucking cool.
The album cover is really swell; a funny picture of Segall and Cronin posing on the beach dressed in smart suits, complete with plush cartoonesque shark heads. It's kinda representative of the album as a whole: as aggressive as a shark attack but as care-free as two goofy kids from California just trying to deliver the brilliant music they make as often as possible.
The inclusion of 'Take Up Thy Stethoscope & Run' is effective, a cover of an early Pink Floyd song which suits the duo down to the ground. The rawness of Syd Barrett's Floyd is evident in the sound of the record, not to mention the psychadelia he was so well known and admired for. Segall isn't scared to wear his heart on his sleeve in terms of his influences: he is crafting his own distinctive sound by means of the legacy he is creating for himself at such a young age, and he isn't afraid to thank his peers in the process.
After the Floyd cover comes the final song of the LP, the epic and erratic title track, an odyssey of surfer garage punk rock. The songs is almost split into sections, most of which would fit snugly in a Quentin Tarantino film, and all in all it is a brilliant way to close a rather short but eventful collection of tracks from two fantastic musicians. Reverse Shark Attack is one of two Segall reissues to hit stores this month, the other being his album with The Traditional Fools. Do the right thing and buy both.