by Mike LeSuer (@zebraabraham)
When a friend recently asked me if I’d heard the new Ty Segall album yet I told him I was still digesting 2014’s Manipulator, but was intrigued by the clips circulating online of an operatic Segall terrorizing Letterman’s audience with spooky baby motifs and a savage—and mostly familiar—backing band. After clarifying that Emotional Mugger was now two Ty albums ago, my buddy proceeded to remind me that Segall has since dropped four EPs, two compilations, and a collaborative album with Charles Moothart as GØGGS—and kindly broke the news to me that David Letterman has been off the air for over two years.
There are many things Ty Segall does well, as consistently proven on a number of occasions every year, from emulating T. Rex to a capital Tee to freaking out network talk show audiences. He’s almost more well known for his prolificacy than he is for the music he creates, or the gamut his career so recklessly runs. Because of this, it may be hard to defend all of the choices he’s made throughout his decade-and-change discography, but most of his followers conjure up a usually-unsettling portrait adorning any one of his albums’ covers as the record for which all of his other music is in reference to: the Definitive Ty. For me, that album is Slaughterhouse.
With Warm Slime ebbing, Moonhearts waning, and Arabia Mountain barely visible in the rear view, the garage rock landscape was primed for Segall’s last reckless romp before the domesticated lethargy of Sleeper (in true Segall fashion, it wound up being his penultimate reckless romp, birthing the fiery Twins a few months later—not to mention beginning a new Sabbath-indebted legacy with Fuzz two months after Sleeper). Teaming up with noted boys Mikal Cronin and Moothart (two thirds of Moonhearts) and unsung heroine Emily Rose Epstein, Segall somehow eluded the dreaded “supergroup” denomination with the quartet’s single release as Ty Segall Band.
Slaughterhouse was unleashed in the summer of 2012, striking terror into the hearts of listeners from the opening throes of “Death” and subsisting through the droning anarchism of the ten-minute closer, “Fuzz War.” What Segall dubbed his “evil, evil space rock” album felt more like a Hadean secretion torching Earth’s crust and blazing everything in its path—Fun House LPs included. We’re reminded how raw garage rock can be with every “puh” Segall enunciates reverberating through his microphone, while the album’s irreverence to classic punk is amplified by his sneering “bye byes” on “Wave Goodbye” and the apathetic introduction of Beefheart’s “Diddy Wah Diddy” to a hard rock lexicon aggressive enough to soundtrack a Grand Theft Auto (famously: “fuck this fucking song!”). The additional bonus track included with the reissue, “Swag,” adds a stellar exclamation point to the record, capable of blending in anywhere on the tracklist or serving as a quick-burning encore following the ten minute denouement of feedback warfare.
Revisiting the album five years later in anticipation of its reissue, it occurred to me that these aren’t just some of the best tracks of Segall’s career, but also some of the most iconic cuts from a bygone era of garage punk. As “Tell Me What’s Inside Your Heart” comes to a screeching halt to make way for the ominous bass and shrieking guitar intro of “Wave Goodbye,” I recall listening to Speaking in Tongues in its entirety for the first time a few years ago, surprised to hear all my favorite Talking Heads songs I grew up listening to individually playing back to back with little unfamiliar intermission. Likewise, over time each track on Slaughterhouse has solidified as an invaluable component of Segall’s oeuvre, which bind themselves seamlessly together as a cohesive, jarring experience.
Ty Segall’s a difficult artist to keep up with, and it can be easy to get lost or become disinterested in his discography with so many possible entry and exit points. It’s important, though, to remember that albums like Slaughterhouse are in the bag at this point—canonized artifacts of a turbulent moment in revivalist punk history. Even if this isn’t your Definitive Ty record, it’s worth a revisit in a time when we’re not overwhelmed with abrasive Bay Area soundalikes feeding off the energy of Segall’s scene. I imagine this to be the iteration of Ty Segall the next generation of punk revivalism will mercilessly desiccate forty years from now—and I imagine it’ll be the honor of a lifetime for Segall.