Prolific yet unpredictable, Ty Segall is a standard bearer for the most recent group of artists who have managed to resuscitate garage rock and punk, genres that some thought had already been mined of all their freshness by several previous such returns. The Ty Segall Band’s In the Red release Slaughterhouseis one of three recordings on which Segall appears in 2012: he also recorded Twinsunder his own name via Drag City and Hair with White Fences.
There’s little doubt that Iggy Pop and the Stooges are patron saints of Segall and company. The singer’s throaty cries also channel Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Eric Burdon in places. Yes, he has collected the right records; but Segall’s isn’t living the garage punk experience secondhand. The seemingly restless creativity that fuels his prolific streak also inhabits the nervous energy and chaotic spirit of Slaughterhouse, Twins, and Hair. All three recordings exude a swaggering ebullience that can’t be faked or finessed by hype proliferators.
On Hidden, their sophomore release, These New Puritans incorporate orchestral instruments alongside synthesizers and driving post-punk rhythms to create an unusually hybridized sound palette. But adding choir, woodwinds, and brass to the mix has done nothing to dilute the urgency of TNP’s songs. They don’t incorporate them in a suave, neoclassical fashion. Indeed, Jack Barnett’s classical chops were honed in a month-long crash course in notation. Instead they appear in angular block-like formations, glaciers a-swirl in a maelstrom sea of pop signatures. Sounds affects – including a sample of knives being sharpened – are also liberally incorporated, as are out-of-the-box dance-hall beats and synthetic loops.
But the severity of these incorporations suits Hidden, an album more about stark juxtapositions rather than finely nuanced transitions. It also manages to blunt any notion that the use of classical forces or filmic effects on a rock record necessitates sonic domestication. Quite the contrary, this is a woolly and wild, yet eminently gratifying, recording.
A trio of Seattle self-starters, Motorik creates boisterous songs that combine art rock with dance-punk. Theirs is an incendiary rhythmic approach, featuring cannonading percussion, syncing downbeat ‘thwacks’ with bass guitar punctuations, and retro New Wave-style guitar riffs. Meanwhile, bassist Sio also supplies hearty vocals, indulging the occasional wail amid staccato outbursts.
“Utopia Parkway” is a standout; Motorik creates a mathy groove with danceability at its core – despite multiple layers of simultaneous activity. As a title,”Box of Knives” has an attitudinal snarl to it. But musically, it’s much more than just ‘tude; a combination of sharpened guitar ostinati, tight-knit rhythmic underpinning, and a bellicose post-punk refrain makes for a substantial lead-off single.
True, the band gets a bit giddy on “Robert Palmer;” but one can forgive a few over-the-top synth flourishes and yelps in service of such exuberant rocking! Indeed, just when you think that the songs have hit a predictable stride, “It’s Just Sugar” throws a few off-kilter bass-lines, unexpected keyboard harmonies, and a noise-based guitar break into the mix – all reminders that Motorik is a band capable of providing pleasant surprises.