Release Date: Aug 20, 2013
Record label: Drag City
Sleeper, Ty Segall’s latest and darkest full-length to date, simmers in alien territory. There’s no motor oil, no sex wax. Here, he lassoes together nods to Syd Barrett, Neil Young and freezing, opaque desert nights. There’s aging cowboy sages, deception and, well, a lot of blood—both crusty and hot, fresh.
As a recent promotional tour video pointed out, Sleeper's title can be seen as a comment on Ty Segall's own prolificacy. But it also has a deeper resonance. Last December, the singer and guitarist's adopted father died after a long battle with cancer, and shortly after, Segall stopped speaking to his mother. (He doesn't go into detail in interviews, saying only "she did some bad stuff.") Speaking to NPR, he called this period of his life a "weird, intense time," and Sleeper is a document of what came out of him in that moment.
It’s no original story that Ty Segall is an insanely prolific purveyor of recorded music—that much has been well documented. What does ring unique about Sleeper, his sixth solo record in five years (plus three collaborative releases), is Segall’s newfound ability to—save one fleeting moment of weakness—curb his fuzz addiction, cold turkey. Acoustically driven and relatively droopy, the apropos Sleeper may or may not be a vaguely allegorical concept album, in the vein of mythic mid ’70s folk rock, which pits a class known as “sleepers” against the “keepers.” Think Aqualung on codeine, sans flute, swapping vagrants for couch potatoes.
Most ink spilled about Ty Segall takes care to point out how young he is—and further, how being around him is like being around a restless teenager drawing band logos in his Trapper Keeper. The notion of changing or reinventing oneself is inextricably tied to youth. At a certain point, we lose momentum or interest in revising how we present ourselves and our ideas.
The thoughts of Ty Segall often come out via a distorted, echoing filter, drenched in aggressive noise and the West coast rocker's signature wail. But, on latest solo release Sleeper, Segall channels his emotions in a different manner: acoustic guitar. This isn't because the songwriter has run out of steam — Segall released three albums last year and Sleeper is one of two records coming out in 2013.
If there was ever any question whether Ty Segall was at his creative peak, Sleeper, his tenth studio album in five years, should put any doubts to rest. Perhaps his biggest departure, this outing abandons his usual style of quick and scuzzy lo-fi rock tunes, and finds the artist dipping his brush straight into a neo-psych palette of dreamy acoustic songs firmly indebted to the late '60s British folk recordings of Pink Floyd, David Bowie, and the Kinks. Minus the muscle, Segall's songs still manage to pack an emotional powerful punch due to a thick undercurrent of sentimentality and nostalgia.
It’s understandable that Ty Segall’s calling card to this point has been the prolific amount of work that he’s cranked out the past few years in the vanguard of a vibrant neo-garage scene. But you could argue that the sheer volume of his discography—in his case, releasing only one album under his own name in 2013 seems like slacking—has overshadowed an underappreciated sense of variety to his music. So just as Segall has never taken the time to rest on his laurels, you also won’t catch him repeating himself, a feat all the more prodigious considering how much music he’s put out there in such a short amount of time.
One man music machine Ty Segall is at it again. At the rate he spurts out records, either on his own or with one of his many other side projects, like White Fence, Sic Alps or The Ty Segall Band, he could probably keep the entire lo-fi scene afloat by himself. After dropping three LPs in 2012, including his lauded lonesome effort Twins, he’s back less than a year later with a ninth (which, for a guy who’s in his mid-twenties isn’t too shabby at all) full-length studio record under his solo moniker, Sleeper.
Ty Segall has a sort of musical A.D.H.D. Whether he’s starting a new band, collaborating with friends, or recording solo, Segall juggles multiple projects simultaneously and contributes songwriting to each. He stretches himself thin, but never to the point where it diminishes the quality of his work. If anything, he has too many good ideas — a hyper-creative prolificacy that results in a rough average of three full-length albums a year.
Is Ty Segall the savior of garage? Last fall, Ty Segall played a show with Thee Oh Sees in Richmond, VA, and as he was packing his equipment, someone still out of breath from moshing rushed toward the stage and leaned against the edge, shouting as best as he could to tell Segall that he had saved garage. If I ever have to explain garage or explain why I like garage, I usually talk about how it’s visceral and chaotic and insane. Music driven by electric guitars and punctuated by shrieks.
By the end of last year, it seemed like San Fransiscan garage rocker Ty Segall was unstoppable. At just 26, he'd spent five years in an almost constant cycle of recording and touring his brand of lo-fi revivalist rock. A feat that he crowned in 2012 with the astonishing release of three albums, which - even by own his enthusiastic standards - seemed an exercise in fearless creative excess.
You could never call San Francisco’s Ty Segall lazy. Since he started recording under his own name in 2008 there have been six albums, handfuls of 7”s and tours galore. But the news that Sleeper would be his only LP in 2013 came as a surprise (there were three associated albums in 2012), and its contents are more surprising still. Sleeper is largely acoustic, which is not in itself shocking – plenty of Segall’s records have hinted that this is how his usual face-shredding mix of garage and sludge is initially created.
It's hard to imagine Ty Segall taking a lunch break, much less sleeping. The ravenously prolific San Francisco garage rocker released three albums of bleary guitar dementia in 2012 alone. But his first full-length in nine whole months is virtually all acoustic, pushing his love of pimply Sixties squall into psychedelic folk that's just as raw as his noise records.
Last year was a vintage one for Ty Segall, when three albums hit in quick succession. First, the trippy, hippy Floydisms of ‘Hair’, recorded in collaboration with fellow San Franciscan White Fence; then the satanic space-punk mayhem of ‘Slaughterhouse’, recorded with the hard-rockin’ Ty Segall Band; and finally ‘Twins’, a fuzz-soaked collection of garage-psych that installed the muss-haired Segall as an icon for a New Psychedelic California. All that, plus a bunch of shows that felt like Nirvana back from the dead in tie-dye and kaftans, set to punch a third eye right in the middle of your forehead.‘Sleeper’, though, comes with a heavy backstory.
Last year the prolific Californian guitarist Ty Segall put out three albums. Another one is due later this year, under the band name Fuzz. It's hard to believe Segall ever sleeps. Having carved out a niche playing wild but catchy garage rock, Sleeper, his sixth album under his own name, finds Segall playing acoustic guitar, dealing with the death of his father and his broken relationship with his mother.
Ty Segall - “Sleeper” (Live on KEXP) Drag City’s promotional videos for garage-rock revivalist Ty Segall’s Sleeper paint Segall as a dozy slacker, a narcoleptic doofus who falls asleep in gardens and who needs to be slapped awake in order to tour. But that belies his fastidiously protestant work ethic: At just 26, Segall’s already released a half-dozen solo full-lengths, and even more collaborative efforts. Last year alone, Segall released three records, the last of which, Twins, was a near-perfect confluence of his variegated interests: skuzzy garage, hyperactive bubblegum punk, British flower child psych.
The PR that came with ‘Sleeper’ stresses this will be Ty Segall’s only album in 2013. It seems like a strange point to make since most artists barely manage an album every two years, but last year Segall released three, one with one of his side projects, one with his touring band and a solo effort. The jist of it seems to be ‘Sleeper’ is a fairly solo effort, though there are other musicians on the record, but is more a sonic exploration of Segall’s mind.
Twenty-six year-old Ty Segall has recorded seventy-three albums in an unparalleled burst of creativity over the last seven years. Not really, it just seems like it. Mr. Segall is an artist more concerned with prolificacy and expression than perfection. He’s yet to make a great album, but his ….
I’m not sure if this is the result of some kind of vision our boy Ty had a few months back, but Sleeper is a little unexpected. Not unexpected in the sense that it’s happening (because we all know Ty Segall churns out albums like a teen picking zits) but unexpected in the sense that it doesn’t really sound like a Ty Segall album. It sounds like the Violent Femmes as senior citizens mixed with Fleetwood Mac.