Prolific bands can be a mixed bag. There are bands of the likes of Destroyer and of Montreal, i.e. with shining moments of greatness in their discography aside albums that some would consider unlistenable. There are artists like Bonnie Prince Billy, who at his best is earth shattering and at his worst is very good. And then there are groups like Sonic Youth, who have made so many good albums simply out of experience and tenacity. Sonic Youth ass kissing aside, there is really something to be said about an artist who releases a lot of material without any of it feeling like a cash grab. One of those artists is Ty Segall, who this year has already released two albums, one under his own name and another sporting the word band at the end of the Segall moniker. That album in question is Slaughterhouse, and it wears that word band like a dapper hat, the kind you could put a feather in. Of the previously described types of prolific artists, Ty strongly falls into the Bonnie Prince Billy type category, and where Slaughterhouse may not be I See a Darkness, it is worth picking up in an otherwise saturated market of Ty Segall albums.
It would be untrue to call Segall’s approach novel. Certainly there are other acts trying to resurrect the ghost of Raw Power, to salvage the unfiltered debauchery that was The Stooges from the clutches of people who make car commercials. But there is just something appealing about Ty Segall, and at the heart of it, that thing very well may be his prolific writing. What’s the worst thing about Iggy Pop & the Stooges? They don’t make music anymore. What’s the worst thing about Jay Reatard? As selfish as it sounds, it’s that he doesn’t make music anymore. Ty’s power in turn comes from his quick turnout. Frankly I would much rather listen to two albums of half an hour’s length as opposed to having one long album that rambles on for an hour. If you recall The Stooges’ Funhouse comes in at a little over half an hour, and it is that way for a reason. I mean, can you really expect your listener to bang their head for over forty five minutes without them winding up in the hospital?
Back to Slaughterhouse. It is raw of course, but it manages to be raw in all the right ways. For instance the poor production is entirely intentional. Also, there is a certain up in the air quality to the record which comes from Ty’s constant questioning of whether or not the tape was recording. Whether its intentional or not it adds a bit of confusion to the proceedings, making the things jumbled intentions clear. At one point Ty goes as far to yell “F*** this F****** song” and then after the band stops in glorious car crash fashion he says half laughing “We should have kept going, I don’t know what I’m doing”. Having listened to the record a few times now that just seems dishonest, he knows exactly what he is doing, and he can do it well. Segall is one of the few acts in music who manages to be both disorganized and honed in on the sound he wants which is a strange combination and can be fun to listen to. He perhaps is the hardest working slacker in music since J. Mascis, and that is saying something. There is even a ten minute wall of fuzz that marks the end of Slaughterhouse, for what purpose I could not say. Its as if Segall was trying to convey that the entire band had died and no one was left to turn off the amps. In that way Slaughterhouse is an apt name, it’s a record that is out for blood, and very well may get it.