Music

Ty Segall and Mikal Cronin: Reverse Shark Attack

There's something in the garage.


Ty Segall and Mikal Cronin

Reverse Shark Attack

Label: In the Red
US release date: 2013-01-22
UK release date: 2013-02-04
Label website
Artist website
Amazon
iTunes

Ty Segall and Mikal Cronin have both released solo albums incorporating noisy elements, but this collaboration takes those impulses and pushes them further than they have gone so far. Cronin's 2011 self-titled debut, despite containing plenty of thrashy guitar, treads closely to indie-rock expectations and relies on his thin and unschooled voice to carry most of the songs. Ty Segall (formerly of White Fence) has released numerous albums in a short time, and his latest full-length, 2012's Twins, was a raucous affair indeed, incorporating elements of punk, garage rock, and surf music into a satisfying stew. Now these two musicians have released Reverse Shark Attack, a record in which they seem almost to dare each other to take the raunchy garage sound ever further.

Reverse Shark Attack begins with the Iggy-esque squeal and hyperdistorted skronk of "I Wear Black," a satisfying burst of fuzz and caterwauling that lasts 2:14 and is over all too soon. In fact, the first six songs here are less than 2:29 each, with four of them clocking in under two minutes. Short sharp shocks, in other words. This is compensated for somewhat with the last two tunes, which clock in at four and ten minutes respectively. More on them in a minute.

The record's opening salvo consists of a barrage of strong, garagey, raw-throated and extremely low-fi tunes: "I Wear Black", "Drop Dead Baby", "High School" and "Ramona" are all bristling bundles of fuzzy guitar, thumping drums and raspy vocals. There's plenty of reverb on those vocals too, obscuring most of whatever's being said—probably not a huge issue—and the overall tone is muddy and distorted. Guitar solos (or any other kind) are thin on the ground, and the drums sound like they're being played out back in a shed somewhere. The tempos are varied, from the chug-a-lug of the opener to the more frenzied strains of "Doctor Doctor." Then again, with this much distortion, everything sounds more or less frenzied.

About the time you're wishing the songs would last more than, oh, eighty seconds or so, the band hits you with "Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk", a near epic at four minutes. Listeners hoping for a major shift in approach will be disappointed, however; the song shifts rhythm a time or two and there is a brief bridge section in the middle, but otherwise no change in style or approach is evident. It's all thrashing drums, fuzzed-out guitar, and vocal effects; essentially, one of the band's two-minute songs played for four minutes. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. Just sayin'.

The closing track, "Reverse Shark Attack," opens up the template and perhaps points a way forward for the band. (Because really, how many albums full of 90-second tunes called "Bikini Babes" do you need?) "Reverse Shark Attack" is 10 minutes 22 seconds, and immediately opens with a moderate tempo and guitars that are being played rather than strangled to within an inch of their lives. Although still a rocking song, and one that incorporates those vocals layered with effects, it also shows a level of songwriting sophistication that is all the more refreshing in comparison with what has come before. Heck, there are even acoustic-guitar sections, and portions of vocals that are intelligible. And halfway through, it just seems to shut down altogether before starting over again, building to a suitable melt-down of a conclusion.

In sum, then, this is a surprisingly complete album—almost a journey from the primal depth of Stooge-like caveman thumping to, well, something slightly less primordial. Rock and roll will never die, Neil Young says. Here's evidence he might be right.

7


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Music

The 10 Best Experimental Albums of 2015

Music of all kinds are tending toward a consciously experimental direction. Maybe we’re finally getting through to them.

Books

John Lewis, C.T. Vivian, and Their Fellow Freedom Riders Are Celebrated in 'Breach of Peace'

John Lewis and C.T. Vivian were titans of the Civil Rights struggle, but they are far from alone in fighting for change. Eric Etheridge's masterful then-and-now project, Breach of Peace, tells the stories of many of the Freedom Riders.

Music

Unwed Sailor's Johnathon Ford Discusses Their New Album and 20 Years of Music

Johnathon Ford has overseen Unwed Sailor for more than 20 years. The veteran musician shows no sign of letting up with the latest opus, Look Alive.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Jazz Trombonist Nick Finzer Creates a 'Cast of Characters'

Jazz trombonist Nick Finzer shines with his compositions on this mainstream jazz sextet release, Cast of Characters.

Music

Datura4 Travel Blues-Rock Roads on 'West Coast Highway Cosmic'

Australian rockers Datura4 take inspiration from the never-ending coastal landscape of their home country to deliver a well-grounded album between blues, hard rock, and psychedelia.

Books

Murder Is Most Factorial in 'Eighth Detective'

Mathematician Alex Pavesi's debut novel, The Eighth Detective, posits mathematical rules defining 'detective fiction'.

Music

Eyedress Sets Emotions Against Shoegaze Backdrops on 'Let's Skip to the Wedding'

Eyedress' Let's Skip to the Wedding is a jaggedly dreamy assemblage of sounds that's both temporally compact and imaginatively expansive, all wrapped in vintage shoegaze ephemera.

Film

Of Purges and Prescience: On David France's LGBTQ Documentary, 'Welcome to Chechnya'

The ongoing persecution of LGBTQ individuals in Chechnya, or anywhere in the world, should come as no surprise, or "amazement". It's a motif undergirding the history of civil society that certain people will always be identified for extermination.

Television

Padma Lakshmi's 'Taste the Nation' Questions What, Exactly, Is American Food

Can food alone undo centuries of anti-immigrant policies that are ingrained in the fabric of the American nation? Padma Lakshmi's Taste the Nation certainly tries.

Film

Performing Race in James Whale's 'Show Boat'

There's a song performed in James Whale's musical, Show Boat, wherein race is revealed as a set of variegated and contradictory performances, signals to others, a manner of being seen and a manner of remaining hidden, and it isn't "Old Man River".

Music

The Greyboy Allstars Rise Up to Help America Come Together with 'Como De Allstars'

If America could come together as one nation under a groove, Karl Denson & the Greyboy Allstars would be leading candidates of musical unity with their funky new album, Como De Allstars.

Music

The Beatles' 'Help!' Redefined How Personal Popular Music Could Be 55 Years Ago

Help! is the record on which the Beatles really started to investigate just how much they could get away with. The album was released 55 years ago this week, and it's the kick-off to our new "All Things Reconsidered" series.

Music

Porridge Radio's Mercury Prize-Nominated 'Every Bad' Is a Wonderful Epistemological Nightmare

With Every Bad, Porridge Radio seduce us with the vulnerability and existential confusion of Dana Margolin's deathly beautiful lyricism interweaved with alluring pop melodies.

Music

​​Beyoncé's 'Black Is King' Builds Identity From Afrofuturism

Beyoncé's Black Is King's reliance on Afrofuturism recuperates the film from Disney's clutches while reclaiming Black excellence.

Reading Pandemics

Colonial Pandemics and Indigenous Futurism in Louise Erdrich and Gerald Vizenor

From a non-Native perspective, COVID-19 may be experienced as an unexpected and unprecedented catastrophe. Yet from a Native perspective, this current catastrophe links to a longer history that is synonymous with European colonization.

Music

John Fullbright Salutes Leon Russell with "If the Shoe Fits" (premiere + interview)

John Fullbright and other Tulsa musicians decamped to Leon Russell's defunct studio for a four-day session that's a tribute to Dwight Twilley, Hoyt Axton, the Gap Band and more. Hear Fullbright's take on Russell's "If The Shoe Fits".

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.