Ty Segall is objectively one of the most prolific guitarists working today, putting out more than one release a year between all of his six-and-counting projects. First Taste, Ty’s eleventh studio LP as a solo artist came out today; the newest addition to a monstrous, genre-bending discography.
First Taste feels like it could be its own separate project, à-la 2016’s Emotional Mugger (credited to ‘Ty Segall & the Muggers’) or 2012’s Slaughterhouse (credited to ‘Ty Segall Band’). Segall pursued making a record without a single recorded guitar; instead looking to alternative and international instruments to create a collection of familiarly tight and fierce compositions, but presented with a flair in performance and production that feels unique to First Taste.
As much as the lack of guitar is a notable element in this record, the collaboration between Ty and his Freedom Band is more present than any studio project he’s released under his own name. Every song on this record features at least two members of his current live band and some of the most standout elements of the compositions are thanks to them. If you see them perform this record live, it’s evident that all of the members of the current Freedom Band brought something uniquely complementary to these songs.
Emmett Kelly (the C.I.A) and Charles Moothart (Fuzz, Gøggs, C.F.M.) and Mikal Cronin are familiar names that we’ve heard on Ty’s records for over a decade, but Ben Boye and Shannon Lay (FEELS) make an appearance on most of the record as well. Boye played as a member in the Freedom Band that supported 2018’s Freedom’s Goblin on tour. On this record, he is credited for laying down clav, synth and piano. As for Lay, the newest touring member of the Freedom players, she is credited for background vocals, most notably on “Ice Plant,” where she joins Ty in a nostalgic, a cappella composition that highlights some of Segall’s most sincere and beautiful songwriting. Similarly, Mikal Cronin’s saxophones have a massive role in the rhythm and depth of the sounds on this record. Tracks like “I Worship the Dog,” “Selt Esteem,” “The Fall” and “Whatever” feature some of the most jagged and aggressively soulful brass in Ty’s discography, and tracks like “When I Met My Parents, Pt. 3” and “Radio,” Mikal provides a driving brass bass that makes the recordings sound massively in-depth.
Most of the record sounds full, though, the dynamic range of the recordings really shining and working symbiotically in a way that elevates Ty’s music. Instead of shrieking, fuzzed-out solos on guitar, we have koto and bouzoukis being processed to sound familiar to Ty’s signature treble-blasted guitar, riding atop complex, deep tracks. On a production level, not only is this one of the highest fidelity and maturely mixed records Ty has put out, but the mixing on the album manages to highlight all the best aspects of the instruments used, and truly make this one of the most rhythmically entertaining works Ty has written.
Featuring two drum kits on every track, Ty playing a kit and a variety of percussive instruments mixed stereo left and Charles on a kit on stereo right provides the listener with a fantastically layered trip of a record. Tracks like “Taste," rips the album open with force and rhythmic flair, while “The Arms” and “Lone Cowboys” sound massive, without having a single guitar. It sounds great with headphones, it sounds great on wax and it’s a great record to drive to.
When a new Ty Segall record is announced, it’s never safe to assume where he will take his sound next, but if this record proves anything, it's that there is a signature consistency to the high quality in output that Ty has produced in the last decade, and that as true as his sound is to garage rock. There is a playground of styles, genres, experiments and conceptual endeavors to his discography.
First Taste is a fitting addition, a showcase of talent, innovation, maturity, masterfulness and evidence of the excellent talent Ty surrounds himself with. This is both a bold and subtle step forward from a musician in his prime; a dabble in something new, yet staying true to the artistry that leads him to be one of the most respected guitarists of his generation.
Listen First Taste on all streaming platforms. For Ty Segall tour dates, click here.
Adrian Vega Albela Osorio is a 23-year-old multimedia artist from Mexico based in Los Angeles. His work focuses on documenting the contemporary underground psychedelic music scene in Los Angeles.