If you have ever wondered what it would sound like to cut and paste every major development and style of garage rock into one record, Ty Segall and White Fence’s Hair might be your answer. There are elements of the Standells, the Sonics, 80s retro (and slightly country) Paisley Undergrounders Green on Red—and even recent psych rockers like the Crystal Stilts but with a unique collage-y quality that is all their own.
Like all good garage rock, Hair gets straight to the point and sticks to it; sort of. These songs (and there are only eight of them) are short and two-to-three minutes long, tops. But really, this is a strength, sometimes psych rock can blather on-and-on. Hair’s psych comes from its genuinely stoned feel and easy-going vocals not from monotonous jams. To some degree, you hear something familiar in every part. What’s interesting here is how the various parts intersect. I’m not sure Mr. Seagall and Mr. Fence (Tim Presley) would like this comparison, but there is something vaguely Menomena-ish about the pastiche-ish quality this record has. It’s almost as if the choruses and the verses have been recorded separately and then haphazardly sewn together. However, it is very exciting.
These dudes have a gift for juxtaposition: lo fi casualness mixed with fairly meticulous sound reproduction is genius. The tones on this record are straight Seeds-era L.A. garage—fuzzed out scuzzy leads, messily-strummed acoustic guitars with anxious and unaffected drums make Hair a “Nuggets”–lover’s dream. Many of the vocals sound like they are recorded with a shitty Radio Shack mic, but many of the guitars sound so similar to classic fuzzed out 60s classic, they almost sound sampled. It’s quite an accomplishment.
“Easy Ryder” is a marriage of straight up 60s surf rock and a Velvet Underground monotone sing-along. About halfway through the song, it stops being “Surfing Bird” and becomes a bored So Cal teen chant. “Scissor People” is a British Invasion-style rave-up, but then turns into 10 or so sampled one chord jams cut together with no attempt to make it sound actually joined. It’s both crazy and awesome. “The Black Glove/Rag,” sounds something like a Plastic Ono Band throw-away with dreamy strummed guitar and effortless Lennon-style mugging. It’s really quite charming. Then all of a sudden, (I guess the “Rag” portion) the song turns upside down on itself and sounds like a meth-fueled White Album meets Abby Road jam. I kinda love the irreverence of making the record they want to make and not trying to make Hair sound “the way normal records sound”.
All in all, Hair is quite an accomplishment—a true maverick of a record, influenced by many but a copy of none.
Listen to some of Ty Segall’s and White Fences collaborative new tunes, here!