Before we settled on the “Music That Made Bolan Boogie” CD to go with this month’s issue, we toyed with a compilation of new, glam-influenced music.
Miles Johnson, one of our designers, has been talking for a while now about a distinct glam strain appearing in American garage rock, and songs by Nobunny, King Tuff and The Smith Westerns, among others, would’ve almost added up to a decent CD. The cornerstone could have been something from “Ty Rex”, an EP of fuzzed-out Bolan covers that came out this spring on the Goner label.
“Ty Rex”, as the title lets slip, is the work of Ty Segall, a Bay Area workaholic who last year made a terrific album called “Melted”, planted with enough tunes amidst the ramalam to suggest he might be the next garage rock poster boy, after Kurt Vile, to step up an indie league or two. This summer’s Segall album, “Goodbye Bread”, doesn’t quite do the job, being a little more Lennonish and dislocated than might have been expected.
Segall moves fast, though, and the very latest recordings that he’s been involved with – both involving a new name to me, Mikal Cronin – are pretty fantastic. First, and most salient, Segall and Cronin have collaborated on a couple of exuberantly feral David Bowie covers, “Fame” and “Suffragette City”. As is now tradition for this column, these tracks are only available as an extremely limited edition on an arcane format – part of a book of flexidiscs titled “Castle Face Presents Group Flex”. Assuming that, like us, you don’t actually own this already rare artefact, it’s worth checking out the Segall/Cronin jams on Youtube (at http://bit.ly/p9Y1EG and http://bit.ly/pdPTPW).
Better still, though, there’s Mikal Cronin’s self-titled album, produced by Segall and out this month on the Trouble In Mind imprint. Segall appears to come from Orange County, California, and also serves with a straight-up garage punk band, The Moonhearts (their own self-titled album from last year, on Tic Tac Totally, is good fun). “Mikal Cronin” is no less exciting, but draws from a much wider range: the very first seconds are filled with a capella harmonies indebted to The Beach Boys’ “Our Prayer”.
Trouble In Mind’s crib notes for hacks reference The Everly Brothers and Nilsson, which initially seem a bit far-fetched, but repeated plays genuinely reveal a dazed, jangling melodicism. When the feedback dies down on, say, “Situation” or “Again And Again”, a real sweetness cuts through, while “Get Along” somehow reminds me of both the Everlys and the Nirvana of “About A Girl”. The thumping piano and home-baked grandeur of “The Way Things Go” is rather Nilsson-ish, for sure, and there’s even a whistling solo on “Hold On Me”, for what it’s worth.
Not much glam, mind. If you want to check out Miles’ putative garage rock/glam scene, he’s pulled together a Spotify playlist at http://bit.ly/q2uf4T. Have a play and let us know what you think.