Reviewed by: Max Miller
Garage rock mastermind Ty Segall first began showing a penchant for stoner rock in earnest on 2012’s Slaughterhouse. The album, credited to the Ty Segall Band (featuring Charles Moothart on guitar), included the cut “Wave Goodbye,” which revealed Segall’s Sabbathian aspirations. A year later, Fuzz — a straight-up stoner rock band with Moothart and bassist Roland Cosio accompanying Segall, now on drums — released their debut self-titled LP. Now, with the Meatbodies’ Chad Ubovich replacing Cosio on low-end duties, the group has released their follow-up, fittingly titled II.
When it comes to stoner rock, it’s easy to lose oneself in analysis of grooves and guitar tones, bass riffs and bong hits. To be honest, and I say this with all love for the genre, it’s a rather formulaic beast. So, rather than bore you to tears by inspecting all of II’s components like a mechanic taking apart an old car, I figured I ought to give the record the real litmus test. A good stoner rock album must be enjoyable while the listener is chemically altered. Cannabis is the obvious drug of choice, but as notorious PBR-abusers Red Fang have proven time and again, raucous riffage should also be stimulating to beer-drinkers and hell-raisers.
As such, with the aid of a little Bombay Gin, a few Shiner Bocks and a couple Fat Tires, my buddy Nick Halages and I decided to give II a listen, track-by-track, to see how it jived with our inebriated states.
Time Collapse II/The 7th Terror
Halages: “It’s almost derivative in that perfect way. It takes the conventions and kind of f*cks with them a little bit. I like that.”
Miller: “The dynamics are really on-point. It doesn’t stay monotonous.”
H: “It was more exciting than the first. I expected it to elevate more, but it kept at just enough of a pace that it kept me peppy.”
M: “The change in vocals really made me think of Cream, even more so than I already was because of the whole power trio dynamic.”
Let It Live
H: “This reminds me of ‘Pictures of Matchstick Men’ a lot. It’s fuzzy in that serotonin-rush kind of way. F*ck, I need to download this album.”
M: “That bass intro was really just right — the way it lead expertly into the super-hooky vocal line. It reminds me of Ty Segall in his prime.”
Louie (the dog): *stares deeply into your eyes as if to tell you he’s feeling this*
H: “Thank you for suggesting I get drunk tonight. This one was trying a little too hard to be experimental. I don’t know if it was the quality of the music or the quality of our speakers, but it sounded a little canned. The whole album sounds almost as if they know there’s a richness of tone they’re refusing to allow themselves to get into. For a band calling themselves Fuzz, that’s about as un-fuzzy as it gets.”
M: “This is really heavy in an almost generic sense, but it just gives any conversation a ‘Dazed and Confused’ kind of vibe, because you just seem really down-to-earth when you’re chatting over its heaviness but still kind of ignoring it. That outro is tight, though.”
Bringer of Light
H: “I’m such a fan of this type of music that I’m still willing to listen to it when it’s a little generic. Because you’re always applying something of you to the convention. This feels a little spacier, like they’re pioneering something. There’s that excitement of discovery. This is like the peak of the acid trip.”
H: “See, this is exactly where the album’s beginning to peak if we consider this as the concept of an acid trip. They’re building tension, and they’re creating movement within that tension to move within the mode they’ve already set forth.”
M: “This one’s grippingly heavy right from the start. This is the most distinguished song I feel like I’ve heard so far.”
H: “It’s like you’re now through the jungle and this is the Vietnam, ‘This Is the End’-style trek. You realize you’re only halfway through this trip, but that becomes very sacred. You have a duty to continue onward.”
M: “Any song that’s starting off with a good bass groove is hitting me better. But there’s a faux-Indian vibe to the guitars before the heavy riff comes in that rubs me wrong. But after that, I really enjoy it. The end riff is killer.”
H: “See, we had the climbing and the journey and now we’ve reached that place. This is very victorious. It’s like, ‘I’m here. I’m present. I’m in the moment.’ It’s exciting in a way. It feels like they’re trying to have fun with it. It has a very lighthearted feel. There’s a kind of acceptance of the journey. ‘I’m so happy to have been there. I’m so happy the universe brought me to this point.’ And then there’s the guitar solo like it’s speaking directly to you.”
H: “It’s very punky. I used to go to house shows in Savannah, and there would just be sh*t like this. And people would be feeling it. They’d get off on the triumphant vibe of the other songs and now they’re going as hard as they can. They’re tripping on their own adrenaline, if you will, but it’s okay, because they know when to end it.”
Jack the Maggot
H: “They’re masters of the hook. Every song I’ve heard has started very strongly. But they’re also masters of the abrupt ending, so every song leaves you wanting more. They’ve managed to add an epic quality to each song that’s unique to each song, but similarly exciting.”
M: “I really do like when they use the eerie vocal harmonies, which is definitely Segall territory. That’s somewhere where a lot of stoner rock bands fall short.”
H: “Crunchy as f*ck. Very garage rock-y. It’s like rock candy — it’s just jagged enough to create that excitement.”
M: “The vocals remind of Uncle Acid. And just the driving nature overall, and the hookiness.”
[At this point we strayed into a half-hour conversation about the state of living matter and life in general, as well as whether punk rock better expressed the vibe of uppers or downers. In the end, we agreed that punk rock, if nothing else, is really most sincerely dead.]
H: “Already I can tell they’re giving less of a f*ck as they go on. I can tell they were just like, ‘F*ck it, let’s just have a good time.’”
M: “This kind of makes me feel like they’re reaching for filler material to make this a double-album.”
Silent Sits the Dust Bowl
H: “Oh! What did I say? Didn’t I say two or three songs later there would be a tapering-off of sorts? It’s like they spent all their energy and now they just need to be at peace. It makes me feel like I want to complete this journey with them.”
H: “See, they’re not gonna’ be able to keep this up for fourteen minutes, because I’m not going to be able to handle fourteen minutes of this.”
M: “*Ace Ventura voice* Fourteen minutes is too much!”
Midway through the final track, we had more or less lost interest, but it is a double-LP. All things considered, it held our focus well through the increasing haze of late-night, couch potato drunkenness. While less concise a statement than their debut, II ultimately did exactly what a record of its genus should: It rocked, it spurred on conversations about hippy-dippy garbage and it didn’t make us want to get up and put on something else. Though, to be fair, we probably couldn’t have if we tried.
Fuzz will perform in Philly at Underground Arts on Saturday, November 14.