By now, you must know Ty Segall is a busy guy, recording something like 96 albums a year between his various projects (that’s actually closer to four or so, but who’s counting). Still, despite having just released a new album of smashing proto-metal with Fuzz, forming several new bands and re-releasing his T. Rex cover albums as a set on Black Friday, he’s also got just a plain ol’ new album on the way (so the next time you’re feeling spread thin … think of Ty Segall and get to work!). Emotional Mugger is due Jan. 22 on Drag City and was announced by sending a VHS tape of the album to various editors. Pitchfork says they got a copy of the 1993 film My Life at the end of the album, as well as Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan on another tape. But no worries if you don’t have a VHS player anymore—the album will be released on all the normal formats. We haven’t heard any songs yet, but apparently an emotional mugger is a “non-verbal and non-physical emotional exchange,” as we’ve gleaned from this faux-educational video starring Segall.
From L.A. and S.F.’s garage rock scenes to Compton’s blossoming rap artists, California artists represented well in 2014. Here are 25 of our favorites from the year, in alphabetical order.
On Worship the Sun, L.A.’s Allah-Las get some dirt on their boots by scuzzing up their sunny surf-garage sound with some rattling guitar solos, stonery grooves (“Buffalo Nickel”) and head-spinning psych-rock tunes (“501-405”).
Cherry Glazerr had the debut record of the year for Burger Records, moving unstoppably on the strength of its garage riffs and singer/guitarist Clementine Creevy’s teenage caterwaul.
There have been tons of records released under the nebulous indie rock genre this year that find new things to say within the confines of rock 'n' roll (The War on Drugs), or throw out the rules while still remaining pleasing to listen to (Ariel Pink). Here are 14 widely appealing records from this year that would make a great gift for just about any indie rock fan.
The War on Drugs’ dreamy country-rock music evokes slow motion, even as its songs move at a sprightly pace. The driving rhythm behind "Under the Pressure" is caked in heavily reverbed guitars and washes of synthesizer, even as real-life guitar solos and Adam Granduciel's vocals come through more clearly than ever before. Similarly "Red Eyes" is like some lost '80s collaboration between The Highwaymen and The Cure, effusing brilliant colors with its bright synths and yelping vocals, but the most stunning moment comes in the minute or so in the middle of the songs when a third of the sound is stripped away, leaving a gorgeous, introspective bridge before Granduciel's yelp brings everything crashing back, while the rhythm stays insistent as always. Lost in the Dream invites repeat listens—atmospheric pieces like "The Haunting Idle" keep things spacious, yet the band comes back for the Bruce Springsteen-vibing "Burning" in the albums latter half. As its title would suggest, it's an album to get lost in. It feels like seeing the entire open road ahead of you, coasting yet seemingly to move in place while the sun sets and middle-of-nowhere stations play Bruce and Tom Petty in the background.
The Mantles – “Memory”
The Mantles’ Long Enough to Leave was a delightful traipse through New Zealand-style jangle pop, and now the Bay Area-based Slumberland band is coming back with a set of new recordings. They’re first coming out with the Memory 7” Dec. 2, featuring two new songs. Listen to the Felt-ish “Memory” now and get swept up in their sweet autumnal strums.
Spaceships – “Good Gradez”
Noisy L.A. duo Spaceships have a new self-titled EP coming out Nov. 4 on New Professor and we’ve got the first song now, called “Good Gradez.” It’s got the same distorted power-pop chords and snarled melodies of their debut LP, Cool Breeze Over the Mountains, with an ever-so-slightly cleaned-up sound to make sure Jessie Waite’s terrific vocals cut through clearly. I for one give this song an A+! Check out the interview I did with the band last week here.
Tim Presley (no relation to Elvis Presley) first hit the music scene as "Timmy Stardust," playing guitar for American hardcore band The Nerve Agents. Known for their chaotic and sometimes violent live performances, The Nerve Agents were a spectacle to behold. After four productive years together, the Agents disbanded. Subsequently, Tim Presley and Nerve Agents drummer Andy Granelli founded the psychedelic rock band Darker My Love. Several years into Darker My Love, Presley started recording songs in his apartment using lo-fi audio gear to capture ideas that would eventually be released under the White Fence moniker. Presley has since managed to compile an impressive solo catalog including Hair (Drag City), the 2012 collaboration with the golden child of garage pop, Ty Segall. After years of recording his music on a 4-track home recorder, Presley made the jump to an actual studio housed in Ty Segall's garage. Despite utilizing a more modern setup, the White Fence aesthetic remains intact. His latest offering, For The Recently Found Innocent (Drag City, 2014), is packed with gems and the White Fence pop style of songwriting is stronger than ever. Presely has a knack for crafting catchy songs that become the soundtrack to people's lives, and from what we've seen so far he has a lot more to share. Tim Presely has definitely become a mainstay in the Los Angeles psychedelic garage rock scene.