Wasted Shirt’s debut album opens with a piercingly loud “HEYYYY” and a blast of guitar, followed by repeated screams of “I’ll give my voice to see you again” over drumming that approximates the sensation of an epinephrine injection straight into the heart. And that’s just the first 60 seconds.
Featuring Brian Chippendale of noise rock duo Lightning Bolt on drum/vocals and Ty Segall on guitar/bass/harmonizer/vocals, Wasted Shirt is a legitimate breath of fresh air, like the kind you feel on your face when you stand in front of a giant stack of amps. The album, Fungus II, is just over 30 minutes of loud and surprisingly catchy tracks which synthesize the aesthetic qualities of both Chippendale and Segall. Most of the songs don’t have lyrics, or at least any that make much sense, but that doesn’t matter. These songs are so damn good.
The hilariously titled “Zeppelin 5” gains traction with the repeated squeal of a guitar riff that threatens to become incredibly annoying but never actually does. It then morphs into what sounds like air raid sirens and a sprightly chorus of “da da da.” There’s no good reason why this should be so utterly joyous and uplifting, and yet that’s the effect. All the while, Chippendale’s drumming defies logic: sharp, tight and unbelievably fast.
“Fist Is My Ward” finds Segall alternating between gravel-voiced mode and hallucinatory gibberish. His guitar howls like a demon unearthed from hell, while all the time Chippendale just pounds away. (Seriously, how does the dude not have a stroke playing the drums so fast?)
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In “Harsho,” Segall’s wailing guitar fights for dominance with his bottomless basslines, while he spits out things like “There’s blood on the wheel / There’s blood on his seat / There’s blood on the carpet that we brought down the street.” The effect, especially at the end of the song, when chord progressions and noodling take over, is downright chilling.
While Segall has never been an artist one could accuse of being sedate (see also Fuzz and GØGGS), in Wasted Shirt, he comes across as gleefully unrestrained, especially on a track like “Double the Dream.” Chainsaw guitars! Screamed lyrics! Flange pedals! Following up this slice of crazy with the acoustic intro of “The Purple One” is an unexpected and brilliant strategy. With its repeated chorus of “re-flection!” and a reinterpretation of the acoustic intro with electric guitars towards the end, it’s the second best song on the album.
The best (probably… it’s hard to choose) is “Four Strangers Entered the Cement at Dusk,” a menacing assault of slow and heavy drum beats and sludgy, distorted bass. Halfway through its seven minutes, it goes off the rails a bit, with shouts of “this is your fault!” and some shredding, but the menace returns soon enough, ending with what sounds like a car horn being stuck in the on position after an accident.
Segall fans should no longer be surprised by his frequent and inspired collaborations with other bands; after all, he is perfectly capable of creating amazing work under his own name. Yet every one of these projects has been impressive and inspiring. Fungus II is another reminder that not only is Segall one of the most hard-working and talented artists of the last decade, but also a genuine musical omnivore.
Fungus II was released on February 28 through Famous Class.
Leslie Hatton (@popshifter) is a Fannibal, an animal lover, a music maven and a horror movie junkie. She created and managed Popshifter from 2007 – 2017, and also contributes to Biff Bam Pop, Diabolique Magazine, Everything Is Scary, Modern Horrors, Rue Morgue and more.