June 23 2010 03:59 PM

Our takes on new records from Refused, Ty Segall and Kurt Vile

soundwaves-new
Melted by Ty Segall


Refused

The Shape of Punk to Come (Deluxe Edition)
(Epitaph)

8.8

Goes well with: Born Against, Nation of Ulysses, Hoover

Although they were certain enough to proclaim, in a song title on this seminal 1998 release, that “Refused are Fuckin Dead,” it turns out it's not true after all. Or, at the very least, this reissue / live CD / documentary three-disc edition proves that the Swedish hardcore group's third and final release still has some life. And, really, that's the way it should be.

Shape was never wholly original—it copped plenty of late '80s / early '90s DIY punk and hardcore sounds. Nor was it truly groundbreaking—not only did it fail to successfully predict the future of punk; things actually became less eclectic and more pop-oriented after its release. But the record took the band's unforgiving hardcore and uniquely fused it with the occasional insertion of atmospherics, jazz and electronic blips. The result was an incredibly successful, underappreciated, face-melting epic, and it deserved another go-round.

Add the fact that it was constructed on the Scandinavian Peninsula by a quartet of fanatical, in-fighting socialists who broke up after its completion, and you have the makings of a minor masterpiece. “Can I scream?!” singer Dennis Lyxzén famously shrieks on “New Noise.” Of course you can, Dennis. Again and again.

—Scott McDonald


Ty Segall

Melted
(Goner)

7.5

Goes well with: Sic Alps, Thee Oh Sees, Moonhearts

Ty Segall is back with a new record close on the heels of last year's Lemon, but if you're looking for no-frills garage rock, then Melted might leave you with a sour taste.

The distorted guitars are anchored with bottomed-out bass lines and muddy beats. They're perfect platforms for Segall's vocals, which have always been moody and expressive. But the tempo here is neither brash nor bratty. He's still got that signature snotty sound, but it's subdued. Segall's in your living room, not your face.

“Girlfriend,” one of the more upbeat numbers, features fuzzed-out guitars and warbling vocals and relies on a clap track to get the song off the ground. “Mrs.,” a bluesy lament to the Mississippi River, is folksy, ghostly and seriously bad-ass (oddly prescient, too, in light of the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico).

“Imaginary Person” is probably the most dynamic song here and has all the elements that make good garage tunes great, but it's the exception, not the norm.

Segall seems poised to fill Jay Reatard's shoes in the most-prolificsinger/songwriter category. A list of records he's been involved in during the past year would fill more space than this review allows. But since joining Sic Alps in '09, Segall's songs have tilted toward the psychedelic. As anyone who has ever made a grilled-cheese sandwich while stoned can attest, you can only melt something so long before it burns.

—Jim Ruland


Kurt Vile

Square Shells EP
(Matador)

7.8

Goes well with: Tom Petty, Guided By Voices, Robert Johnson

Sometimes it takes several listens to get a proper feel for an album, and, at first, Square Shells didn't seem to have much soul. Given away for free on Matador's website, it felt suspiciously like a stopgap between Vile's brilliant Childish Prodigy and the Philly rambler's forthcoming full-length—a series of throwaway tunes mashed together with no rhyme or reason but to simply serve as new material.

But Vile is someone who doesn't have throwaway tunes, part of his appeal being that each track could easily have been culled from one endless, reverb-drenched session. On Square Shells, the songs aren't quite as submerged in the same watery effects as before, which may give some insight that Vile's opening up a little, like on “Invisibility: Nonexistent,” where his zoned-out guitar is coupled with drum-machine clicks and analog synths in a way that resembles The Beta Band's Three EPs.

Take “I Wanted Everything” for example, which might be his most naked song to date. Poignant lines like “I wanted everything / but I only got most of it,” and “I'm gonna sit around until I get wise / I ain't never gonna go to work no more / 'Cause I was an old man and that's all I ever did,” reveal that Vile's truly living out his dreams. If anything, Square Shells shows his essence more than any of his other releases, even if it takes a little more effort to find it.

—Todd Kroviak

Calendar

  • Visit one of the 70 participating restaurants, bars, coffeehouses and nightclubs in town on this night and 25 to 50 percent of sales will go to local HIV/AIDS services and prevention programs. 
  • Anthony Bernal and Chris Ward, who are vying to replace Todd Gloria on the San Diego City Council, will discuss urban issues, such as parking, homelessness and new developments
  • The new exhibition designed by Dave Ghilarducci is made from hundreds of rolls of packing tape and bound together by layers of plastic shrink-wrap. Visitors can navigate their way through cocoon-like passageways...
  • The renowned Mexican black and white photographer presents an exhibition exploring the principal themes within three groups: "Bestiarium"," Fantastic Women" and "Silent Natures."
  • Presented by Pacific Arts Movement, the sixth annual mini film fest features 14 film programs from 10 countries that includes everything from docs to romantic tearjerkers. See website for full lineup and...
  • The San Diego County Bike Coalition hosts this monthly bike-in happy hour event to get biking residents involved in their communities and discuss bike projects planned for that specific community
  • Debunk some of the stereotypes surrounding cannibalism at this new exhibition that takes a hands-on approach to the subject. Includes video games and interactive activities where patrons will have to decide...
  • So Say We All's monthly storytelling night features stories about those jobs we took because we had to take a job. Featured readers include Allison Gauss, Annmarie Houghtailing, Cecile Estelle, and more
  • Artists from the all-abstracts group show will talk about their work and techniques. Artists include Edwin Nutting, Danielle Nelisse, Leah Pantea, Lenore Simon, and more
See all events on Thursday, Apr 28