- by Zach Johnson (Texacaliago) Rating:8 Release Date:2016-07-01 Label: In the Red
GØGGS may sound like a scary new venereal disease that you may need to worry about, but have no fear, it’s actually just the latest band put together by the ever prolific and consistently impressive Ty Segall.
But unlike most other Ty Segall-affiliated bands, GØGGS feels different, mainly because unlike Fuzz or The Muggers for example, Mr. Segall is basically completely absent vocally on this album, leaving the frontman duties to the very capable and menacing Chris Shaw from Ex-Cult. Mr. Shaw has somewhat made a name for himself in the underground hardcore punk scene as a formidable frontman in his own right, and when paired with the more focused, propulsive, and generally larger sound that Segall & Co bring to the table, the results are viciously infectious on GØGGS .
The actual style and sound of GØGGS strongly recalls the generally malevolent vibe found on Segall’s last album Emotional Mugger, and given the collaborators on this project (Mikal Cronin, Cory Hanson, etc) it’s easy to see why. Both albums were apparently recorded around the same time last year, and GØGGS is similarly bathed in the same sleazy, thin, depraved fuzz that characterized Emotional Mugger. The main difference here, again, is Chris Shaw, whose aggressive/hostile delivery adds a considerably more muscular feeling to the proceedings on this album. While Segall played the role of the derisive provocateur on Emotional Mugger, flaunting and taunting decadence at every turn, Shaw comes across as the brutish/destructive catalyst to that idea, eager to accelerate the chaos and burn everything to the ground.
And he does a pretty good job of that on GØGGS, as the majority of the album is an adrenaline-fueled exercise of hardcore acid-punk that’s heavy on pounding rhythms, propulsive riffs, and a menacingly infectious energy. Most all the songs here feature that style of attack, and it’s most impressive on the explosive, gut-punch of an opener “Falling In”, the unhinged “Shotgun Shooter” and “Needle Trade Off”, as well as the more honed (but no less powerful) tracks like the thumping “Smoke the Wurm” and “She Got Harder”, the latter of which sounds like a back-handed slap to the face (with brass knuckles of course).
But like virtually all of Segall’s bands, there’s also enough weirdness in the mix here to keep you on your toes, like the dissonant guitars clashing throughout “Assassinate the Doctor” and the somewhat industrial-flavored unsettling noise experiment “Final Notice”. The title track actually recalls old-school QOTSA in its opening minute, before launching into the type of blasting mid-tempo stomp that characterizes most of the other tunes on the album.
Overall, the bluntness of Chris Shaw’s delivery really compliments the decadent and dingy sound Segall and company bring to the table with GØGGS . It accentuates the malicious tone of the music and adds a certain level of intensity that Segall’s trademark psych-tinged vocals would be hard-pressed to otherwise replicate.
GØGGS have gone on record as stating “this is not a side project, it is a necessity”, and after listening to their full-length debut, you would be hard-pressed to argue with that. Their debut is arguably up there with some of Segall’s best albums, and for this reviewer anyway, far surpasses anything Shaw has done with Ex-Cult to date.
GØGGS are a beast of band that, on second thought, aren’t all that unlike a venereal disease after all: they’re aggressive, infectious, sleazy, and ugly. Those terms might seem derogatory, but in the case of GØGGS, they are complimentary. Above all, GØGGS are just a hell of a lot of fun to listen to, and will hopefully be a force to be reckoned with on the music scene for years to come.