It’s becoming a recurring theme in the high octane world of psych, to release just about anything and everything a speed-driven psyche can conjure up.
Both Ty Segall and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard (all one band name) have put out the two most fuzz filled psych records of the year so far in the eponymous Ty Segall (Segall’s second record of the same title!) and Flying Microtonal Banana respectively. Segall’s record is undoubtably his best, with White Stripes-style garage rock melting into Marc Bolan-esque glam. A lot of the quality on Ty Segall can be put down to the quality studio time he has finally invested in – rather than the home taping he’s been prone to until now.
But it still sounds a bit rushed – and no wonder. This is his ninth album in as many years. It’s not just Segall: psych artists can’t stop releasing records these days. Flying Microtonal Banana is King Gizzard’s ninth album in only five years, and they’re showing no sign of stopping, with a further four albums planned for this year alone. It could be argued that this trend of mass production began with Thee Oh Sees in 2003: they have since released 18 albums. Oh Sees frontman John Dwyer explained his bands philosophy to New York Music News back in 2012 saying:
“We work hard. It seems strange for us to release so many records because of the tradition in the recording industry to do things a certain way. For decades it has been months and months in the studio, one release a year… We just do what we want to do. Most of the songs have been worked out by the time we get to the studio so we can record them all live in two days.”
It seems as though artists like Segall and King Gizzard have picked up on Dwyer’s ethos, but is this beneficial? As a listener, I have always been completely overwhelmed by the sheer amount of content in the catalogues of these psych bands. I can imagine for hardcore fans of these bands the seemingly endless supply of music is an absolute dream. For newcomers, however, it seems impossible to navigate. If these bands want the recognition they deserve, they have to slow down and become more inclusive.
I was lucky enough to discover King Gizzard just after they released the album that broke them, I’m In Your Mind Fuzz. I’ve followed King Gizzard with each rapid fire release (Not one letting me down, despite their constant genre bending). I found getting into Segall more challenging. He had just released his eighth studio album Emotional Mugger.
The first Segall release I listened to, Melted, I bought after looking online to find his most garage rock-influenced record. With Melted, however, there was a sense that with more time and better production, it would have gone from being a good record to a great one.
At the end of the day, while Segall and Thee Oh Sees should both have a cup of herbal tea and calm down, Segall seems to have taken the first few sips already. On the other hand, I do wonder if King Gizzard’s recent increase in productivity may cost them their growing popularity. To conclude, maybe psych should opt for quality over quantity.
For those who have not got the time to listen to the whole psych catalogue, I have listed my favourite three releases by each band:
- Melted, 2010, Goner Records
- Manipulator, 2014, Drag City
- Ty Segall, 2017, Drag City
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard
- I’m In Your Mind Fuzz, 2014, Castle Face Records
- Paper Mache Dream Balloon, 2015, Heavenly Recordings
- Nonagon Infinity, 2016, Heavenly Recordings
Thee Oh Sees
- Floating Coffin, 2013, Castle Face Records
- A Weird Exits, 2016, Castle Face Records
- Castlemania, 2011, Castle Face Records