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Impediments / Ty Segall - Impediments / Lemons

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Artist: Impediments / Ty Segall

Album: Impediments / Lemons

Label: Happy Parts / Goner

Review date: Oct. 23, 2009

Back when songs were written for sheet music as much as a recording, the composer and the lyricist worked in separate departments. During the rise of pop culture, the division of labor was perfectly reasonable. Itís not like the cameraman was expected to draft the screenplay, or promote the movie for that matter. Using the new technologies required specialization. Bob Dylan may have modeled himself on a roving troubadour, but when he announced that heíd put an end Tin Pan Ally, he was recognizing that his records were recognized as the vision of one guy. He wrote the chords, he wrote the words, and he got the press worked up.

The biggest lesson Dylan took from Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis (before he traded them for Woody Gutherie) may have been that the music, the words and the outrageousness could all come from one person. And so, the notion of the singer-songwriter got started, the one man song-factory. It pushed the Beatles, it pushed the Stones, and it pushed a lot of other late-1960s phenomena, like underground comix. A loner or few friends can take the methods of production-line music and make it art.

The Impediments and Ty Segall arenít really shooting for art. Both bands are on the lower rungs of the garage rock scene, with enough promise to climb. These are discs are good fun, especially if youíre the type who regularly descends the ladder looking for new kicks. Iím throwing these two side by side, because the Impediments have a lot to say, and Seagall has got great control over white-noise rock ní roll. The former could use an arranger and the latter could use some hooks.

The sound of the Impediments is Dolls-y/Stones-y blues-sleaze. The opener kicks that slop around, typically hyper and ragged, then breaks a chorus of "I wanna fuck Leanne Rimes." And over and over, they fit an impressive amount of sophmoric spite into their bar-burners. It works well because theyíre actually at the end of their teens, and the spite is full of anachronisms and non-sequitors. Like this thing oí beauty:

"You want a guy who likes Hall and Oates,
likes riding ponys
not riding goats.
Thatís what you want.
You want a square."

Remove the tale of compulsive jerking-off from their closer "Vagina Envy" and itís not nearly as, uh, propulsive. But then you donít get many instrumental versions of Dylan songs, either. They sing about being dead three years from now, and theyíre on track for making a mark before that. As obnoxious young libertines who donít get too fratty, theyíre not bad.

Segallís Lemons, his second solo record in a yearís time, has full command of the busted-speaker garage sound. Which is good, ícause you canít make out much in the bottom-of-the-sea vocals. Even when he burns off some of the haze and moves the singing to the foreground, itís not sing-along material. The most compelling track is the instrumental. Over a skiffle of rimshots, he pours various acoustic and over-driven guitars, and all of it sticks. "Johnny" is the kind of revved up terror that the Impediments are striving for. He shovels dirt all over a Beefheart song, enough to make it his own, enough dirt to obuscure the chorus of "Adapt her adapter." Van Vlietís effort of fitting music to all those weird words makes the chords go places they wouldnít go as riffs alone. I wish Ty had more than riffs.

Hereís the weird thing about punk rock, if you define it as dingbats who start a band out of nowhere. For the first few decades after 1965, it was rare that any of the records were worth the time past their debut. But those first first salvos were intoxicating. If they made a career, itís ícause they grew out of it. Now that recording is as cheap as a pawn-shop drum kit (especially if you donít give a damn about sound quality), punk bands can take years to mature. The Marked Men have been putting out records since 2003, but itís only with this yearís Ghosts that theyíve bottled up enough fury to match the early Wipers. The best thing on one Intelligence LP was a cover of Thee Oh Sees. As these bands hop from Goner to Dirtnap to Siltbreeze to In the Red, its like a DIY version of the song factory has emerged, as bands develop their strengths and drift toward the particulars of each label.

Back in í65, half the songs on a debut would be covers. But Loveís take on "Hey Joe" will never be confused for the Byrds or Hendrix. A lot of todayís young bruisers would hit harder with better songs, and a lot of the songs that are waiting to be better are being played by their tour mates.

By Ben Donnelly

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