Album Review: Fuzz, “Fuzz”


You can often guess something about a band’s sound from its name. Noah & the Whale has “indie rock” written all over it; Amon Amarth just screams (literally) Viking metal; the Rolling Stones give away their debt to Muddy Waters. And good Lord does Fuzz clue you in to the San Francisco power trio’s distorted, doomy hard rock.

Centered around Bay Area garage-rock wunderkind Ty Segall, Fuzz’s self-titled debut (2013) could be called “Riff” with equal applicability. For this particular side-project, Segall sets aside his guitar to pummel the skins with the primal fury of Blue Cheer’s Paul Whaley, leaving guitarist Charles Moothart to channel the black magic of early Sabbath. Meanwhile Roland Cosio holds the whole thing together with his sludgy, riff-doubling Geezer Butler basslines. Their interplay has all the sloppy grandeur that you’d expect from such comparisons, and the resultant noise is electrifying in short bursts.

The problems arise when you listen to 37 straight minutes of it. That may not seem like a lot, but there were occasions when I thought I was listening to one song when, in fact, it had long since ended, to be replaced by two subsequent tracks. Though “Hazemaze” is straight-up blues-based hard rock while “Preacher” runs closer to proto-punk, for the most part these eight songs occupy identical sonic and stylistic terrain. When the band pulls back a bit—as during the Doors-y intro to “Earthen Gate” or when “Loose Sutures” gives way, “Dazed & Confused”-like, to a series of solo spots—it injects their crushing riffage with some necessary variety, making it all the more impressive when they explode into another fuzzed-out solo. It’s still an engaging listen, but those contrastive moments are too few and far between.

I had the chance to see Fuzz live earlier this fall and didn’t take it, making it the second time I’ve missed out on seeing Ty Segall in the past year. I’m sure I’ll have the opportunity again – Segall is a powerhouse, releasing records (and touring them) faster than I can get my hands on them. But I still regret it, as Fuzz make the kind of music where I’m quite positive you need to see it live to get the full impact. Until then, Fuzz is another worthy-if-imperfect entry in Segall’s ever-growing discography.


Buy it here. Spotify it here.

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