Ty Segall

Fudge Sandwich

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When an artist who usually records their own material decides to release a set of covers, it often means that they've run short on ideas and inspiration. That hardly seems to be the case with Ty Segall, who was relentlessly prolific in 2018; Fudge Sandwich, in which he bends 11 tunes by 11 artists to his creative will, is one of five albums he released that year. But if Segall wanted to take on other people's tunes for a change, Fudge Sandwich shows he can do so and put the firm stamp of his personality on each of them. Right out of the box, Segall's lurching, ominous reworking of War's blissfully funky "Low Rider" demonstrates that following the template of the originals was not part of the game plan here. The same goes for his take on the Dils' "Class War," which turns the anti-capitalist punk anthem into an earnest exercise in folk rock. Segall approaches these songs in ways that are distinctly different than the originals, but for the most part, he still captures their underlying mood. He transforms Neil Young's "The Loner" into a fast, buzzy garage punk tantrum, but the protagonist's alienation is as clear as ever, and while his mega-distorted, gear-shifting amble through the Grateful Dead's "St. Stephen" isn't as contemplative as the original, but it remains just as inward-looking and maybe a bit trippier. It's hard not to love the righteous stomp of Segall's glam rock makeover of Funkadelic's "Hit It and Quit It" (keep in mind George Clinton had a soft spot for hard rock guitars), and the spare, deeply felt cover of John Lennon's "Isolation" is one of the few examples of Segall honoring both the sound and mindset of the original and making it work. Segall didn't write any of the songs on Fudge Sandwich, but these performances are as much his as anything that's come from his pen, and if you still need to be convinced that he's one of the freest and most adventurous minds in contemporary rock & roll, this might just do the trick.

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