Ty Segall's Five Best Cover Songs

[caption id="attachment_54742" align="alignnone" width="640"] Photo: Annabel Mehran[/caption]

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After having most of 2012 in a sleeper hold already -- there’s the collaborative album Hair in tandem with White Fence, there’s touring-band burner Slaughterhouse, there has been a long spring, summer, and fall with co-headlining tours with Thee Oh Sees and the aforementioned White Fence, not to mention the handful of seven-inches he’s released with Drag City -- the most phenomenal thing about Ty Segall’s reign this year is that it’s not quite over. He’s set to release Twins today, his third album of the year, featuring lead single (and frontrunner for best song he’s released in 2012) “The Hill.” And next month, the centerpiece of the stratospherically anticipated The Velvet Underground and Nicoby Castle Face and Friends will be Segall’s cover of eternal mixtape staple “Femme Fatale.” To celebrate the babyface crown-prince of the San Francisco garage scene closing out his year in splendid form, we’ve compiled his five best takes on other artists’ work.

1. T-Rex, “Elemental Child”

This T. Rex cover is the final track on Segall’s excellent 2011 Ty Rex EP and he forgoes the electric folk and British cooing from the beginning, instead relying upon tape warps and his reliably hair-raising guitar work. With the original building up through Marc Bolan’s peculiar vocals building to the clangy, clattery finish, Segall cuts out the middleman and turns it into an enormously weird odyssey from start to finish.

2. Redd Kross, “Annette’s Got the Hits”

A good rock musician is merely just a good student, and Segall shows that here in spades on his cover of the 1980 punk anthem. He turns the distorted main riff into a sharp weapon, lacerating everything within blade’s reach as he growls the lyrics under the din. By throwing his love of youthful anarchy and abrasive noise on a song that already had enough to begin with, he succeeds by process of sensory overload.

3. David Bowie, “Suffragette City” (With Mikal Cronin)

Here Segall turns the piano-led bounce of the Bowie original into a thrash-surf-punk banger, shortening it by a minute and forty seconds and transmogrifying it into a two-minute blitzkrieg with a blistering spate of feedback and noise carrying the song to its end. There’s no telling what Ziggy Stardust might have done if he had stumbled in on this version of the song.

4. Bo Diddley, “Diddy Wah Diddy”

During a crust-punk plow-through of this classic standard, Segall and his band may not have recorded Slaughterhouse’s best song by any stretch of the imagination, but they did lay to tape the most hysterical Ty Segall moment since his exclamation “I’M ON DRUGS, LEMMY FROM MOTORHEAD GAVE ‘EM TO ME!” on Melted. Far into the song, after it had reached the point of no return and kept half-assedly ambling through, Segall strikes a chord and shouts, “FUCK THIS FUCKING SONG!” before making one final attempt to get the song going again and then admitting, “We don’t know what we’re doing!”

5. Gun Club, “Son of Sam”

Because this version of "Son of Sam" was recorded entirely by Segall with his past one-man-band setup, it would have been almost impossible for him to recreate Gun Club’s rapid-fire guitar stabs and angular post-punk funk here. In lieu of that, however, Segall offers one of his most incendiary performances, able to convey pure energy and an inviting feeling of looseness simultaneously. As one of his earliest singles, “Son of Sam” casts a straight line between the slipshod brilliance of his early work and the tighter, heavier (and not by any means less wild) contemporary efforts.