If we’re moving a bit faster to get through all these new records coming it, it’s fitting to start with a short EP. Released a few months after his eponymous rocker I reviewed a few weeks ago, Fried Shallots is a brief but pleasant attic cleaning from Ty Segall. Six tracks recorded over the past few years, including two new versions of songs from previous albums. Does categorizing this as a diversion, an odds and ends assortment lessen the enjoyment I get out of it? Not really. If anything it gives a little more insight into the man’s process what works and what doesn’t when you’re working to sequence and build an album.
Opener “Big Man” may be a tad less adventurous than its sprawling, laid out cousin off of 2016’s Emotional Mugger but it makes up for it in punchiness. There’s a 60s pop in the bass and keys-driven riff, and I’m here for it. Likewise the closer “Talkin'” – it’s a bouncier, more lively version than what served as a relaxing come down on the Ty Segall album. In this instance I’m not sure I like the electrified version here better, but it’s interesting to see an earlier permutation of a track and see how taking it in a different direction can help balance an album’s overall sonic arc.
That leaves the four unlerealsed tracks. “Dust” has that bruising lo-fi fuzz in its guitar that’s become a signature of Segall’s sound, and if there isn’t anything amazing here it’s still a fun, steady rocker that sounds like the template for other songs that would mutate and evolve into shifting dragons of garage rock mythology. Killer solo, too, as others have noted. “When the Gulls Turn to Ravens” is an amazing song title that doesn’t quite live up to its bluegrass-inflected acoustic voice, but it’s close. The playing is fantastic, and if it’s a bit too, well…standard a song, I wish I could get a full EP like this – it’s clear Segall can keep in a certain lane and knock it out if he wanted to. Side 2 opens with the feel good rock of “Is It Real” and it’s maybe the first point where I can definitely see this as a throwaway track. I don’t have the brain to recognize if any of the ideas were used in other songs, but outside of the again great solo this leaves little impression. Pop up randomly in a playlist? Sure! But I bet I’d forget it soon after. Finally there’s “Another Hustle” and I have to admit – I love the percussion on this. A song like this is one of the reasons I love vinyl: there’s a tangible quality to each hit. The lyrics are silly and the song is basically one idea stretched to three minutes, but it doesn’t matter. As long as that beat is there, I have a smile on my face.
Not bad for some dusty leftovers. That plus the fact all proceeds go towards the ACLU (hope that’s till the case five years later) make Fried Shallots a fun diversion, even if it only lasts 19 minutes.