Sometimes, you just wanna hear a good old side project. One that doesn't take itself too seriously. One that makes a lot of ungodly noise. One that isn't hoping it might be a more-successful version of the thing that the members usually do in their main band. Ladies and gentlemen and otherwise: here's Wasted Shirt.
This is one of the side-projectiest side projects to come down the pike in a while. Comprised of Lightning Bolt's Brian Chippendale on drums and vocals and the boundlessly energetic and productive Ty Segall on just about everything else, Wasted Shirt has everything a good side hustle needs, starting with a dopey name. The music is about what you'd want and expect from Segall and Chippendale, not that it's predictable. It's just that it's comprised of gonzo, wacko drumming and fuzzed-out riffage. Two great tastes that taste great together.
Berzerker screams from Chippendale-and-Segall-kick-off opener "All is Lost," which at first doesn't sound a lot unlike Lightning Bolt. Its chirpy guitar noise and unintelligible vocals are eventually t-boned by a thunderous riff by Segall that could've been off his "Twins" album from eight years ago. As a song, it's not much, but as a mission statement, it serves its purpose well. It sets the table, and the table is covered with multicolored streamers, chicken bones, cupcakes and razor wire.
The hilariously-titled "Zeppelin 5" is where things really get going. It's a buzz-bomb that recalls "Immigrant Song" in its rhythm, but it sounds much more apocalyptic than Jimmy Page ever dared to get. A descending chromatic riff repeats over and over for the first minute of the song, and then it's replaced by a deep, scary grumble and wordless da-da-da vocals. It's both nightmarish and totally rockin'. A good place to be.
"Fist is my Ward" sounds like two guys going ape, and that's all it's trying to be. The whole song sounds like a drum set fighting a guitar amp while weird elves screech in a circle around the scrum. "Harsho" is built on the herky-jerky drumming of Chippendale — he's one of the only drummers around who can sound like a malfunctioning, glitchy computerized human, and he works it, here.
"Double the Dream" continues the record's habit of making groovy jammers out of what would be pure chaos in the hands of less-talented players. Not to say it isn't chaotic — oh, it is. But Segall and Chippendale are locked in on the whole crazy track. It's danceable, like some of the best stuff they've come up with in their day jobs, but it's also noisy, just like "The Purple One," which takes Segall's habit of acoustic-guitar abuse and ratches it up several notches.
After Chippendale lets loose one of his most intricate beats on the postpunk "Eagle Slaughters Graduation," the album's best song takes the spotlight. The seven-minute "Four Strangers Enter the Cement at Dusk" eschews the lunacy of the songs before it in favor of settling into a doomy groove that grinds like a thousand dentist's drills working away at once. It's greasy like the best of Sabbath. When the riff smash-cuts into an uptempo beat and a voice yelling "This! Is! Your! Fault!" in a treated "Evil Dead" voice, well, it's just too much fun.
"Fungus II" (by the way, there's no "Fungus I") isn't here to outdo the work that Chippendale and Segall create in their main-squeeze projects, and it smartly doesn't try to. It's a spastic burst of psychedelic hardcore, it's quick and to the point, and it sounds like it was a fun time. That's what side projects are for.
Artist: Wasted Shirt
Album: "Fungus II"
Produced by: Ty Segall
Personnel: Brian Chippendale (drums, vocals), Ty Segall (guitar, bass, electronics, vocals)
Tony Bennett reviews albums for the News Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.