Surgery Channel by The C.I.A. Album Review by Stephan Boissonneault for Northern Transmissions


Surgery Channel

The C.I.A.

There have been close to four music group iterations that have taken the name C.I.A. acronym for their moniker; a hardcore punk band from Connecticut, a ska punk group from the 1980s, and a rap group with Ice Cube leading.

This time, we have a trio made up of psych-rock wizard Ty Segall, his wife, Denée and his bandmate Emmett Kelly and their sophomore LP, Surgery Channel, which isn’t a straight forward fuzzed-out psych album (thank god, we’ve had so many of those from Ty it’s hard to keep up), but a more gothic club, post-punk tinged piece with gargantuan bass guitars, drum machines, screeching synths, and Denée’s shifting vocals. Ty Segall takes reins on bass, drums, and drum machines, leaving space for Denée to do her thing while Emmett fills in on guitar soundscapes and synths.

Unfortunately, Denée doesn’t really stick with one style—sometimes straight up growling on a track like “The Wait,” or doing a synth-pop Blondie thing on “Bubble” —which gives a disjointed feeling to the album. The latter is a cool 80s vibed song that sounds like its about someone doing whippets or a regretful pregnant women, it’s hard to tell. But going off that, Surgery Channel feels like its sort of feels like three different bands on one 12-track album, which is fine I suppose. This album was recorded in Ty’s Harmonizer studio over the pandemic and it seems like The C.I.A. went in with no plan. They just wanted to make some music.

Still if you love punchy, thick, bass lines like Death From Above 1979 or Ty Segall’s Slaughterhouse days, this might be your cup of tea. Most tracks on the first half of the album are heavy and fast, falling into fuzzed-out passages that Ty Segall is known for. A few of the songs also sound like Fuzz, another one of Ty’s projects, if fronted by a female vocalist.

“Impersonator,” is probably the darkest and most satisfying on Surgery Channel, beginning with a black tar bass riff and dirty drum machine and Denée’s indie rock wails. The real money is the chorus which has Ty doing a call and response thing by saying “Impersonator,” in his best Peter Murphy of Bauhaus vocal tone.

Surgery Channel has some great tunes, but in the immense musical landscape, bands like this are popping up every day, so is that enough anymore? I kind of expected to be more blown away.

Order Surgery Channel by The C.I.A. HERE


Looking for something new to listen to?

Sign up to our all-new newsletter for top-notch reviews, news, videos and playlists.