Release Date: May 26, 2015
Record label: Castle Face
As consistent as he is prolific, San Francisco-based John Dwyer has been exploring fuzzed-up psych-rock under various names for almost 20 years now. His ninth album as Thee Oh Sees has its fair share of songs that resemble long-lost Nuggets-era gems (Withered Hand and Rogue Planet are particularly bracing). But there is light and shade amid the trademark distortion: the proggy seven-minute Sticky Hulks opens with a pretty organ motif before Dwyer’s guitar crashes in, and Holy Smoke showcases a talent that doesn’t always have to hide behind amplification.
New Oh Sees? Yes, please! So the “Cough Syrup in Yogurt” vinyl is long gone, but there’s still this drenched-ass bundle of sinister insectoid reverberations with which to wreck your digital palate. Besides, if a CD is packaged well (great artwork as ever), is it not just as charming a collectible/domicile enricher? Sleek micro-technology will never replace the need many of us have to be ensconced with a cozy degree of clutter. And even if one doesn’t buy a three-dimensional form of Oh Sees material, that doesn’t mean it won’t be just another clutch of files in our digital space — something to get to later, after you’ve finished unpacking this or that.
Calling Thee Oh Sees' John Dwyer insanely prolific only gets at half of what makes him and the group he helms so special. Yes, he cranks out a lot of records. 2015's Mutilator Defeated at Last is the group's sixth record in five years and the second after a drastic lineup change. Plus a week after this was released, his electronic project Damaged Bug put out an album.
At times, Thee Oh Sees may have sounded scrappy and scuzzy on record, but by the time the San Francisco-based garage rock quartet released 2013's Floating Coffin—their seventh album, give or take—they had become one of the finest live acts around. On stage, they were just straight up better than their peers—faster, tighter, and weirder than the competition. And then they were gone.
Thee Oh Sees, by this point, is less a band than it is an expanding universe. It explodes ever outward from frontman John Dwyer’s former apartment on Haight Street to encompass near and distant galaxies of psych pop, krautrock, and lo-fi scuzz. And they’re moving at roughly the speed of the actual cosmos; since kicking into full gear under their current moniker in 2008, the band has churned out LPs and singles at a pace that’s frankly intimidating to the casual fan.
Eye, eye! US man delivers a psych belter. For those of us with kaleidoscope eyes, it’s something of a boom time. Thanks to Tame Impala, Ty Segall, Temples, Goat et al bobbing their prismatic noggins over rock’s parapet, the modern psychedelic underground has begun to mushroom again (ahem) beyond a grimy niche. .
When Thee Oh Sees sink their teeth into a groove they are like a ravenous dog with a juicy bone. 'Lupine Ossuary' is a vampiric tour de force, where the multi layered reverb and riffs shadow dance over repetitive rhythms like Nosferatu trying to creep up on a victim whilst being blown back by a wind machine. This pivotal moment in the band's sixth album in five years and the second since that phantom non-sequitur split.
You know about the big releases each week, but what about those smaller albums which may have passed underneath your radar. Don’t miss out on the smaller, lesser-known gems which might become some of your favourites. We’ve rounded up six of the best new album releases from this week: catch up ….
Rescinding their intentions, Mutilator Defeated at Last marks Thee Oh Sees' second LP since an announcement in 2013 of indefinite hiatus. Not surprisingly, the San Franciscans' backpedaling remains most welcome. Opener "Web" commences with guitar tones swirling psychedelic, frontman John Dwyer whispering lyrics in a precise, punctuated staccato. Two minutes in, that reservedness gets scrapped as sound engulfs.
Always in motion, the clattering candy-colored garage-rock crazy train that is Thee Oh Sees goes at multiple speeds. It’s not always breakneck, though that’s the prolific California group’s default pace during its legendary live shows. Throughout his band’s extensive discography—and especially on solo-oriented albums like 2011’s Castlemania and 2012’s Putrifiers II—multi-instrumentalist mastermind John Dwyer has further distinguished the brand with kooky sing-song melodies and frilly ’60s-pop flourishes unique to his artistry.