Posts Tagged ‘Thee Oh Sees’

Osees – “Dreary Nonsense”

What kind of year would it be if there wasn’t a new Oh Sees (now it’s Osees, I guess) on the horizon? I wouldn’t know what to do. The tides would be off. At the very least, the axis would slip a few degrees on the ball of dirt and water we ride through the cosmos. The band’s latest, Protean Threat is preceded by the short, but cratered track “Dreary Nonsense.” The cut bursts out of the barrel with a full force blow of guitar and a squirm of keys that’s constantly crushed into new and more uncomfortable positions over the course of the track’s brief tenure on your speakers. It shies away from light, bears its fangs and leaves a light laceration before retreating into the walls of weird once more. From the sounds of things the new LP is bound to let even more blood than they do here. Check out a rehearsal for the LP captured live at Zebulon in March. Protean Threat is out September 18th, naturally from Castleface.




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Brigid Dawson & The Mothers Network

It feels like this album from Brigid Dawson & The Mothers Network has been sorely overlooked in the lead-up to its release. Its a damn shame because the ex-Oh See has put together an album that pushes her range far beyond the garage and psych roots attached to her. Within Oh Sees Dawson always provided the light to the rest of the band’s brooding dark — washing in areas of harmony and humility to the band’s rhythmic furor or blood-spattered psychedelics. On Ballet of Apes she’s filtering through the frames of folk and jazz, lounge and a hopeful strain of soul. Her songs crouch and coo, then open wide and soar. The album is bruised but resilient and its some of her best work in any context.

As for those lumped into her Mothers Network, Dawson has assembled a rather enviable crew. The backing musicians range far and wide, picking up friends from New York, San Francisco, and Melbourne. The Mothers Network are at any time Mikey Young (Total Control/Eddy Current Suppression Ring), Mike Donovan (Sic Alps), Shayde Sartin (Fresh & Onlys, Flying Canyon), Mike Shoun (Oh Sees, Peacers). Then as the album slides into its latter half Dawson pairs with RSTB faves Sunwatchers for a bout of jazz smolder that slips beyond the veil of light and into a space that’s inhabited by smoke and smudged by hot coal chemical interactions. The band and Dawson make a particularly potent pair and here’s hoping that they might make it more of a regular occurrence. Highly recommend digging further into this one again and again.




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Oh Sees

At this point in their career, nobody’s gonna tell Oh Sees not to be free. The band’s entering their fifteenth year, give or take (if you count the OCS material), and Dwyer and his consortium have been consistently building psychedelic pyres only to torch them each season. Not a band can yowl through an Echoplex without the “Oh Sees Sense” going off these days, yet somehow the band still manages to push their sound further from those initial seeds of garage with each record. This time the band delves further and deeper into the waters of prog than they ever have previously. Sure, there’s always been a touch of the exploratory crawl and plenty of psychedelic jetsom, but this time the band’s cradling their jams in a fog of organ ripple ripped right from Greg Lake’s cutting bin. They’re tossing in a space ooze that’s sliced clean out of the Miles/Ra/Cherry vein, letting drops of scattered noise sluice through the cracks of their shredded sensibilities.

Over the last few albums the band has embraced longer runtimes, but here they close out both LPs with crushers that push in excess of 14 and 20-minutes respectively. They don’t waste the space, either. Both tracks push Oh Sees out of their panicked pacings, layering in downtempo modes of Gong and Amon Düül II between the flashes of freaked-out guitar, punk sputter, and motorik pounce. It is, admittedly, a lot of album. The full runtime clocks in around an hour twenty, so this is more of an undertaking than a light listen, but Oh Sees embrace the journey, pushing the listener through chapters and changes – a prog mindset without necessarily ascribing an overarching theme. Sometimes the harder hitters pull away from the squirrelled weirdness. I’m always going to cue up a track that squirms or seethes like “Together Tomorrow,” or “Scutum & Scorpius” over the frantic fangs of “Heart Worm” but they make it all stitch together without missing a seam. Overall, another set of cavernous crawlers from Dwyer and co. that cement their status among the top-tier psychedelic pantheon.



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Oh Sees – “Poisoned Stones”

Another dosed droplet from the upcoming Oh Sees confirms that the band is headed ever further down the prog wormhole and it suits them just fine. “Poisoned Stones” is a shorter shakedown than the previous taste of Face Stabber, but its no less packed with tumbling drums, yowling guitars, and shell-shocked keys than the epic run of “Henchlock.” The band augments their psychedelic pursuits with a video locked into an 8-bit battle with reality. The clip’s a third-eye thumper that fits the song’s chaotic crunch quite nicely. Check the clip and look for Face Stabber (side note: how did it take Oh Sees all of seventeen albums to hit on Face Stabber as an album title?) on August 16th.



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Oh Sees – “Henchlock”

Its that time of year again, there’s a new Oh Sees album on the horizon and cinder and smoke on the wind. The band follows up their punishing LP Smote Reverser with the rather excellently titled Face Stabber on August 16th. The band is the latest to lead with more than the listener can chew, offering up no bite-sized singles an instead bracing for the album’s release with the 21+ minute closer “Henchlock.” The song is a massive organ & sax slasher, with no darth of John Dwyer’s guitar-scuzz pyrotechnics. The band’s never really stopped crushing the garage-psych axis and this is documented proof that Dwyer and co. remain the perennial authority on how to build an empire of sound. Lock in and fuzz out to “Henchlock” below.



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Oh Sees – “Clearly Invisible”

Its quite possible that Oh Sees never rest, never sit still, and never let the feedback die down. Off of a tour and LP from last year (and with the inevitable new one coming sometime in the next year) the band lays down a single-track one-sided EP bonus for the fans. Seems that Dwyer and the band are as ardent Simply Saucer fans as I am and they’ve worked up a live in the studio cut of a Saucer jam from the fringes. “Clearly Invisible” existed purely as a live cut within Simply Saucer’s world and hearing John and crew tackle it with the intent to further dive into the sonic supernova is exciting. The track’s all tension, a nearly 15+ minute build of menace with crisp-fried guitar noodles topping it like a holiday casserole. The track touches the Hawkwind totem and seeps out into the furthest expanses of cosmic brain fry. While its probably best as a fan piece for completists and psych warriors, rather than an entry into Oh Sees chamber of psychedelic wonders, that’s not to diminish the impact of this limited gem. Wrapped up in the stunning photography of Martin Oggerli, this one begs the question of whether your Oh Sees shelf can squeeze one more.



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Oh Sees

So, here we are at the crossroads again, another Oh Sees album has hit the table and its time to weigh in. I feel like most of these reviews run down as check in to say: “yeah Dwyer’s still a singular force in garage-psych and we should all be grateful.” There’s always some sonic shift worth noting, though, so here goes. After last year’s double bill, two album exploration of slippery psych, followed by an exorcism of their acoustic roots, the band is charging ahead heavier than ever. Don’t believe me, just check that cover. There’s a demon enshrined in fire. Things don’t get much heavier than that before you break out corpse paint and an organ made of bones. Sonically, Smote Reverser is pulled apart by rhythm, thanks in no small part to the double drum setup of Paul Quattrone and Dan Rincon. Naturally, as you can imagine, once you go double drum its time to get serious with the prog touches, and that’s just what the Oh Sees damn well do. They brought in Tom Dolas for some keys on last year’s mellow meltdown Memory of a Cut Off Head but this time he’s going full Keith Emerson with triple stack complexities that burn hot enough to iron that Yes patch on your threadbare denim vest.

To be sure, these touches all set the stage and dress things nice, but what were all here for is the 300-mph wormhole shred of John Dwyer and for that Smote Reverser does not disappoint. There’s plenty of acrobatic string slinging, punctuated by Dwyer’s now trademarked echoplex howl. His riffs bite at the void and dissolve into effects explosions that cascade through the speakers with a molten growl. The record’s not just heavy though, its nimble too – Dwyer plays guitar with a restless soul, seemingly amusing himself as much as us, the listeners. Still this isn’t the one note heavy hammer that the cover makes it out to be. It’s not all dry ice, devil horns and ear damage. While they turn up the screams to hardcore and bring down the heat on “Overthrown,” they just as easily knock the atmosphere down to simmer for the openings of “Last Peace” and “Moon Bog.” The band knows that without time to breathe, there’s no way to appreciate the sweat.

Without question its another quality Oh Sees LP and once more it seems the game is Dwyer trying to outdo himself with each record. So, as with every release that comes hurtling down from the psych asteroid the band occupies this is an essential addition of weight to your no doubt bursting Oh Sees section on the shelf. The heads already know and the rest better catch up or be left behind to soak in the Sulphur smoke trailing behind Smote Reverser.



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Warm Drag – “Cave Crawl”

Warm Drag’s first single slinks out of the gate, coating everything in its path with an ooze of psychedelic excess and basement lounge sex appeal. The band is comprised of Paul Quattrone, who’s done time in Oh Sees and !!!, and singer Vashti Windish. Blending the aesthetics of his respective resume entries, Quattrone is building guitar psychedelics on samplers, dropping fuzz-choked guitars and synths echoplexed beyond their breaking points on top of pounding beats that have him referencing The Bomb Squad’s production. The whole thing is tied together with a low-slung twang that gives things a touch of Western futurism – soundtracking the watering holes of lone gunmen preening through dystopian housing blocks.

Windish, for her part, bursts onto the track with a confidence and cool that is palpable. She’s wrapped Quattrone’s beats and dusted twang around her arm like a mic cable and her vocals seem to twirl the whole track in a practiced precision that’s almost bored with its own show of skill. How this all fits into their upcoming album for In The Red remains to be seen, but it’s a good first look for sure. Paired with remote control happy barrage of images, the video and track are a damn fine freakout that’s built for clubs that skew less bottle service and bros and more leather and blacklight.



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RSTB Best of 2017

So this year is drawing to a close, or almost, we’re still a few weeks away from pushing the broken pieces of 2017 into the trash. There’s no real solace from a lot of the events that took place this year, but, independent of any current events, music has been kind to us all this year. These are the records that spent the most time on the turntable over here. Yeah, I know its kind of a lot, but there were far too many good ones that haven’t been getting the shouts they need elsewhere. Lets say this serves as both a best of and a most overlooked in one go. If you enjoy ’em, buy ’em if you can. Don’t do them the disservice of just bumping up the streaming numbers.

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John Dwyer on Eddie Harris – I Need Some Money

There have been a few artists that remain the cornerstones of RSTB coverage, and without a doubt those are ones I’ve had on the wishlist for the Hidden Gems feature since it started up a couple of years back. Teetering near the top of that list has always been the madman John Dwyer. Thee Oh Sees have spanned 20 releases now and show no sign of slowing. Dwyer’s seared psych has always shown nods to some deeper cuts in the ’60s canon, and his latest LP stripped things back to a decidedly glycerine, serene version of the sound. I’d expected maybe a run towards that route, but that’s what keeps these pieces so interesting. Catching up with Dwyer, he gave an account of how Eddie Harris’ 1975 album I Need Some Money came into his life and the long-lasting impact it’s had on him.

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