Band: Thee Oh Sees Year: 2008 Label: Castleface Records
This is an islandy (deserted, of course) heck of a record that if you’re down with the style, you’ll be satisfied thru and thru. I am. Minimalism dominates, but there are some fleshed out moments resulting in more of the rock ‘n roll side of the group we’d see on later releases. Brigid and John’s vocals are angelic/psychedelic, matter of fact this might be more like a Jandek in his prime LP if it wasn’t for those two absolutely delighting our ears. The arrangements are pretty sparse with light, eccentric folk guitar and a Beets esque rhthym though Thee Oh Sees do just fine with little or no drums. Like an Island Carnivale wax export from Bermuda, there’s a real personal charm that’s directly connected to nature. The birds are singing along, perhaps fully aware that this group is primitively San Franciscan. Thee Hounds capture an endearing phase of chilled out Oh Sees that your I SAW EM SHRED HARD AT PITCHFORK FEST newbie would probably be surprised and hopefully glad to hear about. Perfect for outdoors vinyl spinning – your neighbors won’t be disturbed, grandma can sneak a nap in, mom will water the plants, and you’ll be there sitting with your shirt off (or on), pen in hand, gentle breeze, and green cup of iced water. Fuck you waited eight months for this moment. BUT this is conversely ideal, winter by the fire, loved ones in full existential quarter life crisis mode. Enjoy the sun while it’s out, you island raiders.
Thee Oh Sees – the name dates back to 1997 when Dwyer first called his work “Orinoka Crush Suite” – have easily built a name for themselves internationally as the lushest of rock ‘n roll bands, releasing literally tons of high quality records and touring nearly non-stop. For fans of the band, especially those who’ve seen them throughout the years in San Francisco, this must be exceptionally difficult; the band’s presence could almost be taken for granted, knowing they were always up to something good.
Dwyer is moving to LA and Brigette Dawson is heading to Santa Cruz. Mike Shoun and Petey Dammit will remain in SF. All four of these talented individuals have put in dizzying efforts in the band and I can’t wait to see what they’ll be doing next! On a KLYAM level, Chris and I first heard about the extraordinary Oh Sees in October 2009 outside Harpers Ferry [Allston, MA] at the recommendation of Billy Grave, who was drumming for Nobunny at the time. It wouldn’t be long until I was hooked on the band. They ventured into an array of styles whilst carving out an unmistakable Oh Sees sound. 2009’s Help is a personal fave along with 2011’s Castlemania – these being more primitive garage/psych releases in their extensive discography. Their more extended jams of recent days (as seen on Carrion Crawler / The Dream, Putrifiers II, and Floating Coffin) are killer as well – bestial, humming, CATCHY.
For those who know Thee Oh Sees well indeed, you know all this and have your own favorites. If for whatever reason you haven’t had a chance to really check out Thee Oh Sees [you probably haven’t been on KLYAM before!], do so. It’ll be a lengthy pursuit but totally worth every second. On one final note, I’m grateful to have seen Thee Oh Sees for the first and only time in New York last September playing with Ty Segall no less. Like all the greatest shows I’ve been to, this one was non-stop movement; long time fans, new ones, probably would have knocked the band down if it wasn’t for the tall stage acting as a barrier. This is what it was like at most Oh Sees shows, I imagine!
Thee Oh Sees (no introduction needed at this point!) are heading on tour in a couple of days. They aren’t hitting our hub, but they’ll be playing various shows around the USA. Haven’t seen ’em? Do it. Have? Have a blast and bring people that love rocking out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The Blind Shake and OBN IIIs are opening.
10/10/2013 The Chapel San Francisco, CA with The Blind Shake, OBNIIIs, Fryborg
10/11/2013 The Chapel San Francisco, CA with OBNIIIs, The Blind Shake, Old Light
10/12/2013 The Chapel San Francisco, CA with The Blind Shake, OBNIIIs, Dreamsalon
10/14/2013 Crocodile Seattle WA
10/15/2013 Hawthorne Portland OR
10/16/2013 The Rickshaw Vancouver BC
10/18/2013 Republik Calgary AB
10/19/2013 VFW MIssoula MT
10/21/2013 The Amsterdam Minneapolis MN
10/22/2013 The Empty Bottle Chicago IL
10/23/2013 The Empty Bottle Chicago IL
10/24/2013 The Shelter Detroit MI
10/25/2013 Alrosa Columbus OH
10/29/2013 Irving Plaza New York NY
10/30/2013 Underground Arts Philadelphia PA
10/31/2013 Kranky’s Winston-Salem NC
11/02/2013 Terminal Atlanta GA
11/04/2013 The Stage Miami FL
11/05/2013 The Wooly Gainesville FL
11/06/2013 One Eyed Jack New Orleans LA
11/08/2013 Fun Fun Fun Fest Austin TX
11/10/2013 Launchpad Albuquerque NM
11/12/2013 Bar Pink San Diego CA
11/13/2013 Observatory Santa Ana CA
11/14/2013 Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock Los Angeles CA
11/15/2013 Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock Los Angeles CA
Band: Thee Oh Sees Release: April 2013 Label: Castle Face Records
Thee Oh Sees have been cranking out album after album of tremendously crafted rock ‘n roll for a long while, to the point where keeping up with their output is a bit of a task in itself. They are the kind of band that intrigued me pretty early on in the discovery process so it was particularly entertaining to journey from release to release. Partially what makes Thee Oh Sees so endearing a group is the momentum and energy transferred between band and listener. You could say that about any group, I suppose, but if you like rock ‘n roll that stomps you, messes with you, has you moving, etc, etc, this band, as you’ve figured out, does the trick for you.
I look back on releases like Help and even Castlemania and realize those were hard-hitters, albeit in a more retro, more straightforward psych-infused manner. The band throughout Floating Coffin seems much more at ease to indulge in thicker, faster sounds, showcasing jams that aren’t as immediately catchy as say 2009’s “Rainbow” or “Flood’s New Light” from Putrifiers II. There’s almost a perennial sense of teasing on this record, but that teasing is almost always elevated to no bullshit rocking out. I’d say the most prominent example of this is on “No Spell,” which is by no means short on repetition, but hooks right into one of the band’s biggest and best riffs. The song’s only a little over four minutes, but it feels much longer (this is a good thing). Speaking of time, a pivotal moment comes on Floating Coffin‘s lengthiest tune — “Strawberries 1 + 2”. I say pivotal because in all earnestness, there are not many bands like Thee Oh Sees. I might be talking instrumentally – 12 stringer, guitar as bass, amps, and effects – but no, no, I’m talking sound. I sense a keen level of comfort the band has in all things drone – lingering parts, a wide assortment of effects, solos, and feedback … that kind of stuff. But this isn’t just sort of bob your head slowly drone, this is the kind of drone that could result in chaos and danger.
Thee Oh Sees are at their most intimidating on Floating Coffin when “Night Crawler” commences. It takes a while for the real scary stuff to appear, but it does in the form of alien vibes, glitches, haunting familiarity. A band would have to be really intense to make an album full o’ this kind of stuff; Thee Oh Sees’ particular creation reinforces the fact that they aren’t shy about messing with all sorts of tones, attitudes, and approaches to making rock and roll. I find myself really into this versatility, in addition to having a weird sense of trust in the group’s ability to satisfy. That’s why it is also kind of odd to talk about how I exactly feel, as a lot of that is owed to a relatively recent acquaintance (2009) to a band that has experience greater than my age. So it sounds messed up to say “Tunnel Time” is like Coachwhips with flutes, but that’s what I’m thinking. The closing song – “Minotaur” – was our first taste of this record, the first to be released, and it is beautifully arranged, carefree, and honest. The contrast between Dwyer’s singing style and the rest of the music is amusing and awesome.
I often used to compare albums in my reviews, but Floating Coffin seems to stand on its own turf, a few blocks from civilization (with Warm Slime in nearest vicinity). The album truly is impressive in scope and delivers on several levels. It is not truly mind-blowing either, but who asked for that! Thee Oh Sees are not ones to disappoint and what they’ve done here continues that legacy. The band live is a crazed monster. I am curious to see if they are going to try out some of the more peculiar tracks showcased on Floating Coffin – the ones that might be plenty random in an Oh Sees set. Not like that really matters for a band that rules hard like this one.
1. No Age –Favorite Show: Chum’s Coffeehouse (3/10/12)
2. Nobunny – Favorite Show: Living Bread (9/21/12)
3. Ty Segall – Favorite Show: The Well (9/22/12) 4. Fat Creeps – Favorite Show: Moe’s Lounge (8/10/12) 5. Atlantic Thrills – Favorite Show: Great Scott (12/3/12) 6. Thee Oh Sees – Favorite Show: The Well (9/22/12) 7. The Migs – Favorite Show: Wilder Zangcraft (11/24/12) 8. Slimers – Favorite Show: Great Scott (12/18/12) 9. Mark Sultan –Favorite Show: Starlab (12/8/12) 10. Colleen Green – Favorite Show: Middle East Upstairs (9/9/12)
Bands: Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, K-Holes Date: September 22, 2012 Venue: The Well (Brooklyn, New York)
Comments: Heading far away from Beantown to see show isn’t a frequent occurrence for us at KLYAM, but when we do, it always ends up being a fun time. When I first saw in June that Ty and Thee Oh Sees were playing in Brooklyn, but not in Boston (or Portland or Providence), it was a no-brainer to make the voyage. Not to mention that Nobunny shortly thereafter announced a date in Brooklyn for the night before. So yeah, what a nice weekend.
Act I – K-Holes – By the time the K-Holes hit the stage, The Well had filled right up. I could tell the crowd didn’t want to miss any of the action, and why would they? K-Holes are what I call mainstays as openers for some of the rock ‘n roll underground’s bigger bands. I’ve seen them open for Black Lips twice in New York and once for King Khan and the Shrines in Boston. They’ve certainly built up a reputation as a band that brings all they’ve got to the stage. On this night, the stage is quite large for them (“I feel like I’m at the Emmys” singer/guitarist Jack Hines informs us), but this of course doesn’t change their performance. They plow right through several dark, saxophone crazed songs, which to me sound even better than in the past. Also, I’ve never seen a band with their set-up (saxophone, vocalist/tambourine, guitar, bass, a drum kit with three floor toms). They are interesting. I enjoyed closer “Rats,” off their most recent LP Dismania [Hardly Art], the most. It’s a full steam ahead ass-kicker, fitting in perfectly with what’s to come.
Act II – Thee Oh Sees – Finally! It took me three years (approximately) to see these guys and finally I can say it…I saw them. Seeing a lot of live footage on YouTube and hearing people rave incessantly about the live shows – not to mention my very many listens to the records – all of this is awesome, but you’ve got to be there. So I was there along with about a thousand others and we witnessed the same thing. A band that truly has it together and quite easily engages the audience’s attention to something that makes blue shirted security guards want to join in on the fun. Thee Oh Sees got it started with “The Dream,” which is an insane tune, but there’s so much more build-up in the live setting that it is really hard to describe to be honest. After that we were blessed with “Lupine Dominus,” a stand-out off just released Putrifiers II. Then came that song that sounds like “Have Love Will Travel” — oh yes — “Tidal Wave,” which is just as cool as it sounds. They also got in “Carrion Crawler/The Dream,” the wild and quintessential sing-along “I Was Denied,” the superbly lengthy a-a-a-a-a-ah-ah-ha-ha-ha-a-a-a-a of “Contraption/Soul Desert,” and some others which I can’t quite remember right now. Either way, this was one performance that I will surely remember and I can not wait to see them again. It would be cool to catch them in a littler place, but they are at the point where they’ve got a pretty sizable and energetic fan base so I’m not sure what’s to come. No one does.
Act III – Ty Segall – Ty (and band) – if you read this site, you know there is a whole bunch o’ coverage, so disregard the obvious – are near the top of the charts as far as the kind of music I really love. It’s not even one sound – it’s more of the experience and variety of selections that gets me pumped. Whether it is the cuts from Slaughterhouse that they opened with, a throwback classic like “Standing at the Station,” or the many Melted jams “Imaginary Person,” “Finger,” “My Sunshine,” “Caesar,” “Girlfriend,” the current Ty set is all over the place categorically, but it’s all marked by an unbeatable combination of loudness, fuzz, and pop. It is no wonder why more and more people are being turned onto Ty and his band. And they’ll continue to be. The heavy rains that came during “Finger” seemed to coincide with the intensity of the song and they never really stopped. I was pleasantly surprised by “My Head Explodes,” my favorite from Goodbye Bread, which the band hasn’t really played too often. You could say more surprises came with a little “Sweet Home Alabama” and an encore of The Doors “The End”. It should be said that the first couple of rows represented a danger zone for crowd surfers. There was one fan who took a particularly gruesome fall near the stage that drew the concern of Ty, who requested medical attention for the man. We all hope he is okay. Ty shows shouldn’t be dangerous and apart from that incident, everything went pretty smoothly. There were also several photographers and a cameraman on hand – and they were having just as great of a time as the crowd. It was a cool sight! Back to the songs. Closer “Wave Goodbye” and oldie “Skin” bear mentioning along with the finale of all finales, “The Drag”. Hope to see these guys soon in Boston, but you know, if New York is the only option, New York is the only option. That’s easy.