What’s the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions Thee Oh Sees? Probably their riot-sparking live show, right? Visions of a guitar-chewing, speaker-smothering, tongue-wagging John Dwyer careening across your cranium, chased by a wild-eyed wrecking crew that drives every last hook home like it’s a nail in the coffin of what one thought it meant to make 21st century rock ’n’ roll? Yeah, that sounds about right. But it misses a more important point—how impossible Thee Oh Sees have been been to pin down since Dwyer launched it in the late ’90s as a solo break from such sorely missed underground bands as Pink and Brown and Coachwhips. That restlessness extends to everything from the towering, thirteen-minute title track of 2010’s Warm Smile LP to the mercurial moods of 2008’s The Master’s Bedroom Is Worth Spending a Night In. And then there’s the home-brewed symphonies of Castlemania and the high-wire hooks of Carrion Crawler / The Dream, which dropped a second drum set among sunburnt organs, dovetailing guitars and rail-jumping rhythms. If one prefers a slightly more subtle musical awakening, there’s always Putrifiers II, the latest in a long line of Oh Sees albums that expands the group’s sound well past your friendly neighborhood garage band. So while the space-odyssey nods of “Wax Face” actually sound like they’re meant to melt one’s ears straight off, the record’s full of deviant detours, from the poison-tipped string parts and Eno-esque engineering of “So Nice” to the groove-locked Krautrock inclinations of “Lupine Dominus.” The most noticeable element may be Dwyer’s melodies, however, as they reveal a softer side to his songwriting, one that makes perfect sense considering just how disparate his dust-clearing influences are. Scott Walker, The Velvet Underground, The Zombies and the experimental Japanese act Les Rallizes Denudes are but a small taste of what informed Thee Oh Sees this time around, as Dwyer returned to the multi-instrumental ways of Castlemania—full-band sessions for another record are already underway—and rounded out a fuller, drier sound with drummer / engineer Chris Woodhouse and special guests like Mikal Cronin (sax), Heidi Maureen Alexander (trumpet, vocals) and K Dylan Edrich (viola).
Thee Oh Sees: Putrifiers II
Wax Face Thee Oh Sees 4'01''
Hang A Picture Thee Oh Sees 3'54''
So Nice Thee Oh Sees 3'52''
Cloud #1 Thee Oh Sees 1'45''
Flood's New Light Thee Oh Sees 2'32''
Putrifiers II Thee Oh Sees 6'10''
Will We Be Scared? Thee Oh Sees 5'23''
Lupine Dominus Thee Oh Sees 3'28''
Goodnight Baby Thee Oh Sees 3'28''
Wicked Park Thee Oh Sees 2'09''