Thee Oh Sees
Styles: romper-stomper rock with a peculiar, baby-talk edge that's nearly impossible to pinpoint
Others: Coachwhips, Dig That Body Up It's Alive, Hospitals, Burmese
It might seem counterproductive, but it’s just the opposite; scads of bands, putting out material at a break-neck rate like it’s the ’60s again and Dunhill is pestering The Mamas & Papas for their second full-length record in the space of a year. Of course J. Phillips and M. Cass were slouches compared to groups like The Fresh & Onlys, Ty Segall, and Thee Oh Sees, all of whom consider releasing two albums and a slew of 7-inches per year as not only a rite of the Rocker, but also their duty.
The result, perhaps culminating in ’09, has been a raging river of garage/punk of surprisingly high quality, given the dearth of serviceable punk that preceded it early in the decade. I would say the trio mentioned above RULED 2009, as many have in the blogosphere, but there’s so much more to it that I hesitate to take the narrow view. If you think about the impact of groups like — just to mention a few — J. R-tard, Wavves, Tyvek, Black Time, Intelligence, Times New Viking, The Reigning Sound, et al, narrowing it all down seems ridiculous.
The question is, when does it all become too much? With dozens of record labels — including Kill Shaman, In The Red, Captured Tracks, Tomlab, Life Is Hell — willing to put out their product, when will Thee Oh Sees blight what has been a great track record through excursions like Sucks Blood, Cool Death of Island Raiders, and OCS’ remarkable numbered albums?
Take a deep breath/chill pill if you’ve been worried; Dog Poison holds true to Oh Sees’ most treasured audio axioms, presenting a kitchen-sink approach that crams most of what we’ve been loving about John Dwyer’s latest outfit — not to mention his Yikes side-deal-y — into one overcrowded, pink-’n’-brown orifice. Keeping with their penchant for brevity, Dog Poison is but 20-odd minutes long.
It’s long enough, however, to:
• meld effects with barnstorming rockin’ in a way few Oh Sees efforts have.
• embrace a production style with even more echo heaped atop it than ever.
• push Joy Division even more directly into the underground spectrum with bass lines straight outta Control (which I would say were Blank Dogs-ish if, you know, BD weren’t pulling from the same source material).
• present yet another side of Oh Sees with wild, drunken whiskey-fucks like “Voice in the Mirror,” so out of control and erect you could fill 85 pants-tents with its bravado.
• offer more elusively beautiful duets between Dwyer and Brigid Dawson.
• allow your allegiance to the quartet — if you do, indeed, swear your allegiance — to continue.
• change your day without taking up too much of your time.
When I think about all the history behind Thee Oh Sees and specifically Mr. Dwyer (Landed, Pink & Brown, the bands in the “others” category up top), I can only marvel at how consistently brilliant his output has been. Here’s to 9 LPs, 5 7-inches, a split, and a 3-inch CD-R in ’10!
1. The River Rushes (To Screw Me Over)
2. Fake Song
3. The Fizz
4. Sugar Boat
5. Head Of State
6. I Can’t Pay You To Disappear
7. The Sun
8. Voice In The Mirror
9. Dead Energy
10. It’s Nearly Over