Monday, March 10, 2008

Thee Oh Sees - The Master's Bedroom is Worth Spending a Night In (and why this band deserves to be far more famous than it is.)

Everything I said about that last Oh Sees record? Forget it. The band that evolved from OCS into the Ohsees has officially become Thee Oh Sees, a project nowhere near the remains of what was once OCS; the band has transformed gradually over the course of five albums, from solo project to duo to quartet to brand-spankin' new quartet. Percussionist/singing saw master Patrick Mullins left about a year ago, opting to go to baking school, and was officially replaced by drummer Mike Shoun. Completed by guitarist Petey Dammit! and co-vocalist/tambourine rocker Brigid Dawson, the group looks and sounds more excited than it's ever been, and Dwyer's punk energy has returned for the first time since post-Coachwhips (alternate) side project Yikes.

Thee Oh Sees opened an amazing show at downtown venue the Smell last night, kicking off a grand lineup which included Clipd Beaks, Old Time Relijun and the Mae Shi. They were even the night's highlight, perhaps, packing the tiny front room early on. Watching Dwyer perform, I see so many characters in him at once: a drug addict, a cartoon character, an eight-year old boy playing air guitar, a Venice surfer, and the greatest fucking rock star on the planet. As far as I can prove, he's none of these except for, possibly, the last. He's a genius of an all-around performer, adaptable enough for folk but at his prime when bouncing every which way and manipulating his guitar like it's a fight target. He and Dawson work perfectly together as a singing pair, like a cat and dog duo in an animated kid caper – Yip Yip! Ruff! Ohhhhahh! Wop! Zip! Holy popcorn, Batman.

Thee Oh Sees are a hell of a time on record, and even more so in a live setting. Especially now that they've got a brand new record to showcase, The Master's Bedroom is Worth Spending a Night In, a fair return to punk form for Dwyer. The bass-heavy beats and dirty melodies of songs like “Visit Colonel” and “Grease 2” comprise loosely-termed rockabilly stomps, while “Ghost in the Trees” offers up some balls-out, surf-style guitar solos and slinky rhythm. Bonus track “Koka Kola Jingle” is the only bit on the record to resemble the band's lo-fi folk work from OCS effort 3&4.

For those who desire more indie-fuck-friendly fare (pardon the coincidental alliteration), fret not – after last year's Kelley Stoltz-produced adventure, The Master's Bedroom features go-to guy Dave Sitek on mellotron and organ (“Graveyard Drug Party” and “You Will See This Dog Before You Die,” respectively). Unrelated but additionally, the drummer to appear on the last official Ohsees record, Jigmae Baer, plays drums on these two tracks as well as “Maria Stacks.”

Highlights here include opener (and show-stealer) “Block of Ice” and swinger “Adult Acid,” the latter a piece which would suit any Dead Moon fan just fine. There's little filler here if at all - “The Coconut,” or “You Will See This Dog,” maybe? Not only would I refer to The Master's Bedroom as the best release yet from the Oh Sees/OCS, but I would even dare to call this the best project Dwyer's come up with since the Coachwhips. It's the truth!

Thee Oh Sees – Block of Ice

Thee Oh Sees – Grease 2

Pre-order The Master's Bedroom is Worth Spending a Night In (Available April 4)
Or buy a CD directly from the band, as they are on tour.

(You should buy this record not only because the band deserves your support like nothing else, but for the 1) two CD-only bonus tracks and 2) nifty, Dwyer-esque cover art by William Keihn.)

(On a side note related to Saturday's lineup, a presently-moustachioed Arrington de Dionyso of Old Time Relijun now resembles Jeff Foxworthy. On another side note, the double-up mics and grungy bass lines of Clipd Beaks are mind-blowing in person. I wanted every song to go on forever!)


HI SHADOW said...

ah, i was at that show, it was so good. oh sees totally stole the show, and they played first! haha.

China said...

Yeah, I'd definitely agree that they were the highlight of the night, though I was pretty blown away by Clipd Beaks after having never heard them before. Ignore no more!

By the way, I looked up your band from your profile link. Fun! I think I'll try to see your next Smell show.

HI SHADOW said...

haha awesome, i'd love to see ya there! i think it's gonna be an awesome show. talbot tagora rips shit up live, and of course abe vigoda rules live. we are super pumped!

black&blue said...

petey plays the guitar

China said...

Balls! I even noticed this the last time I watched them play. Patooey. Thanks for the note.