Friday, April 25, 2014

Thee Oh Sees Drop Another Fuzzy Nine

John Dwyer Thee Oh Sees
Describing Thee Oh Sees as an addiction is especially fitting for frontman John Dwyer (Coachwhips, Yikes, The Hospitals). He originally started the band as an outlet for his experimental home recordings.

It wasn't enough. One album turned into several and his solo performance with guests grew into a full lineup, with Brigid Dawson (vocals, keyboard), Petey Dammit (bass, guitar), and Mike Shoun (drums). They have their share of guest collaborators too with seven albums in six years.

Make it eight. Not five months after Dwyer said the band was taking a break (which made sense given the Coachwhips reunion and five straight years on the road), they broke out another album instead. It's a brilliant one too, enough so for the band to book a few festivals.

Drop is nine tracks of psychedelic fuzz rock bliss.

Featuring a few more musicians in the lineup, including Chris Woodhouse, Mikal Cronin, and Greer McGettrick to name a few, Drop is a well-composed studio album that oozes some acid rock oddities for inspiration with some well-timed distortions as only the Thee Oh Sees can do.

As their eighth installment, Drop ushers in a new appreciation for more mellow grooves. There are certainly some hardcore elements in the mix but most of this is all about placing new traction on the well-worn psychedelia genre. For all that is different, Drop feels instantly familiar.

The title track, Drop, is one of the more vibrant songs. It balances an incarnation of sixties visionary rock with early punk rawness. In the process, they create something instinctually fun and memorable.

Drop isn't the only track interested in hitting heavy and the hazy spectrum of garage rock at the same time. Penetrating Eye opens the album with a reverb cocktail. After a deceptively soft start, it shakes up into a heavy-handed guitar drone and laid back la, la vocals.

Encrypted Bounce has a nice free-spirited sonic sound, interrupted occasionally by some sharply plucked steel strings. Savage Victory keeps this sentiment at a much slower, more purposeful pace. The low-throated bursts of guitar and bass give the track a bit of a grunge effect.

Put Some Reverb On My Brother attempts to work the band out of this direction, but the tie-dyed pop of it never really grabs hold like the rest of the album. Drop does a better job breaking the album up and swinging into Camera, one of the more lyrically poignant songs that takes a stab at selfies.

King's Nose is an ambitious mix with some master strokes straight out of the seventies. The addition of strings and a baroque harpsichord makes the song sway while it winds up for another expected burst. That burst never really comes from the noisy and fuzzed up Transparent World nor the softly sung drifter The Lens.

Instead of ending on a natural high, The Lens seems to let the entire album close with a whisper. This isn't necessarily a bad thing given Dwyer's ability to harmonize with a lightness seldom heard in half a century. It conjures up vivid images of floating away for away for awhile, which touches on what the band wants to do.

Drop By Thee Oh Sees Lands 7.8 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

Seven of the nine tracks resonate strongly enough to lift up two laggards on the album. While either will have an opportunity to grow on anyone listening to the album, top to bottom, neither one can stand on its own without the support of the surrounding tracks. Had they been, then Drop could have hit the nines.

Regardless, it's still an outstanding outtake from a band willing to march to its own beat while paying homage to a few bands who did the same. The album will make a great addition to any collection. You can download it from iTunes or order Drop from Amazon. You can also find Drop by Thee Oh Sees at Barnes & Noble and keep up with the band on Facebook.
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