Tag Archives: thee oh sees

Stream: Dylan Shearer – “garragearray”

Sometimes it’s good to just clear away all the distorted guitars, strip off the distortion, the tape hiss and reverb; just keep everything really clear and really simple. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t keep things interesting after stripping away all these things. Truth be told, it makes things even more interesting in some ways.

Acoustic guitars, piano, subdued vocals and drums lay down the foundation for Dylan Shearer’s “garragearray” LP, out last month on John Dwyer’s Castle Face records. Each track situates itself a little closer to the listener in a few different ways, not the least of which is this stripping away of extraneous effects and distortion; there’s also an element of rhythmic elasticity within many of the tracks. Phrases stretch out, slow down, add a few beats to a bar here and there, maybe just warp time a little bit to where it’s difficult to even tell what the meter is really supposed to be in the first place. And to have these elements of aleatory inserted into the songs without them coming off sounding like mistakes, having them grow in an organic way, that’s really interesting.

There are also some really unique harmonic choices going on throughout some of the songs. Chords slip in and out of the key, leaning more towards another tonality for measures at a time before comfortably slipping back the very same way that they entered. Every element of the songs throughout “garragearray,” because of these elements, and because of Shearer’s voice – itself shades of Nick Drake with it’s relaxed, though possibly agonized near mumble – that the album just feels more like a living breathing organism than some sterile studio effort. It’s a great take on the singer/songwriter tradition. And the delicate, carefully crafted melodies within the choruses shouldn’t be overlooked. A tune like the one found in “meadow mines (fort poilio)” is something that will stay with you for a while after listening.

“garragearray” is available on CD and limited vinyl as well as download from the Empty Cellar Records bandcamp site. It might also be worth mentioning that Petey Dammit from Thee Oh Sees plays bass on this album.

Stream: Trin Tran – “Fashion Has Happened to Fashion”

You learn something new every day. Today I learned that John Dwyer likes to keep busy at all times. Well, I guess we all knew that before, as it was pretty obvious from Thee Oh Sees’ catalog that he wasn’t satisfied to ever sit still. But now since his band has begun their sabbatical (as we’ll call it. The word “hiatus” never ends well) his restlessness and relentlessness has only grown.

Dwyer’s new solo album under the name Damaged Bug is out now through his Castle Face imprint, and he’s been releasing (and re-releasing, or otherwise unearthing) some other great stuff too on a weekly basis. That’s the thing that I learned today, that John Dwyer is just feeding us a steady stream of great music.

Trin Tran
Trin Tran

The one that I decided to pull today comes from Trin Tran. Apparently a one-man show, the music is gritty, static-y and maybe even a little dark. It’s hard to tell if the guitar is a little out of tune from the synth, or if the tubes of said synth were allowed to get too hot and it is the thing that is out of tune. Either way, it sounds pretty great. A trashy guitar plucks delicately at un-tuned strings while the synth buzzes along, eventually adding a syncopated high attack that adds a tinge of sarcasm, a sideways glance to those looking for something to dance to. Those people are going to have to look elsewhere.

Check out the track “Fashion Has Happened to Fashion” on Soundcloud above and then head over to  Castle Face to grab what I’m sure is an extremely limited number of copies of the “Far Reaches” EP. There are still some copies available on Galaxian Mist colored vinyl.

 

Stream: John Dwyer – “Eggs at Night” and my Top 10 Thee Oh Sees tracks

John Dwyer - "Hubba Bubba"
John Dwyer – “Hubba Bubba”

Frontman of Thee Oh Sees, John Dwyer, is releasing a solo album entitled “Hubba Bubba.” You can hear the synth heavy (more like exclusively synth) track “Eggs at Night” below.

Last month Thee Oh Sees announced from the stage that “This will be the last Oh Sees show for a long while. So dig in.” I learned about it on twitter and quickly started to feel panic set in. It was impossible for me to fathom not having a few new albums by Thee Oh Sees coming out at the steady clip that they have been for the past several years. I see them as the lynchpin that holds the San Francisco scene together. When we all heard that the band was going on a break at first we all went to the worst cast scenario, which would be that we would never hear from them again (though that seems absolutely ridiculous thinking about it now. There is no way that John Dwyer could be away from music for any length of time, let’s be honest. So even if there weren’t any Thee Oh Sees shows he would still be creating music in some form, either solo or with Ty Segall. By the way, why hasn’t that happened yet? That seems like an obvious matchup…but I digress) and then we all came to the realization that a “long while” for a band like Thee Oh Sees, that have been touring non-stop for the past 5 years, is probably only a few months.

So I’m not intending this post to be a send-off to Thee Oh Sees by any stretch. I just want to take a minute and maybe get some other people interested in the band that may only have a passing familiarity with them. Thee Oh Sees are probably the last band that I have gotten really heavily, obsessively into, after seeing them only one time I was hooked. Their live show is amazing, and I can’t even begin to imagine how tiring it must be for them to do it over and over and over again. Not just tiring from the physical standpoint, but also add to that the fact that they are typically playing a very similar set night after night. It’s become noticeable of late that the jammy extensions of songs are getting jammier, which I think might be a way for the band to try to find new ways to keep things interesting. I’m assuming that this time away is just going to result in throwing all of the old songs out of the set-list and starting over again. Clear it out and start again.

With that in mind, I’d like to give my top 10 tracks by Thee Oh Sees. Sure, some of them are in regular rotation on their (former) set-list, but I don’t think that their live show really gives an idea of the band’s range.

1. “No Spell” off of their most recent album, 2013’s “Floating Coffin.” Now, it is really hard to choose a song from this album, there are just so many great tunes. “No Spell” sits toward the middle of the album, tucked away between songs that are more typical Oh Sees fare. I think that what really does it for me is the textless “chorus.” It’s just different enough from anything that they have ever done, and just has a great emotional grab to it. It’s not the typical structure that one would come to expect either.

No Spell

2. “Tidal Wave” from a 7″ b/w “Heart Sweats.” Short and sweet and right to the point. The clipped guitar style in the verse with the slap-back echo that bursts into another textless chorus with John’s yell. It’s just catchy as hell, and may go unnoticed by some because it doesn’t appear on an album….though it has probably been heard by more people than any other song of theirs thanks to it being used in Breaking Bad.

Tidal Wave

3. “Enemy Destruct” from “Help.” There are few bands that know how to open an album as well as Thee Oh Sees do. This is definitely a set-list staple, and for good reason. The guitar stomps through each beat with great intensity. Noisy throughout, and heavy.

Enemy Destruct
4. “Stinking Cloud” from “Castlemania.” This album just doesn’t fit in with any of the others. It’s experimental for them. John sings in an affected croak, saxophones and flutes appear on many of the songs, there are acoustic tracks that trot out a distinct Kinks influence. This track in particular is a bit of a slow burn, with some oddly insightful lyrics.

Stinking Cloud

5. “The Dream” from “Carrion Crawler/The Dream.” This album is the one. If you need to know where to start with this band, this is it. And this song is maybe their best live. You have to imagine this songs going almost twice as fast when it’s played live. And as soon as those opening chords start to ring out in all their open-stringed glory, all hell is about to break loose and you had better hold on.

The Dream

6. “Lupine Dominus” from “Putrifiers II.” This one let’s the not-quite hidden krautrock come out, sounding closer to something that Cave would release, but it still makes complete sense. Psych-krautrock.

Lupine Dominus

7. “I Was Denied” from “Warm Slime.” Another anthemic live staple. How could you even go wrong with a song that has a line “I got fucked up, suffice to say. la la la la la, lalalala la, lalalala la, lalala la…” Bonus points for the brief freakout toward the middle of the song.

I Was Denied

8. “Toe Cutter-Thumb Buster” from “Floating Coffin.” Amazing opening. The last time that I saw them live this is the track with which they opened. The piercing squeal of feedback followed by the bone-crushing low end distortion is something that can’t be beat and will never not be effective.

Toe Cutter – Thumb Buster

9. “Meat Step Lively” from “Help.” Another live regular, though they don’t include the flute part live.

Meat Step Lively

10. “The Coconut” from “The Master’s Bedroom is Worth Spending a Night In.” I picked this one just because it is another one of those songs that show the band stretching out and trying new things. It’s moody, a bit slower, and focuses a bit more on vocal harmonies and lengthier, more legato melodies in the verses.

The Coconut

Supposedly, despite the hiatus (JPD insists that the band is not breaking up), there will be a new album released within the next month or two. I will definitely be covering that as soon as I can get my hands on it. Until then, enjoy these, and enjoy the solo track.

New music from Basic Cable, Thee Oh Sees and The Delay in the Universal Loop

I have a few different things that I’m working on right now that are going to take some more time to write than I have right now, but luckily I have an inbox full of music that I am trying to get through. I figure that now, toward the end of the year where new releases are getting fewer and farther between that I would do some housecleaning and share with you some of the very worthwhile stuff that I have been checking out.

First up is some heavy garage rock coming from our friends at Permanent Records in Chicago and L.A. The band is Basic Cable and the release is titled “I’m Good to Drive.” Officially released just two days ago “I’m good to drive” is the 39th release on Permanent Records’ own label. The track is a lot cleaner in production than other garagey offerings coming our way from the P-rex crew, but still delivers all the noise and reckless abandon that anyone could hope for. Take a listen to the track “Blonde Ambition” below.


Next up: what kind of a week would it be if Thee Oh Sees didn’t release something. The stream of non-stop ass-kickers continues with “What You Need (The Porch Boogie Thing),” reminding us that the band has released their 3rd singles collection, available now from Castle Face, there are still a few copies of the Pepto Pink vinyl left, as well as CDs. Listen to the track below, it’s exactly what you’d expect from Thee Oh Sees, and they are never ones to disappoint. Oh, and while you are over there at Castle Face, why not pick up a copy of the new White Fence Live in San Francisco recording, and I should add that I picked up the Fuzz EP live from the San Francisco Eagle, and that record (recorded direct to tape) sounds amazing. Guitar crunch and gut punching bass for days.

Thee Oh Sees – What You Need (The Porch Boogie Thing)

And now for something completely different. The Delay in the Universal Loop is from Benevento, Italy and they just released an album this past week entitled “Disarmonia.” The track below is “Spasmodica,” a song which starts off delicately enough, but takes a few twists and turns in the course of 4 minutes. The 17 year old Dylan Luliano is responsible for every aspect of the album, playing all the instruments, singing and writing all of the songs. More information and tons of links can be found here. “Disarmonia” is available worldwide right now. And you should maybe act fast because apparently there are an extremely (30?!) limited number of physical copies available. Head to the bandcamp page to check it out. 
 

 

Enjoy those, and follow the links to some of the other stuff available from the Factum Est and Permanent Records soundcloud pages. Lots of worth stuff there.

Best of 2013: Fuzz s/t

Fuzz - "Fuzz"
Fuzz – “Fuzz”

I know that I’ve at least mentioned this album in passing before during past posts, but now that I have finally had the chance to actually sit down and listen to it a few times I figure that it would be a good time to actually talk a bit about it.

Ty Segall, famous for being almost comically prolific, releasing several albums a year, usually with at least a few different bands, has released an album with his newest band Fuzz that features Ty on drums while retaining vocal duties. This, actually, isn’t the only thing that Fuzz will release by the end of the year. In addition to this self-titled debut release they’ve put out two 7″(1, 2) and then there is a live album that just came out this week, recorded in San Francisco at the Eagle, Ty’s home base, for his birthday in which Fuzz, along with Total Control, opened for Thee Oh Sees.

In that teaser one can hear Ty being barely able to contain his excitement when drumming, as the pulse ebbs and flows with each verse and chorus, but Mootheart and bassist Roland Cosio follow Ty’s lead.

And though the garage elements of Ty’s music will surely never go away, they are part of who he is, I think that Charlie Mootheart’s guitar style and tone adds a bit more of a Black Sabbath, early classic rock vibe to all of the tracks. His thick, bonecrushing, distorted guitar tone is way up front on this one. It seems that for the most part, despite Ty being center stage, that Mootheart is actually the “frontman.” His endless and effortless solo work merges seamlessly with his duties as rhythm guitarist. Sometimes, for example on the opening track “Earthen Gate,” he can take the entire song in an unexpected direction, and with a simple harmonic shift pulls the band in a completely different direction.

Though similar in certain ways to Ty’s “Slaughterhouse” album, the hard-driving energy blast that propels these songs takes them out of the territory of sludge in which many of the tracks of “Slaughterhouse” seemed to live. The energy is directed, while the overall sound is allowed to remain more or less raw. The solid guitar work is underpinned with Ty’s explosive drum fill blasts that pop up at every opportunity.

I’d say that this album falls squarely into the category of stoner rock, if that even means anything. But, seriously, nothing screams “sitting in a dimly lit basement bedroom with a group of friends surrounding a bong” than that album cover art. Steady, straight ahead, heavy garage thrash. Stoner blues as I’ve read it described elsewhere online. Songs like “Hazemaze” sound like a few dudes just jamming on 4 chords. Power chords in the verse, solo riffs in the chorus. Simple formula, but contrasting a staid verse with an unhinged chorus is something that works, just ask Thee Oh Sees. In “Hazemaze” Ty gets a chance to really stretch out and show off his drum chops, wildly filling in any and all empty spaces between sections. Another track, like a combination of “Hazemaze” and “Earthen Gate,” “Loose Sutures” takes the 4 chord jam to surprising territory in the verse, and to an honest shredding guitar solo that really allows Mootheart to let loose for a while before giving Ty another shot.

Probably my favorite of Ty’s releases to date. From the classic rock guitar stylings that are brought out more than on any of his other projects, to the more direct and punishing material like “Preacher,” this is really a bit different than anything that Ty has been involved with, though not too different. It’s not like anyone is going to listen to this album and be surprised that it’s a Ty Segall album, but if one is to listen closely it’s Ty’s music coming to us from a different angle. Worth a listen or two, which you can do with the handy youtube video below. You can also head over to Midheaven Mail Order to purchase “Fuzz.”

 

Best albums of 2013: White Fence – “Cyclops Reap”

White Fence - "Cyclops Reap"
White Fence – “Cyclops Reap”

I find it hard to believe that I haven’t written about this album already. I’ve had it for so long that I couldn’t even remember if it came out this year or last, but how could I have forgotten that 2012 was the year of “Family Perfume Vols. 1 and 2”?

Never before has consistency felt so good. On “Cyclops Reap” we’re given 11 more tracks of maximum grit and garage-folk. Probably the best work that we’ve heard from Tim Presley to date. Every song on here would be at home on a year end mix.

I’m going to be talking about the Foxygen album that came out this year as well, soon, but for those of you that have heard that album you’d know that they share a post-modern take on indie rock. It’s definitely been mentioned on many blogs other than mine that White Fence takes its cues from The Left Banke, which is a route that I don’t think many other people have been taking lately. The fact that Presley is attached to the San Francisco scene that also includes the likes of Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees provides connections between those diverse acts in ways that are improbable, though when White Fence and Ty Segall worked together on “Hair” a few years ago, Ty injected some serious noise and energy into White Fence’s sometime lulling, folk sound.

Live On Genevieve

Songs like “Beat” shamble through the speakers in an endless verse with no real beginning and no real ending. “Cyclops Reap,” like all previous material from White Fence comes off sounding like a mixtape that a friend has handed you of stuff that they have been working on at home on their 4-track tape-recorder. The only difference here being that this is worth listening to. The fragmented nature of some of the songs lends a lot to the sound. One simple idea per song, and sometimes that idea is developed a little further in the next. It’s a stream of consciousness of sorts that carries the listener through the album.

There is a lot more lead guitar action on this album than previous. Whenever there are no lyrics, there is a guitar soloing around in the background, lending an added layer that I don’t think has been explored too much on “Family Perfume” or “…Is Growing Faith.” Take “Trouble is Trouble Never Seen.” The wildly strummed acoustic guitar is doubled by a static distorted electric, and a simple 2-part melody, until the lead line comes in and the song immediately begins to fall apart. Twice. Beautifully.

To the Boy I Jumped in the Hemlock Alley

Following “Trouble is Trouble Never Seen,” “Live On Genevieve” begins with several of the aforementioned fragments cutting in and out. But I think that my favorite track off of “Cyclops Reap” has to be “To the Boy I Jumped in the Hemlock Alley.” The slide guitar melody that comes in and out of play, the incessant interruptions from the overly reverb drenched organ. The whole thing ends up sounding like 60’s psych folk one second and then demented country music the next.

If you haven’t gotten on board with White Fence then start here. Or, alternatively, you could wait maybe another month or two, as I’m sure that Presley won’t be able to not release anything for very long.

Speaking of which, he has recently put out a live album on John Dwyer’s (Thee Oh Sees) Castleface Records. “White Fence Live in San Francisco” was released earlier this month (November 5, 2013) and you can pick up a copy from Midheaven mailorder here. Though I haven’t caught him/them live yet, I’m sure that when I do it is going to be one to remember.

Stream: New 12″ EP from Kurt Vile and Ty Segall’s latest.

Kurt Vile, whom I talked about not at all that long ago releases a follow up “Walkin on a Pretty Daze” from earlier this year. “It’s a big world out there (and I’m scared)” comes out today on Matador. You can listen to the breezy track above. This is a 12″ release, but isn’t a full album, instead “It’s a big world…” is an EP with some reworkings and a few new songs. I prefer this way of staying in the spotlight and staying relevant, getting people to pay attention to your music by constantly creating it. I wish that Arcade Fire would get the hint.

“Feel My Pain” sounds like something that could have very easily fit into “Walkin…” with its fingerpicked acoustic guitar and super laid back vocals. This stays completely within Vile’s aesthetic, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, especially for someone like Vile, who already doesn’t sound like anyone else.

I also wanted to bring your attention to Ty Segall’s new band, or newest…or maybe they aren’t his newest band anymore, because its been a few months and he could very easily have joined a dozen or more bands in the interim. But anyway, his newest project is called Fuzz, and yes, it’s pretty much exactly what one would expect from Ty at this point. Loud garage rock from San Francisco. He pretty much embodies this sound now.


The latest video begins more like a short film than a performance video, with Ty and Fuzz guitarist Charlie Mootheart loading up their van after a set-up shot that featured the clarinet opening from Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” We get a sampling of the super distorted rumbling of the band’s sound before the video focuses a bit on non-musical material before we finally get the performance.

The band’s sound lies somewhere between pure punk rock and a latter day Black Sabbath. The classic rock and blues influences are strong in Mootheart’s riffs and harmonizing with the bass, locking down a strong groove, with Ty on drums, no less. Is there anything that dude can’t do?

I was lucky enough to catch these guys back in July, in San Francisco, opening for Thee Oh Sees. Their energy was intense and didn’t fade at all throughout the set. I’m hoping that Ty keeps this around for at least a few minutes and puts out a few albums before moving on to something else. But I guess that only time will tell.