Steve Wilson. On music.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thee Oh Sees - carrion crawler/the dream ep (In The Red)

Ah, it’s sweet really. The noise generation is meeting me half-way. I remember back in 2003 when a young pal tried to introduce me to Pink & Brown. I try to keep an open mind. Really, I do. My shelves are full of records and discs with music that the average listener would call noise. But I always viewed noise as something that best served as energy and expression tools for … I dunno, songs? From the MC5 to Sonic Youth the racket was seasoning and juicing to rock ‘n’ roll. So, all this Pink & Brown, Lightning Bolt shit left me perplexed. I love a racket, but this was a new kind of racket – primitive, artless, tuneless. Meh. Was I missing something?

Well, the answer is: a) not really and b) maybe a little something.

Which leads us to our man John Dwyer, he’s the prolific force behind Pink & Brown, the Coachwhips, Hospitals, and most recently Thee Oh Sees (among others). The Coachwhips wanted to be the Oblivians but were without the limited skills and lyric sensibility required for such homage. But they were better than Pink & Brown. The Hospitals? I never listened to them enough to have much of an opinion. When I heard Dwyer had yet another band - this one called Thee Oh Sees, I approached them with trepidation.

But from the beginning I kinda liked what I heard. In addition to the annals of noise racket, Dwyer seemed to have absorbed lessons from psychedelia (the kind with spaces between the noises) as well as the urgent, fuzz-toned rhythms of the bands that were featured on Crypt Records Back from the Grave compilations. Thee Oh Sees release something new every four months (okay, close to it). Seriously, they’ve put out about thirteen records in seven years (under various monikers, relying on TOS for the last four or so years), depending on what you count and who’s counting. The band’s latest offering carrion crawler/the dream EP (lower case is theirs’) is an arresting synthesis of the various strains that run through the band’s music, especially a combination of Help’s psycho-trips and Castlemania’s Cali-garage-pop, music that sounded touched by San Francisco garage peers like Ty Segall and the Fresh and Onlys.