San Fran’s Thee Oh Sees are just one of those bands that manage to take a tried and true formula, in this case, garage rock n roll, and consistently breath new life into it, but through some desperate attempt at re-invention but by doing something just quite fundamental to music – writing good songs. Their latest album (it’s been out a while) – Putrifiers II EP is further testament to their ability to do so, in spades, and, as any Oh Sees fan’ll know they do so both prolifically and with energy, originality and a sense of undeniable fun.
Kicking shiz off with a stomper rhythm and searing guitars juxtaposed cleverly with quasi-choral vocals interpolated by yelp exclamation points of Wax Face; there’s that clever twist of taking something familiar here and turning it upside down and inside out. Hang A Picture follows up and is one of my favorite tracks on the record – full of pop sensibility; purposely thin vocals sit atop a phat (yes with a ph) acid-y guitar line propelled but a friendly-folky rhythm. Then, So Nice thuds along as a wonderful psychedelic dirge – perfectly timed as third track in; Cloud #1 acts a penultimate side one reprieve before the ridiculously (good) Flood’s New Light replete with hooky ba-be-bah-bah singalong parts closes side one of the album.
Flipping over to two side to is a veritable monolith of a coupling – title track clock-strikes along for over six minutes followed by the gloriously doo-wapped Will We Be Scared? which drifts languidly and psychedelically like some weird foggy haze over a warm-wet swamp. It’s my favorite track on this record – it’s like I never want this five and a half minutes to end.
But when it does – it’s like some weird and wonderful radio transmission from mars is breaking through; Lupine Dominus is so freakishly good. Lo fi guitar weaves like smoke over a choppy-sea rhythm dancing with keyboards while a mermaids voice coaxes you to dangerous shore. Goodnight Baby is like a rock-n-roll lullaby, false ending the record with birdsong before the final medieval sounding epilog of Wicked Park bids you goodnight.
RATING : REALLY GREAT
I have always struggled with a numerical scale; it feels so finite and arbitrary.
So the CHEESE ON TOAST Scale looks like this :
FREAKIN’ AWESOME / JUST AWESOME / REALLY GREAT / GREAT / GOOD / PRETTY COOL / NOT BAD / COULD BE BETTER / PRETTY BAD, ACTUALLY / NOT RECOMMENDED FOR EARS
THE OH SEES are playing in Auckland on Thursday 7 February at Whammy (just before Camp A Low Hum weekend, jus’ sayin’)