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Tag: thee oh sees

Haunting Reverbtoned Psychedelia From Galanos

“Loneliest of men at the bottom of the world,” Galanos’ Netochka Nezvanova and Gregory D. Jaw intone, low and hushed over his lingering, reverb-iced guitar, building to a stomping, echoing buzzsaw attack on the opening track of their debut album Deceiver Receiver. It’s streaming at Bandcamp and it’s today’s luscious installment in this month’s series of Halloweenish daily treats for you.

Let’s cut to the chase: this is one of the best albums of the year. There’s a gutter blues influence, some Thee Oh Sees dark garage-psych and some Black Angels ambience here as well, but they evoke more menace than either of those groups. With the guy/girl vocals, they’re sort of the X of dark 21st century rock.

Nezvanova’s voice rises calm and elegaic over a catchy clangrock melody anchored by Joe Puglsey’s fuzz bass in the second track, Padre Song, a poison underground spring of a guitar solo at the center. Flashbomb mashes up a hailstorm of noisy PiL reverb over steady new wave bass and John Steele’s Atrocity Exhiibition drums beneath Jaw’s alienated beat-poet recitation.

“Recognize it’s transitory, life is fleeting,” Nezvanova intones as Mariana Trench vamps along, a Lynchian roadhouse boogie. Eerie Syd Barrett chords ring over carpetbombing reverb-tank pings and echoes in the brief instrumental dirge Letters From Home. Then the band pick it up again with Stunner, a mashup of growling new wave and chimey surf rock, and do the same with Mr. Friend, but with more of a minimalist Joy Division feel.

The album’s catchiest track, Dead Leaves has an ominous retro Laurel Canyon psych feel, like the Allah-La’s with the amps turned up all the way. Bleak, stygian atmospherics punctuated by the occasional ghost of a surf riff filter through the final cut, Feel Good, the album’s druggiest, most macabre track. Dare you to make this the last thing you listen to tonight.

Reverb Monsters Thee Oh Sees Flip the Script in Their Return to Bowery Ballroom

Is Thee Oh Sees’ September 8, 10 PM show at Bowery Ballroom going to be a wash since it’s right after the Labor Day weekend? Probably not, since the band had been on hiatus for much of this past year while frontman John Dwyer took care of Castle Face label business. And most everybody who’s coming back to town will be back by then. So if assaultively glimmering, reverb-drenched psychedelic garage rock is your thing, you should plan on getting to the venue a little early; general admission is $20.

Thee Oh Sees’ latest album – their fourteenth release –  is Manipulator Defeated At Last (streaming at Soundcloud), and it’s a real curveball, an unexpectedly successful departure into retro 80s tropes. If you thought you knew this band, you’re in for all sorts of surprises – good ones. The opening track, Web starts out as a coy new wave strut until Dwyer comes in and throws lighter fluid on everything – is it a spoof? Maybe. Probably. The twin guitars doing a horn chart toward the end is period-perfect 80s.

Halloweenish whistling wind sonics and a slinky bassline explode into an early Joy Division stomp in Withered Head. Likewise, Poor Queen welds a lingering Daniel Ash-ish reverb guitar riff to a skittish 2/4 beat. Then Dwyer mashes up galloping garage rock with Syd Barrett and a tongue-in-cheek early 70s stoner rock riff in Turned Out Light.

Lupine Ossuary – you just gotta love this guy’s song titles – is Link Wray as Barrett would have done it,  a surrealistically squalling one-chord jam. In what has become a sadistic formula, Dwyer juxtaposes a dreamily cinematic, serpentine early 60s organ theme with crushing guitars in Sticky Hulks: it’s the most psychedelic track here.

Acoustic guitars – WTF?!?! – build a web in tandem with the organ as the uneasy motorik theme Holy Smokes gets underway and remains in the fast lane. By contrast, Rogue Planet is sort of Wire as done by Guided by Voices. The album winds up with the murderously lingering, shuffling Palace Doctor, an ambling, ominously vamping, latin-tinged take on vintage Bauhaus. Wow. We take this band for granted and they just keep putting out great albums, this being one of their best.

Tantalizingly Short Songs From Punk Band Girl Tears

LA punk band Girl Tears‘ album Tension – streaming at Bandcamp – has the same spirit as Guided by Voices’ latest one, Cool Planet. The band teases you with songs that flash by in two minutes or considerably less, which could easily go on three or four times as long as they do without being boring. But just like the Dead Kennedys – a group they don’t resemble, for what it’s worth – they like short songs. They also like minor keys and uneasy, unpredictable postpunk chord changes, in the same vein as early Wire. Some of these fragmentary tunes – a lot of them with just a single verse and a blip of a chorus – sound like the Hussy without the weed. Others bring to mind Thee Oh Sees without all the noise and the lengthy intros and outros: you could pack most of this album into a long Oh Sees jam.

The opening track, Kill For Love, isn’t particularly murderous, a fuzzy downstroke punk guitar tune that’s over in barely two minutes. The barely minute-long Jinx sets the tone for wickedly catchy major-minor guitar changes: “I’m just shit” is the reverb-drenched vocal mantra. With its tumbling drumrolls, Lobotomy is the first Oh Sees soundalikes, albeit a lot more succinct. The band follows that with the steady, sarcastic Dream Baby, which wraps up in about a minute, followed by Candy Darling, which takes a classic, Lynchian noir pop tune and punks it out.

Alone packs an awful lot of cool, unexpected chord changes and hints of glamrock into just a verse and a chorus. Because brings back the noir punk vibe, followed by Suffocate (as in “I’ll hold you til you suffocate.”) There’s also a small handful of lickety-split hardcore numbers: Never Again, the kiss-off dis You’re Nothing, and the viciously chromatic title track, where the bass finally gets to emerge from the sonic morass for a second with the drums before disappearing again into the maelstrom. Because the album’s so short, it’s best appreciated as a whole. Blast it after a bad day at work or school and you’ll be better off. Oh yeah – it’s available on cassette!!!

The Hussy Bring Their Pagan Hiss to Death By Audio

Loud, entertaining Madison, Wisconsin duo the Hussy just keep getting better and better. Bobby Hussy’s guitar playing has gotten really good, and very eclectic. Lately he’s had a thing for reverb: his amp settings and effects are a lot more varied than in the band’s early days. They pretty much grew up in public, starting out playing stoner hardcore punk before going off in several other tangents. In the beginning, Heather Hussy’s drumming could have been called charmingly erratic, but months of nonstop touring have made her rock-solid. And she’s a good singer, too! They’re at Death by Audio on 6/27 at around 11 PM for a measly seven bucks.

Their new album Pagan Hiss – streaming at their Bandcamp page –  kicks off with a wicked biker rock riff and revs up into Thee Oh Sees style noir girlgroup pop, a style they revisit with a reverbtoned snarl a little later. They like short songs: a handful of the lickety-split numbers here recall X on Wild Gift. Another one is totally 60s fuzztone garage rock but without the fuzz. The seventh cut, Woodland Creature begins with an unexpectedly sedate acoustic hook and builds to a haunted castle worth of guitar mulitracks: imagine Steve Kilbey producing the Gun Club circa 1985. There’s also a creepy southwestern blues that reminds of the Sideshow Tragedy, a funny little rant called Hate This Town, a brief found-sound montage, a defiant punk song titled Dying (“They said it was my time, but I don’t know,” Heather sneers) and a considerably more than slight return to the swamp rock menace. Psychedelic punk rock has seldom been this much fun or diverse.

Another Trippy, Murky Album from Thee Oh Sees

If you’re into garage rock or psychedelia, you might be interested to know that Thee Oh Sees have yet another album out. Putrifiers II is everything you’d expect from the band: warped Brian Jonestown Massacre rambles, pitchblende Black Angels atmospherics and a couple of tracks that sound like Stereolab gazing up from the bottom of a well. Everything here follows a wobbly path straight back to Syd Barrett.

Unexpected flamenco tinges kick off the first track, Wax Face, quickly leading into one of the band’s signature dense, echoey, pounding vamps. Keyboardist Brigid Dawson sings with an eerie, deadpan brightness on that one and also the swaying, hyypnotic Hang a Picture, decked out in late Beatles paisley harmonies. They move through the lushly sustained neo-Velvets dirge So Nice and then a nebulous violin/keyboard drone into the funky soul strut Flood’s New Light and its sarcastic ba-ba-ba chorus.

With its wall of guitars and inscrutably creepy lyrics, the six-minute title track shifts tempos back and forth unexpectedly, followed by the briskly shuffling, squalling Lupine Dominus, the most obvious early Pink Floyd homage here. The album’s best songs are We Will Be Scared, an off-center Lynchian noir pop tune lowlit by sepulcural flute, and Goodnight Baby, which with its allusively catchy jangle could be a Church outtake from the late 80s. The last cut is Wicked Park, recalling the Pretty Things’ first adventures in acid chamber rock. Turn on, tune in, you know the rest.