22 September 2016

Thee Oh Sees - A Weird Exits

Ok, ok, I am reviewing it already!  Over the last few months I have been asked when am I going to review the seventeenth studio album by Thee Oh Sees.  It has been an aim to be honest, but there have been other things happening since and stuff for the blog; but I have done it so the emails can stop!  But enough about my life and let us have a quick look at who the smeg are Thee Oh Sees.  Originally named Orinoka Crash Suite, the band were originally formed as an off-shot of Coachwhips and Zeigenbock Kopf for John Dwyer and over time it has become his main band as the other projects split up.   Thee Oh Sees themselves have went on hiatus, lost member and at present are currently playing with two drummers – the full line up of the band is Mr Dwyer on vocals, guitars and keyboard, Tim Hellman on bass with Ryan Moutinho & Dan Rincon on drums.  The cover for this album is trippy and surreal, sometimes that is enough for me in an album.  But what of the music, what does this album sound like?

01 – Dead Man’s Gun

This song starts off with a tight bass & drum combo and the occasional drop of a single note from the guitar, lyrics are spat out with either angelic grace or terminal velocity and venom.  It erupts every now and then into a Garage/Punk explosion and it sounds like it has a lot of pomp and flair being handled with expert hand and in a demonic and playful way.  It is a subtle introduction to the band and album, it does the right amount of everything to get your attention and it is not just all out rock.

02 – Ticklish Warrior

Now this song sounds as if it is aching for a fight with a riff that could go on forever and ever, a drum performance that sounds like thunder and cannons, a bass that holds it all together and the total value of all these piece & the vocals that once again are shouted out with ferocity and command attention is a sure winner in my books – song of the album without a shadow of a doubt.

03 – Jammed Entrance

Starting with strange noises, the occasional drum roll and gaps of silence before it hits into another measured and direct garage punk combo that will have people in rapture when they hear it.  The guitar noises sound like they are being made by a host of machines and robots, giving this song a drone and mechanical feeling.  It is a song that you could easily be lost in as it waxes, peaks and troughs around the speaker and the listener.

04 – Plastic Plant

This song sounds as if it is aiming to become the long lost track from The Who, mixed in with some Kraftwerk as well; it is a perfect example of Kraut-rock in the modern era, with a driven and dynamic core and some rough garage edges the invite the listener to basically lose any cool they had in the first instance and smashing the shit out of the dancefloor.  A sonic twin to ‘Dead Man’s Gun’ with a large dose of attitude and a fantastic amount of noise, passion and soul.

05 – Gelatinous Cube

This is (to paraphrase Kurt Cobain when he was asked about ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’) sounds like they are trying to rip off the Cramps.  It is a noisy number, pure garage, rock ‘n’ roll adrenaline that the Cramps, Rocket From The Crypt, MC5 and others have done for years.  At the beginning, it sounded like we were going to get ‘Iron Man’ once more, as the tone was very Black Sabbath.  For all intents and purposes, this song is just a little number that is easily wrote off and it should be ignored at your peril and it is fucking fantastic at being an out & out, high adrenaline rock ‘n’ roll swaggering number that hits all the right spots.

06 – Under Wrap The Fiend Part 2.

Another instrumental track, this time it is a little gentler on the soul with just as much effect as other tracks on this album.  You lose yourself to the music and follow them wherever you may go and however the music will take you.  With long passages of noise, reverb, bass rumbles, sudden explosions and quiet contemplation, it really does tick all the boxes for me.  It combines both sides of this band in terms of volume and it has never gotten old or repetitive since I first heard it.

07 – Crawling Out From The Fall Out

The penultimate song on this album is also the longest song of the record as well, coming in at seven minutes and fifty-one seconds.  Starting with a light cymbal take and then gentle drums, strings and low reverb, ‘Crawling Out From The Fall Out’ is a track that is not going to be rushed.  It is taking its time to reveal itself to you and patience is as ever the virtue whilst listening to this song.  With long passages of drone, sporadic vocals every now and then, a slow drum beat the you can truly relax into, this song is one that is not going to be for everyone.  For some people, it might be a bit too slow and not have the excitement of other tracks; for me, I like it as it gives you a pause before the end and shows yet another side to this band.  It is not my favourite song on the album, but I do not dislike it either.

08 – The Axis

Ending the album with another droning number that is slower than the beginning of the record, this is something that I fully understand and it is in these moments that I find myself appreciating the band a hell of a lot more.  It is a song about leaving a person and moving on, the music is a slow and sombre affair, an organ is heavy in the performance and the noise at the end is as loud as any frantic riff you will hear on this album that helps the song come to a noises end for the guitars as everything else stays on the same beautiful path.  It shows that they know when to make it larger than life and when to keep it simple and graceful.  A brilliant ending to this album, just beautiful.

Thee Oh Sees have created one of the best Garage Rock albums of 2016 and it could be one of the best albums of this year.  It is one that does not hide behind any fashions, any false statements and it sounds like it would have been a blast to be around the band as they were recording this.  With two instrumentals, maybe one song I was not too into and a variety of styles, it keeps your attention and it gets better with further performances.  A dark horse for album of the year?  Maybe, but it has a lot of competition; however, it will be in the conversation for one of the best albums of 2016 and that is nothing to be ashamed about.

9 out of ten – Almost perfect, almost…..

You can purchase A Weird Exits on Amazon here.

You can visit the Thee Oh Sees website here.

You can follow the activities of Thee Oh Sees on Facebook here.

At the time of writing, A Weird Exits is not available on streaming services.

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