Here’s the full photoset from 11/13. Great job Josh Sisk!
Great show the other day at Sonar, courtesy of Unregistered Nurse. Australia’s Total Control (featuring at least one member of Eddy Current Suppression Ring) and California’s Thee Oh Sees.
Mikal Cronin’s debut album comes out today. Click for free mp3s, and 7 reasons to be excited!
*CLICK THE PICTURE TO RSVP*
Sonar Productions/ Unregistered Nurse Booking present;
THEE OH SEES (San Francisco, In the Red Records… FACEBOOK)
w/ special guests
TOTAL CONTROL (Australia, mem. Eddy Current Suppression Ring/ UV Race)
+ more TBA!
$10 ADV / $12 DOS
Thee Oh Sees
In the Red; 2011
Over the past decade, San Francisco’s Thee Oh Sees have morphed from a showcase for skronk-savant John Dwyer’s sensitive side into the hardest working band in garage-rock. Their output is prolific and their live show combustible. But on Castlemania, Dwyer opts to go it alone. With the exception of live-band regular Brigid Dawson— who, along with the Sandwitches’ Heidi Alexander, contributes some backing vocals— the shaggy-banged songwriter handles almost all of the instruments. Drummer Mike Shoun and Guitarist Petey Dammit aren’t out of the picture permanently. They’re just off-duty until the fall, when Thee Oh Sees are scheduled to release yet another full-length record.
Castlemania is a fairly introspective affair, at least by Oh Sees standards. It’s Dywer’s most melodious batch of songs since 2006’s mostly acoustic Cool Death of the Island Raiders. Without the heavy full-band artillery he leans toward skewed bubble-gum pop, fleshing out the guitars and drums with flutes, bells and thrift store synths. It was recorded, at least in part, at Dywer’s former group house. “This here is the last record worked on at 608c Haight Street in San Francisco (very near and dear to my heart and heavy in my memories) before control was assumed by rich assholes,” he writes in the liner notes.
Not that this is Thee Oh Sees’ answer to Nebraska. Even at his most reflective, Dwyer’s songwriting retains a sinister, “Sesame Street”-on-LSD sensibility— simple melodies and creepy lyrics, frequently delivered in a whacked-out monster-voice. “It don’t feel too good to be dead in the 21st century/ I am dirt but I can be/ A home for wayward hungry seeds,” Dwyer growls on “I Need Seed”, deploying a Looney Tunes-worthy narrative in a song about death. It’s summery retro nuggets pinned into the red, shot through with a healthy dose of drugs and dread, while “Pleasure Blimps” finds him singing of machines stripping away flesh over shimmering glockenspiel lines and 12-string guitars.
All in all, Castlemania is a fairly loose and scattered record. There are plenty of oddball tangents, including a stripped-down and spooky cover of West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band’s “I Won’t Hurt You” and the forlorn mellotron and sax instrumental, “The Horse Was Lost”. Songs frequently melt down into racket rather than stop on a dime. But it’s good to hear Dwyer step away from his backing band’s big guns, if only for a moment.