Thee Oh Sees
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About Thee Oh Sees
One of the cornerstone bands of the post-millennium garage/psych resurgence, Thee Oh Sees represent a purposefully chaotic fusion of guitar and synth noise, strong and elemental melodies, and addled but focused attacks. Thee Oh Sees were founded by guitarist John Dwyer; originally from Providence, Rhode Island, after relocating to California in the late '90s, Dwyer became active on the San Francisco indie scene, working with several bands, including the Coachwhips, Pink & Brown, Yikes, Up Its Alive, and Swords & Sandals, among others. Dwyer formed OCS (which is an acronym for Orinoka Crash Suite, Orange County Sound, or whatever Dwyer decided it was on any given day) initially as a vehicle for the experimental instrumentals he was producing in his home studio. In time, OCS morphed into an actual band, and worked under the usual flurry of names, most notably as the Oh Sees or the Ohsees, and eventually as Thee Oh Sees, featuring Dwyer on guitar and vocals, Brigid Dawson on vocals and tambourine, Petey Dammit (sometimes listed as Petey Dammit!) on bass, and Mike Shoun on drums.
Sounding a bit like the Mamas & the Papas run through a seriously bent garage blender, the band signed with the German Tomlab label and released Sucks Blood in 2007 and The Master's Bedroom Is Worth Spending a Night In in 2008. Thee Oh Sees' second full-length effort, Help, appeared in 2009 and featured a bit of a garage rock vibe mixed with the band's psych-pop sound. The album Warm Slime followed in 2010. Thee Oh Sees pulled double duty the following year, offering the pop-leaning Castlemania in June, followed in November by the heavier, wilder Carrion Crawler/The Dream, also the band's first recording with second drummer Lars Finberg (the Intelligence). Thee Oh Sees returned in September 2012 with Putrifiers II, an album combining Castlemania's fractured pop sensibilities and Carrion Crawler/the Dream's ferocious rock experimentation. Their next foray, 2013's Floating Coffin, saw the group stripping away all the weirdness and hitting hard with a heavy set of straight-ahead garage/punk rock tunes.
With Dawson moving to Santa Cruz and Dwyer decamping to L.A. later that year, it was rumored that the band would soon split, especially after Dwyer told the crowd at a show in December 2013, "This will be the last Oh Sees show for a long while, so dig in." The hiatus was temporary and there was a new album, Drop, released in early 2014. The record was made solely by Dwyer and longtime producer Chris Woodhouse in an old banana-ripening warehouse and featured a more arranged, almost poppy sound. With a new lineup that featured drummer Nick Murray and bassist Timothy Hellman, Thee Oh Sees returned to the stage for a series of shows and recorded their 14th album, Mutilator Defeated at Last. It came out in May of 2015 and featured former member Dawson on backing vocals. Soon after the album's release, Murray left the band and was replaced by two drummers, Ryan Moutinhoo and Dan Rincon, for a subsequent tour. A live album was recorded during a stop in San Francisco and issued in June of 2016 as part of Castle Face's Live in San Francisco series. Following hot on the live album's heels was the band's 15th album, A Weird Exits, which arrived in August. It featured contributions from the live band and a seriously rad cover by Hair Police's Robert Beatty, who is known for his hallucinatory, airbrushed artwork. Before the year was out, the band released another single, "Fortress," and An Odd Entrances, an album made up of songs recorded at the same sessions as A Weird Exits.
The group were oddly silent for the first half of 2017; when they returned it was with an abbreviated name (Oh Sees) and a new drummer, Paul Quattrone, to replace the departed Moutinho. The first recorded output by the new lineup was Orc, which was released in August and featured contributions from Brigid Dawson. ~ Steve Leggett
- San Francisco, CA
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