Thee Hounds of Foggy Notion
In between 2008’s untamed The Master’s Bedroom and 2009’s gloriously garage-y Help, San Francisco’s prolific Thee Oh Sees took a little detour with collaborator/director Brian Lee Hughes, and produced a DVD of live performances at various — and unusual — locations around San Francisco. This “soundtrack” to the DVD captures the band playing alongside highways and beaches, translating old and new songs alike into lo-fi, dreamy versions, painted in blacks and grays instead of the band’s trademark explosion of (muddy) color. (The only “live” aspect to these recordings is occasional environmental sounds.) The spacey, atmospheric “We Are Free” starts vibrating and jangling ferociously halfway in, and the lulling take on “Block of Ice” ends with a blast of seesawing guitar. A few tracks feature a Theremin, offering up a slightly creepy backswirl, and on the title track, it’s a delightful counter to the beautifully fingerpicked guitar. This foggy, gray version of “Ghost In the Trees” is fitting, with its echoing tom drum and subdued garage guitars heavy with reverb. A new mood for Thee Oh Sees, and one worth visiting.