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THE OH SEES

The Oh Sees

Graveblockers (Reissue)

    Encased in a brown paper wrapping like a forgotten bit of smut from behind the beaded curtain, this unassuming disc is a time-capsule back to John Dwyer’s early SF days, janglingly fingerpicked wisps of melody and electronics baking in the all-too anemic sunshine of San Francisco’s elusive summer. Like a seashell to the ear, one can hear within it Baker Beach bike ride excursions, holding court and gently harassing passers-by on a Haight street stoop, and midnight rambles with friends from out of town, daring the sun to come up.

    Somewhere chronologically between the folky whisper of Songs About Death And Dying and the recently reissued Cool Death Of Island Raiders, this one’s been vexing to find for way too long and Castle Face has decided to give it “the treatment”. May it awaken the gentle glow of possibility dappled with the dancing shadow of danger that it stirs around this castle.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Mine says: Much anticipated reissue of this low-key/lo-fi The(e) Oh Sees EP from 2006, now available on green vinyl. Don't snooze!

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Limited edition green coloured vinyl with insert.

    Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

    The Oh Sees

    The Cool Death Of Island Raiders (Reissue)

      Announcing a reissue of The Oh Sees - The Cool Death of Island Raiders
      We here at Castle Face are not afraid to get our shins dirty mucking around in the stacks and we’re well aware of an out-of-press gap of Oh Sees releases right before 2006 when we started the label with Sucks Blood. We’re rectifying that and first among these is The Cool Death of Island Raiders, a particularly dusty gem that we think merits another look.

      Kicking off the record with what should have been the hit of the summer that year but for the hard C in the title, "The Gilded Cunt" seems to clearly preface Oh Sees’ later psych skewed pop sensibilities. At the time it was an obvious jam and I recall being floored by its shuffling beauty. Chirping birds, gently lapping tempos and the nascent harmonization of Bridgid Dawson and Dwyer detail what I consider to be a definitive highlight of their early quiet period of the band. The tree hangs heavy with Patrick Mullins’ handiwork, manning the musical saw, drums, and an assortment of home made electronics. It seemed a bit radical to be so quiet about it but the tunes are total earworms among the assorted drones, cut up bits of tape noise, and mellow front porch vibes, and the whole thing hangs together in a lovely hand-made way, helped in no small part by Dave Sitek’s production (he would later work on Master’s Bedroom as well). “

      We flew Brigid out a fresh woman and literally sent her home on a plane with a trash bag of her clothes” says John. Evidently the whole record was accidentally erased at some point right around when the photo on the back of the jacket was taken, which makes it all the more remarkable that the result sounds so casually and confidently careworn. 

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      Coloured LP Info: Limited to just 300 copies on translucent electric blue vinyl.

      What’s the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions Thee Oh Sees? Probably their riot-sparking live show, right? Visions of a guitar-chewing, speaker-smothering, tongue-wagging John Dwyer careening across your cranium, chased by a wild-eyed wrecking crew that drives every last hook home like it’s a nail in the coffin of what one thought it meant to make 21st century rock ’n’ roll?

      Yeah, that sounds about right. But it misses a more important point—how impossible Thee Oh Sees have been been to pin down since Dwyer launched it in the late ’90s as a solo break from such sorely missed underground bands as Pink and Brown and Coachwhips. That restlessness extends to everything from the towering, thirteen-minute title track of 2010’s Warm Smile LP to the mercurial moods of 2008’s The Master’s Bedroom Is Worth Spending a Night In. And then there’s the home-brewed symphonies of Castlemania and the high-wire hooks of Carrion Crawler / The Dream, which dropped a second drum set among sunburnt organs, dovetailing guitars and rail-jumping rhythms.

      If one prefers a slightly more subtle musical awakening, there’s always Putrifiers II, the latest in a long line of Oh Sees albums that expands the group’s sound well past your friendly neighborhood garage band. So while the space-odyssey nods of “Wax Face” actually sound like they’re meant to melt one’s ears straight off, the record’s full of deviant detours, from the poison-tipped string parts and Eno-esque engineering of “So Nice” to the groove-locked Krautrock inclinations of “Lupine Dominus.”

      The most noticeable element may be Dwyer’s melodies, however, as they reveal a softer side to his songwriting, one that makes perfect sense considering just how disparate his dust-clearing influences are. Scott Walker, The Velvet Underground, The Zombies and the experimental Japanese act Les Rallizes Denudes are but a small taste of what informed Thee Oh Sees this time around, as Dwyer returned to the multi-instrumental ways of Castlemania— full-band sessions for another record are already underway—and rounded out a fuller, drier sound with drummer / engineer Chris Woodhouse and special guests like Mikal Cronin (sax), Heidi Maureen Alexander (trumpet, vocals) and K Dylan Edrich (viola).

      San Francisco’s incredibly prolific Thee Oh Sees are back with another full-length album of original tracks plus a smattering of covers. While the group’s previous releases on In The Red, "Help" and "Warm Slime", showcase their amped-up, reverb-drenched garage-psych pummel, on "Castlemania", John Dwyer and company take a more low-key approach. Dwyer himself describes "Castlemania" as 'summer-y and poppy'; on many of the tracks, electric guitars are jettisoned for acoustic, and the normally echo-laden vocals are a bit clearer. Happy pop melodies, sweet and sombre tunes, psychedelic moves galore, cover versions of The Creation and the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, and at least one garage stomper all rub elbows on Thee Oh Sees’ 'sunshine pop' album.

      Its release couldn’t be more perfectly suited to the time of the year when the sunny skies return and the flowers start blooming. Watch for Thee Oh Sees to return later this year with another full-length of pulverizing, heavy stomp. In the meantime, relax and enjoy "Castlemania".


      FORMAT INFORMATION

      2xLtd LP Info: The vinyl is a three-sided double LP housed in a beautiful gatefold sleeve with a fourth side featuring an etching by William Keihn, who also did the fantastic cover art.

      The ridiculously prolific Bay Area band Thee Oh Sees are back with another full-length long-player. "Warm Slime" is guaranteed to please fans of their whacked-out garage / psych / punk jams. Recorded by Sacramento sultan of sound Chris Woodhouse, "Warm Slime" carries on in the same tradition as the group’s previous In The Red release, "Help", showcasing their more electrified and rocking side, in comparison to other recent home-recorded releases. The centrepiece is undoubtedly the mind-bending title track, which clocks in at nearly 14 minutes and takes up the entirety of the album’s first side. It’s a psychedelic epic of "Inna Gadda Da Vida" proportions! John Dwyer’s guitar playing is at its quadraspazzed best here, and the vocal interplay with Brigid Dawson gives it a B-52s-at-their-least-cheesy-crossed-with the-Troggs vibe. The results are stunning.

      'Thee Oh Sees incorporate the oft-referenced Nuggets stuff in a way that feels reverential. With grinding guitars and bah-bah-bah vocals, but with the punk and new-wave elements also at play, they don’t feel trite or plagiarized. This is like meat and potatoes prepared by a master chef -totally familiar but utterly delicious.'  - Pitchfork.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      Ltd LP Info: Vinyl repress.


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