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THEE OH SEES - Carrion Crawler / The Dream LP

In The Red

THEE OH SEES - Carrion Crawler / The Dream LP

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Highly recommended.

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.

Now, Thee Oh Sees chase the home-brewed symphonies of Castlemania with the scrappy, high-wire hooks of Carrion Crawler / The Dream. Originally envisioned as two EPs, it was cut live to tape in less than a week at Chris Woodhouse’s Sacramento studio in June, reflecting the battering-ram bent of the band’s live show better than any bootleg ever could. “As I’m sure most would agree,” explains Dwyer, “Castlemania was more of a vocal tirade. This one’s meant to pummel and throb.” That it does, whether one blasts the slow, speaker-bruising build of “The Dream,” the sunburnt organs and dovetailing guitars of “Crack in Your Eye” or the interstellar instrumental “Chem-Farmer,” a perfect example of what happens when one takes a well-oiled machine—a gang of rabid road warriors, really—and adds a second, groove-locked drum set to the mix. To listen is to realize that Dwyer’s music is as manic as the underground comic inclinations of his artwork; colorful and confusing in a way that’s more than welcome. It’s downright refreshing, like a slap in the face at 5:00 in the morning. Or, as Dwyer puts it, “You have to leave a mark somehow.”

“John Dwyer deserves a star on the underground garage-punk walk of fame.” - Stereogum


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