Some bands hit you over the head like a sledgehammer, while others, gently stroke you with a velvet glove. Thee Oh Sees hit you over the head with a sledgehammer while wearing a velvet glove. I recently saw San Francisco's Thee Oh Sees perform as part of Noise Pop-the annual indie music festival, now in its 17 year-and still can't remove the smile the band carved into my face.
Thee Oh Sees are led by John Dwyer (the Coachwips, Pink and Brown, the Hospitals) and have a sound soaked in reverb, revved up like a muscle car on a death ride. They somehow manage to conjure Halloween at the end of February and could re-animate a zombie crowd into shimmying teenagers. Guitarist Dwyer and singer Brigid Dawson alternate between call and response and dual harmony, reminiscent of the Cramps and the B52s. This is garage psycho-billy done with vim and vigor. The songs can be a bit one-dimensional but it's a great dimension to inhabit. The rhythm section, comprised of Mike Shoun on drums and Petey Dammit also playing guitar, complete Thee Oh Sees nightmare vision.
Last year's The Master's Bedroom Is Worth Spending a Night In is a delight and the perfect accompaniment for a midnight drive down a dark, deserted road. It might even turn even a casual listener into a drifting killer. I can't get set and album opener, "Block of Ice", out of my mind and "Adult Acid" has the swagger of Johnny Cash on LSD. This is a band to watch out for when the come to your town. Their live show is mischievous and playful, with the genteel and amiable Dawson serving as the perfect foil for the demented Dwyer.
Thee Oh Sees will be off to South by Southwest and have new record entitled Help in limited-edition vinyl only out now, with a full release soon.