Thee Oh Sees are a San Francisco band formed in 1997. They are fronted by founder of Castle Face Records John Dwyer. Thee Oh Sees have a unique and somewhat quirky neo-psychedelic sound that is almost a bit surf but also pure garage rock. Their new album Manipulator Defeated At Last will be released on May 18th off Castle Face Records. The album packs a punch, their craft is well honed and this is apparent from the first track Web. Web is a catchy psychedelic assault with an infectious riff that weaves along the track. The track descends into strange trippy territory that is accentuated by the eccentric vocals of John Dwyer. Nick Murray’s drums pound through the track’s climax indicating this should be played loud.
Weathered Hand is another track which demonstrates the eccentric sound of The Oh Sees which slowly reaches a thrashing garage rock climax. The first two tracks of this album are ferocious and enticing and I imagine they are electrifying to hear at a live show. The spiraling riff of Poor Queen is so catchy and the track full of high energy and commanding vocal delivery, even if the echoing sound on the production makes it difficult to make out the lyrics. Turned Out Light has a very sixties style riff that builds up to more noisy garage rock assaults.
Considering the general aesthetic and style of sound this band has, it’s difficult to gauge whether the psychedelic tracks mid album are there to indeed add to the experience or whether they’re filler. Of course, that may be a cruel assessment. Generally, I felt as if I wanted more. I loved the previous tracks that introduced me to the album but the track Lupine Ossuary for example, started to feel more like a jam session than a cohesive track. The musicianship is wonderful and the production definitely conveys that garage punk LSD-dosed feel. Perhaps, lengthy psychedelic interludes are part of this genre and perhaps I just don’t get it, but after a while it actually felt a bit tedious. The album brought me back to an album I’ve previous reviewed called I’m In Your Mind Fuzz by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard which had a similar style of sound. I definitely think fans of that album will definitely get something out of this.
Sticky Hulks is a track which starts with sixties style organs and is laden with impressive guitar solos. The organs add to the track’s trippy ambience. There is something even space age about this track. Holy Smokes is something a bit different an instrumental track with jangling guitars and Rogue Planet is a return to psychedelic garage rock which clocks at just under two minutes. This track managed to grab my full attention again. Manipulator Defeated At Last consists of nine tracks which actually seems like the bare minimum for an album. The band have succeeded in delivering an album which weaves in and out of garage rock and psychedelic jams. For fans of neo psychedelic rock, this may float your boat. I definitely enjoyed this album’s uniqueness and creativity but the lengthy jams may have just been that bit tedious for my impatient and punk loving ears. I’d probably give this one a healthy six or seven out of ten.