Review : Thee Oh Sees - Help
Allmusic"Tight" isn't a word that fits comfortably when describing Thee Oh Sees, but on Help, the second full-length effort from John Dwyer's garage psych marauders, the band has certainly learned to find order amidst chaos in a manner that eluded them on their 2008 debut The Master's Bedroom Is Worth Spending a Night In. The basic approach on Help isn't particularly different than on Thee Oh Sees' first effort -- the guitars are thick, ringing, and dripping with reverb and distortion, the rhythm section pounds away in a simple but relentless fashion, the massed vocals approximate vintage California-style harmonies in the midst of a trip on dirty acid, and the songs take traditional garage rock changes and bend them a wee bit as the production runs them through just enough low-budget studio trickery until they resemble a paisley nightmare oozing out of your speakers. Still, while most of the tunes on Help sound as purposefully messed up as ever, they're just a bit tidier and more straightforward here, and the stronger framework makes a positive difference. Similarly, the performances sound more unified and less chaotic here, as if everyone is following the same vision that lurks over the horizon for a change, and the ferocity of Dwyer's guitar is potent, locking into the crash-boom-bang of the bass and drums with impressive force. And while full-on assaults on reality like "Enemy Destruct" and "Soda St. #1" are the order of the day on Help, there's enough of a pop lilt in "Go Meet the Seed" and "Can You See?" to confirm these folks saw some real nice colors while making this album and have a variety of tricks in their repertoire to express them. You might not trust Thee Oh Sees to give you a ride home after a gig, but if you're looking for a seriously buzzy rave-up, Help certainly delivers the goods....full text
DustedmagazineIf there’s any continuity among of the phonetically-linked Oh Sees projects (at various times, OCS, The Ohsees), it’s woozy harmony. For years, it was John Dwyer’s bedroom project of sparse guitars, and he double-tracked harmonies with himself. But since his pawnshop-rock bastards Coachwhips ended, Oh Sees has filled out into a full band, and on Help, vocal duties are shared instead of doubled. Dwyer yelps in a falsetto similar to that of bandmate Brigid Dawson, and the effect isn’t so much girl/boy as elf/gremlin.
Their last record,The Masters Bedroom is Worth Spending a Night In, added the rhythmic force of Dwyer’s noisier side. On Help, bits of digital noise have worked their way into the sound, like the band is absorbing the textures of Dwyer’s more avant projects. Or maybe it’s just a crunchy topping to contrast with the creamy icing, because this is one cake of a record, as approachable as Dwyer has ever been. The Masters Bedroom... kept the vocals at the margins much of the time, like they were ghosts haunting a Small Faces record in Steve Marriott’s absence. Here, they’re foregrounded enough so you can sense the gender split, closer to a Mamas and Papas record....full text
PitchforkWhen we had to go to the record store to get music, I liked buying albums I knew nothing about based only on their cover art. There was something exciting to me about rolling the dice on a band after simply connecting with their visual aesthetic. Of course, that kind of mystery doesn't exist anymore-- we could feasibly know loads about a group before hearing a note of their music-- but if it did, I think I would take one look at the hand-drawn purple bat and rainbow adorning Thee Oh Sees' Help and just know it was going to be rad. And I would be right.
For those who haven't been following John Dwyer's various costume changes over the years, Thee Oh Sees are an extension of the San Francisco-based rocker's work as OCS, a lo-fi solo folk project he started after heading up (among others) the raucous noise and garage acts Pink and Brown and Coachwhips. Over time the band's expanded into a four-piece, and Dwyer's used it as a means to explore his deep love of 1960s psychedelic and garage rock. It's also been an avenue for him to try out more conventional pop songs with deeper accessibility-- 2008's mostly underappreciated The Master's Bedroom Is Worth Spending a Night In found Dwyer at his most listenable to date....full text
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