Throughout this site’s eight year history, I’ve written quite a bit about the Bay Area-based Oh Sees (a.k.a. Thee Oh Sees, OCS, The Oh Sees, The Orange County Sound, Orinoka Crash Suite and other variations) — and as you may recall, the band which is led by its ridiculously prolific creative mastermind John Dwyer has long-held reputation for a wide-ranging experimentalism that has seen the band dabble and bounce between lysergic-tinged folk, furious and sweaty garage rippers, sci-fi driven krautrock and more. And with each successive album generally being completely different from its predecessors, it makes the band difficult to pigeonhole.
Last year’s Orc was a muscular and darkly inventive turn for the current lineup which features Tim Hellman (bass), Dan Rincon (drums) and Paul Quattrone (drums), as the material balanced a trippy, cosmic vibe with some of their most hard-hitting and punishing tendencies. Reaffirming their reputation for being unpredictable, the members of the band quickly followed that up with Memory of a Cut Off Head, an album that found the band revisiting the sound and approach of their early years, best known as their “quiet” period; in fact, returning to one of the band’s earlier names — OCS — was meant to herald a return to –the lower end of the decibel meter.
Last year, Dwyer and company did two shows with their quieter and lush incarnation at The Chapel in San Francisco and those live shows eventually produced a handmade, mail-order only live album OCS Live in San Francisco that was released through Rock Is Hell Records. Interestingly, the album will be re-issued and made available in a condensed 2 LP set and to support that effort, the OCS will play a limited performance run of mellow OCS tunes at The Murmrr Theatre in Brooklyn, as an octet featuring members of the early lineup, including Brigid Dawson (vocals), Tim Hellman (bass), Paul Quattrone (drums), Tom Dolas (keys), Eric Clark (violin), Heather Lockie (viola) and Emily Elkin (cello). (You can check those dates below.)
Also, Castle Face Records will be re-issuing a string of Oh Sees out-of-print Oh Sees albums from the quiet era beginning with The Cool Death of Island Raiders in February 2019. In the meantime, the band has released live footage of them performing the trippy and epic burner “Block of Ice,” that features some wild and unhinged guitar playing centered around a propulsive and steady groove. Quieter? I’m not so sure, as this one as a buzzing, garage psych quality; but either way I’m looking forward to catching Dwyer and company live.
But before that, the ridiculously prolific Dwyer and his Oh Sees/OCS released Smote Reverser earlier this year, and album single “Enrique El Cobrador” finds the band meshing classic psych rock and prog rock in a way that brings JOVM mainstays King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard but with a muscular and frightening sense of menace at its core, as the song is centered by a motorik-like groove, explosive blasts of guitar, arpeggiated keys and Dwyer delivering his vocals with a guttural snarl. Directed by Alexis Giroux and featuring animation from Giroux and Massimo Colarusso is a hallucinogenic nightmare of murder, bloodshed and bright colors and other wild imagery.
12/15/2018 Murmrr Theatre – Brooklyn, New York
12/16/2018 Murmrr Theatre – Brooklyn, New York