Thee Oh Sees
Saturday, December 22nd, 2012 | musiX | No Comments
1. Tilts – Tilts (Robotic Empire)
2. Swans – The Seer (Young God)
3. Lisabö – Animalia Lotsatuen Putzua (Bidehuts)
4. King Tuff – King Tuff (Sub Pop)
5. Ozarks – Ozarks (Wil-Ru Records)
6. Sic Alps – Sic Alps (Drag City)
7. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Mature Themes (4AD)
8. The Men – Open Your Heart (Sacred Bones)
9. Thee Oh Sees – Putrifiers II (In The Red)
10. Gaytheist – Stealth Beats (Good to Die Records)
I caught Zodiac Death Valley at a recent performance in front of a rather motley crew at Portland’s Kenton Club. Needless to say it felt right. The San Francisco five-piece fully embraces rock and roll’s hedonistic tendencies, and this night seemed like everyone was feeling a little unhinged. Then again, it was the Kenton Club.
ZDV is touring in support of their self-titled debut—out now—which has been getting some serious spins here at TDoL HQ. The best thing about these rawk and rollers is that their music is difficult to pin. Their back-alley blues is prone to noisy outbreaks, and their live shows (which have gained notoriety in a city that includes Thee Oh Sees) are fueled by time-honored traditions of sex, drugs and rock and roll. Yes, please.
“Jail” – Zodiac Death Valley
Well, hello there. Remember when we used to hang out? Right here? I would tell you about the music I liked. And you’d get me up to speed on everything going on in your life—that new job, your new love interest, or that new zany electro-twee trio from Brooklyn—in the comments section. I miss that.
It’s been a fantastical year for The Days of Lore, filled with all sorts of life-shaping events … ahh hell, here it is in digestible list form:
1. I got married! Yes, married! Me! Married! To a wonderful woman who puts up with all of my quirks. It was an incredible ceremony, and the good times with friends and family lasted for daze. It was one of the most overwhelmingly happy events in my life. And everyone cried, per my plan. I captured the musical portion of it on the official Days of Lore Wedding Mix. Grab your copy here.
2. I also performed my first wedding ceremony, and I think it’s even official.
3. A couple of my good friends brought new little bundles into the world. Both of those little bundles have Willie Nelson onesies.
4. My beloved St. Louis Cardinals miraculously won the World Series.
5. My wife Alexis got a Master’s in teaching and a teaching job … all within four months.
Yes, 2011 was pretty darned swell. That said, TDoL suffered a little amidst all of the excitement, neglected like a Fleet Foxes CD in the stack of life. But I have a couple of goodies to offer before we call 2011 a year. Like this here year-end, rock and roll buffet (minus the all-you-can-eat crab legs).
I should note that I didn’t delve very deep into new music this year, instead spending all waking hours with my head buried in musty vinyl bins (I’m even working on a cologne called “Musty Vinyl Bin”) buying up old country and metal records. This year, instead of a comprehensive list of 2011 releases, I’ve compiled sort of a grab-bag of notable musical this and thats. Hope you enjoy. Here’s looking to 2012 with charged batteries and more good times.
Top five 6 Shows
1. Wild Flag at Doug Fir, 11.9.11
Windmills, leg kicks, noise, all performed with a certain je ne sais quoi—these ladies renewed my faith in rock and roll.
2. Danava at East End, 10.8.11
The best rock band in Portland. Period. Earplugs and diaper recommended.
3. Rush at Sleep Country Amphitheater, 6.28.11
I’ve only recently jumped aboard the Rush train, and finally seeing them live proved once and for all what I’ve known all along: These guys are nerds. And they fucking rule.
4. Deicide at Hawthorne Theatre, 3.5.11
The venue smelled like an 8th grade locker room, and a fight broke out within the first five minutes I arrived. Now that’s a metal show.
5. Ke$ha at Roseland Theatre, 2.16.11
I had no clue what I was getting into here, and I ended up having a blast. Throwaway pop and good ol’-fashioned schlock in the form of human sacrifices and a dancing penis.
6. Zola Jesus at Mississippi Studios, 10.6.11
Less goth and more grandiose than I expected. I felt like I had eaten a Ziploc bag of mushrooms. And Ms. Jesus was very down-to-earth.
Top 5 Albums
1. Koko and the Sweetmeats - Sacrifice
Seattle’s best kept secret is also Seattle’s best band.
2. Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Unknown Mortal Orchestra
I miss the Mint Chicks … but not that much.
3. Old 97′s - The Grand Theatre, Vol. 2
Even better than Vol. 1. So where’s Vol. 3 and 4?
4. Anthrax - Worship Music
Who woulda thought? They bring back Joey Belladonna and release their best album in 20 years.
5. Thee Oh Sees - Carrion Crawler/The Dream
Album number two of 2011 from Jim Dwyer and Co. is numero uno in my book, and number five on the list.
Top five 6 Vinyl Purchases
1. The Saints – Eternally Yours
The gift that keeps on giving.
2. Steve Young – Rock Salt & Nails
Brilliant country gospel featuring Gene Clark and Gram Parsons.
3. Bollywood Bloodbath: The B-Music of the Indian Horror Film Industry
More funky than frightening—the dance-party soundtrack for 2011 and beyond (the grave).
4. Willie Nelson – Phases & Stages
Willie’s best, and I finally snagged it on vinyl.
5. Iron Maiden – Powerslave
I forgot how great this album was, and I played it for weeks at maximum volume. Now my neighbor Earl knows how great this album is, too.
6. Celibate Rifles – The Turgid Miasma of Existence
Australia’s answer to the Sex Pistols (get it?), only noisier and better.
Odds and Ends
Interview: A morning with Stephen Malkmus
I spent a few hours at Mr. Malkmus’ pad for Spin Magazine, talking to him about sports, guitars … oh, and his best solo record to date.
Record Store: Crossroads Music
I spent many an afternoon here this year. Spent many a dollar. Took home many a record. Made many an ill-advised decision. And for that, I love/hate/love it.
Book: Ace Frehley – No Regrets
The Space Ace drank enough booze and did enough blow to kill an adult male rhino, and he lived to tell about it. Guitar Gods never die—they clean up their acts and write rock bios.
TV: Wonder Years on Netflix
After years and years (and years), Kevin Arnold and Winnie Cooper (be still my beating heart) came back into my life, along with the laughter, tears, and the music … even if it’s not Joe Cocker on those opening credits. See you next year, eh?
Thursday, September 15th, 2011 | musiX | No Comments
I’m not going to go into my love affair with San Francisco (and its inhabitants, restaurants, bands). I’m not. But when the lights go down in the city, and the sun shines on the bay … do I wanna be there in my city? Oh ooh whoa. Whoa ohhh oh ooh whoa.
I’m slightly convinced that John Dwyer is insane (yet not as insane as I am for quoting Steve Perry). The leader of San Fran’s Thee Oh Sees has taken every project he’s been involved with to the far reaches and nether-regions of thee arty and thee unhinged. You never know quite what you’re going to get. And live? Thee Oh Sees simply demolish. And Dwyer continues his prolific ways. The band released Castlemania in May, and are already gearing up for the forthcoming Carrion Crawler/The Dream on November 15 via In The Red.
The new single “Carrion Crawler” is relatively straight-forward compared to the creepy vibes of Castlemania. Dig in. Trip out. Get back. Go forward. Move ahead.
“Carrion Crawler” – Thee Oh Sees
I’ve been hibernating in my hyperbaric oxygen chamber since the closing minutes of MFNW, and I think I added a few years to my life in the process. For a few days I felt like I was 16 again, and only wanted to write about Ke$ha and Linkin Park—I had to smoke a pack of Camel Lights and drink a bottle of Crown Royal last night to snap out of it.
Which brings me to The Fresh & Onlys. San Francisco is a foggy little hotbed of rock that includes Sic Alps, Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall, but The Fresh & Onlys have probably released more music—several 7-inches, two full-lengths—in the past two years than all those bands combined. And they don’t appear to be slowing. The four-piece will release Play It Strange on October 12 on In The Red. Needless to say the lead single “Waterfall” is a garage rock twanger (that ends with a classic fade-out) that has me feeling my current age once again.
“Waterfall” – The Fresh & Onlys
Monday, September 13th, 2010 | musiX, pdX | 2 Comments
You mean there’s more? I’m running on three hours of sleep, pretending I’m 23 again. I’m not 23 again. Maybe I am 23 again, because I’m hell-bent on seeing cuddly blog babes Surfer Blood. These kids from West Palm Beach, Florida look like kids … except for the frizzy-haired cowbellist, who looks like John Oates circa 1977.
The band’s debut Astro Coast is still holding up well for me. It’s a great guitar record. I’m guessing many a fickle blogger has spat the band out since the record’s release in January. Maybe not. Live, the band sounded pretty true to the album, except noisier. Vocalist John Paul Pitts croons like Steven Patrick Morrissey. The songs are catchy and the riffs air-guitarable (though I don’t recommend it), and every now and then the members dived into Afro-Cuban rhythm breaks or ear-piercing, guitar freakouts. I talked to a couple of people who were bored by Surfer Blood, or compared them to Weezer. Impossible. The members of Surfer Blood are too well-adjusted to sound like Weezer. And they have a cowbellist who looks like John Oates circa 1977.
I’m faced with the difficult decision of choosing between seeing Shonen Knife or The Gories—why does life have to be so hard? I decide on the latter, knowing I’ll also get to see San Fran’s Thee Oh Sees, but also knowing that I’ll have to brave the line/claustrophobic conditions at Dante’s. And Haunted George. I make it through the line, and survive the doorman’s unorthodox system for letting people in and out. I think he’s stoned. The place is already packed. Haunted George is already playing and is essentially the one-man band of Steve Pallow, who bashes an old snare and kick drum with his feet while he chugs psychobilly riffs on a guitar. He’s got another guy playing the same psychobilly riffs behind him. It’s not really my thing. Maybe I’d like it more if I had a neck tattoo and a head full of pomade.
I saw Thee Oh Sees open up for Jay Reatard (RIP) last year, and they absolutely blew the place apart (and upstaged Reatard and his cronies). Former Coachwhip-former Pink and Brown-current Oh Sees frontman John Dwyer does not fuck around. The band’s spastic garage rock is as unmanageable as his thick coif—vocals heavy with echo, guitars that slice through like a laser, and songs that rarely follow the verse-chorus-verse format. Plus, Dwyer is a freak on stage (and for some reason reminds me of Crispin Glover). Simply put—I would never want to be the band that follows Thee Oh Sees …
… which is what The Gories are. The Motor City trio formed back in 1986, disbanded in 1992, and now find themselves again ripping through sets of blues-based garage rock. And they kick out one jam after another, opening with “Hey Hey, We’re The Gories” (note: bands with theme songs rule). I must say The Gories sound timid compared to Thee Oh Sees, and I secretly wish I could teleport over to Mississippi Studios for the Shonen Knife show. Then again, if it wasn’t for The Gories, Thee Oh Sees would not exist. Wrap your head around that one. As the set winds on, the members of The Gories are playing like kids again, while the faces of the audience-members become increasingly haggard … save for the two members of Surfer Blood I spot in the crowd—they still look like schoolboys. They definitely got an education tonight. Meanwhile I feel like I aged a decade over the course of four days. See you next year, MFNW.
Surfer Blood performing “Twin Peaks” at Wonder Ballroom during MusicfestNW