It's worth mentioning (and downright necessary to say) that Oh Sees used to be call Thee Oh Sees. The band is now just Oh Sees but the music remains challenging and bracing indie-rock that, largely, surges with infectious energy. The new one from Oh Sees, Orc, drops on Castle Face Records on Friday and it's a fine release worthy of all the attention that it's likely to get.
Opener "The Static God" bursts out of the gate with a lot of bad intent, only to be followed immediately by the proggy "Nite Expo, and the cod-speed metal of "Animated Violence", the bass of Tim Hellman on this one anchoring the ship as it sinks into the whirlpool. Elsewhere, the epic "Keys To The Castle" sees the band march through territory that recalls both early Yes and early Sabbath, if that's possible, while the percolating "Paranoise" features the nimble guitar-work of John Dwyer to great effect. The superb and sludge-y "Drowned Beast" mixes elements of early Floyd and various metal acts from the early Seventies for a tune that is borderline hypnotic in its attack, while closer "Raw Optics" serves, primarily, as a showcase for Dan Rincon and Paul Quattrone, the 2 drummers in Oh Sees. On this number, the music is very nearly jazz fusion but it's certainly harder than anything that would fit neatly in that genre.
For the most part, the tunes on this new Oh Sees album are full of fire and spark, even if the band members sometimes go off on weird paths. That the music is unconventional in those spots gives this record from Oh Sees a lot of appeal. Oh Sees are not just making the usual American indie-pop but are, instead, trying to add a few new colors to the customary palette available to musicians these days. More attune, at times, to the stuff that saw the light of day a few decades ago in the acid rock boom, the cuts on Orc are inventive and rockin' in the best possible way.
[Photo: John Dwyer]