Published on December 1st, 2013 | by Craig Silliphant


Thee Oh Sees – Floating Coffin

oh sees

San Francisco-based garage/psychrock /punk/whatever band Thee Oh Sees is the brainchild of John Dwyer, whom you might remember from indie outfits like Pink and Brown and The HospitalsThee Oh Sees started as his way to be able to play with his more experimental side, but eventually the project evolved into a proper band.

They’ve had a prolific career, releasing at least an album a year, plus a bunch of singles.  I saw them a couple of years ago and I’d say that most of the records do a bang up job of capturing the energy of the live experience (as much as one can, anyway).  Live, they made mistakes (one guy even fell over by accident) and joked about it self-deprecatingly, but it all leant itself to showcasing what a good time the band was sharing with the audience.  They throw a net over this off the cuff manner on the albums, because it’s also their approach to recording.  They just jump into the studio and knock the songs out, textbook kinetic energy personified.

Their last album, ‘Putrifiers II’ was decent enough, but it felt like there was a slight drop in quality from the previous records, ‘Carrion Crawler/The Dream’ and ‘Castlevania.’  The new album, ‘Floating Coffin,’ pushes them back to the heights they’ve previously seen — it’s a really fucking good album. Oddly enough, it’s also one of their more accessible records for newcomers (though the awesome front cover might scare the shit out of some people — I know it gave me a shudder and a smile).

The more in-your-face songs are guitar-driven elbow drops to the chin, slashing at your jugular like a desperate alleyway mugger.  Driving, bashing beats keep a monkey bar framework for fuzzy, surfy guitars to climb all over, where simplicity of riffs pulls tongue with lighting-fast, jagged strumming.  Though that’s not to say the album doesn’t have its quieter moments — Dwyer and co. know when to take it down a notch and get real spaced-out, so canyon lows can chill you out and give you a chance to catch your breath before they build you back up again.   The lyrics aren’t really at the forefront, but yelps, spacey harmonies, and warm oohs and aahs help charge vivid melodies.

It’s easy to burn out on a band that’s this fertile in these cluttered days of disposable music, but as much as Thee Oh Sees haven’t reinvented the wheel or anything, they’re pumping out albums that sit on my heavy rotation playlist longer than most.  I pretty much jump on anything Thee Oh Sees puts out and ‘Floating Coffin’ is like a lotto-winning payback for buying that ticket and playing those same numbers week in and week out.

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About the Author

is a D-level celebrity with delusions of grandeur. A writer, critic, creative director, editor, broadcaster, and occasional filmmaker, his thoughts have appeared on radio, television, in print, and on the web. He is a juror on the Polaris Music Prize and the Juno Awards. He loves Saskatoon. He has horrible night terrors and apocalyptic dreams.

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