May 14, 2011

Thee Oh Sees - Castlemania

Thee Oh Sees have been rocking the whacked-out garage rock scene for about 5 years now, yet they've released 6 or 7 LPs, a live album, a bunch of EPs, some comps, and a handful of 7 inches. And if that wasn't enough, they're supposed to be releasing another LP this fall. Yet it only occurred to me that they might be rushing things after listening to last year's 'Warm Slime', a fairly disappointing release, which didn't have much to offer other than a couple good tracks, and a 13-minute, mostly boring jam. It didn't take a lot to get my hopes up for this release though, especially after listening to the blissfully catchy opening track 'I Need Seed' back in April.

It's safe to say that Thee Oh Sees have severely toned down the whole loud, raw, in-your-face garage rock approach that admittedly made me fall in love with them in the first place, and replaced it with an even more raw, psych folk sound. In other words, the raw electric guitars have for the most part been replaced with raw acoustic guitars. Unfortunately I can see this being a major turn-off for more than a few people, but it's totally refreshing to hear these guys out of their comfort zone. Above all, the melodies are still top-notch, especially on Corprophagist, Stinking Cloud, Pleasure Blimps, A Wall A Century 2, and The Whipping Continues. The psychedelic aspect is still there too. If anything, it's even more so.

Other stand out tracks include the sheer raw power of Corrupted Coffin, the addicting little 1-minute track Spider Cider, the cleaner-sounding Blood on the Deck, which has a nice solo, and their excellent rendition of The Creation song If I Stay Too Long, which is a little bit ironic, because both are bands that should be more popular than they already are. All of the other tracks are highly enjoyable too, with the exception of the title track, which though pretty epic-sounding, is a little too hectic for its own good, and too ill-fitting to the rest of the album. I Won't Hurt You and the closing track What Are We Craving? also get old pretty quick, and set the album back a little, which sucks because those are the two main tracks with long time Oh Sees member Brigid's vocals, and she has a really likable, soothing voice.

Coming in at a little over 40 minutes with 16 tracks, Castlemania is a refreshing, fairly strong comeback from the mostly tiresome misstep 'Warm Slime'. It didn't come close to reaching the heights of Thee Oh Sees' strongest effort 'Help', but I didn't expect it too. For now, I can't stop listening to it, and that has to count for something.

P.S. - The link for I Need Seed is actually a link to an awesome stop action music video.

1. I Need Seed
2. Corprophagist (A Bath Perhaps)
3. Stinking Cloud
4. Corrupted Coffin
5. Pleasure Blimps
6. A Wall, A Century 2
7. Spider Cider
8. The Whipping Continues
9. Blood on the Deck
10. Castlemania
11. AA Warm Breeze
12. Idea For Rubber Dog
13. The Horse Was Lost
14. I Won't Hurt You
15. If I Stay Too Long
16. What Are We Craving?


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