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Oh Sees - Face Stabber (Album Review)

Wednesday, 21 August 2019 Written by Jacob Brookman

To the uninitiated, John Dwyer’s gang of rock miscreants probably need a little bit of explaining. Formed in San Francisco in 1997 as Orinoka Crash Suite, the band have gone through half a dozen name and line-up changes. Now on their 22nd album, they have for the previous couple of records (‘Orc’ and ‘Smote Reverser’), operated with the dual drumming skills of Dan Rincon and Paul Quattrone, alongside keys, bass and the wild guitar stylings of Dwyer.

The result on ‘Face Stabber’ is an album of psych-rock that channels the experimental energy of Throbbing Gristle or Karlheinz Stockhausen alongside the space-rock vibes of Pink Floyd or Yes. Scutum & Scorpius is one such track—a jagged, rapidfire composition with a fruity slow groove dropped in the middle that takes us somewhere completely different to what was promised at the outset.

Thematically, longtime fans will be familiar with the spiky territory. Track titles like Poisoned Stones, Heartworm and—a particular favourite—Psy-Ops Dispatch, are typically John Dwyer: a blend of filthy humour, fucked up imagination and lyrical scuzz. 

Snickersnee is another good example of his distinctive style: “Walk around with those expired eyes / Politicians tell you only lies / It possesses every breath you breathe / Hauling all that feculence around.” That’s right: he said ‘feculence’. No? Nothing? Feculent adjective fec·u·lent | ˈfe-kyə-lənt  Definition of feculent: foul with impurities: FECAL.

By this point, it would be easy to take the quality of the Oh Sees’ work for granted. ‘Face Stabber’ is consistently imaginative, elaborate and innovative. It’s also extremely well played, and the additional chunkiness of that second drum kit never seems to overload the music. 

It’s got some absolutely epic bangers, too. Henchlock, which closes out the album, is a 20 minute odyssey of astounding scale and ambition. Similarly, The Daily Heavy appears to have co-opted a squeaky toy as an auxiliary percussion instrument. This is incredibly fun, satisfying music. See them live if you can.

Oh Sees Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri September 06 2019 - LONDON Troxy

Click here to compare & buy Oh Sees Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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