Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased tracks, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Contraption/Soul Desert” by Thee Oh Sees from the 2011 album Carrion Crawler/The Dream on In the Red.
Originally from Rhode Island, John Dwyer took his Northeast upbringing and moved west to San Francisco, where he found even more inspiration spraying from the Pacific Ocean breeze. The music of his early career spanned genres (rock, punk, metal and noise) and bands (CoachwhipsPink and Brown, and The Hospitals to name a few), until Dwyer developed a solo project over several albums, contributing members and bands names like The Ohsees, OCS, Orange County Sound, and Orinoka Crash Suite. In Thee Oh Sees (formerly ), Dwyer is joined by Brigid Dawson on vocals and keys, Petey Dammit! on guitar, and dual drummers Mike Shoun and Seattle’s own Lars Finburg (from The Intelligence, an underground rock solo situation that collected himself a Stranger Genius Award this past fall). So far, the band has been prolific. It’s difficult to say what number album Carrion Crawler/The Dream actually is, since Thee Oh Sees put out multiple albums per year — their last, Castlemania, was released this past May! It wasn’t even intended to be an album at all but rather two EPs that ultimately seemed to sit together very well. So well, in fact, that KEXP DJs have been rethinking their Top 10 lists with its release.
On today’s featured song, “Contraption/Soul Desert,” there is high energy from the first beat that gets under the skin. Only the emotionally dead can sit still through it. Brigid Dawson adds a soft, whimsical twist to the sharpness of John Dwyer’s vocals without hindering the edge that he’s teetering on. Driving through and keeping up the gritty energy are the quick bursts of drums regenerating the melody and unleashing another reserve tank of punk on the ready. Since 2004, Thee Oh Sees have been churning out albums and EPs, live albums and singles. While most bands mellow out with time, Thee Oh Sees have gotten more raucous and copped more attitude over time, garnering praise for their often sold out and energetic live shows.
In fact, Thee Oh Sees were just in town performing a sweaty set at The Crododile but a week ago. You’ll have to wait a bit for them to come back, but knowing them A) it won’t be very long, and B) they’ll likely have two new albums by then! Check out their website for future updates. For now, here they are performing one of the new songs live at Portland’s Doug Fir Lounge during KEXP’s broadcast from MusicFest Northwest last year: