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3 and 4

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Album Review

If any country takes the cake when it comes to pigeonholing artists, it's the United States. Some American artists have managed to be total chameleons while recording for major labels — Prince and the late Miles Davis immediately come to mind — but in many cases, musicians who are known for a particular style of music are expected to stick to it. Side projects can be a way around that; with a side project, an artist can do something totally different from the type of music he/she is best known for. John Dwyer is a perfect example of that; he's best known for leading the noisy, distorted, in-your-face Coachwhips, but his side project OCS doesn't sound anything like that Bay Area band. 3 and 4, a two-CD set, has been greatly influenced by something that hasn't had any effect on the Coachwhips: folk-rock. But this 2005 release isn't a conventional folk-rock outing by any means; rather, Dwyer and colleague Patrick Mullins combine that folk-rock influence with bizarre, experimental electro-noise and a very muffled sound. It's a strange mixture, but a strangely appealing one — and most of the time, it works. 3 and 4 is mildly uneven and has its excesses; this album probably would have been better off if Dwyer and Mullins had omitted some of the less essential material and provided a single CD instead. But 3 and 4 has more ups than downs, and Narnack Records deserves credit for documenting more than one side of Dwyer's artistry. All things considered, 3 and 4 is an enjoyably intriguing demonstration of Dwyer's ability to do something that will never be mistaken for the Coachwhips.

3 and 4, OCS
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