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Album Review

"Tight" isn't a word that fits comfortably when describing Thee Oh Sees, but on Help, the second full-length effort from John Dwyer's garage psych marauders, the band has certainly learned to find order amidst chaos in a manner that eluded them on their 2008 debut The Master's Bedroom Is Worth Spending a Night In. The basic approach on Help isn't particularly different than on Thee Oh Sees' first effort — the guitars are thick, ringing, and dripping with reverb and distortion, the rhythm section pounds away in a simple but relentless fashion, the massed vocals approximate vintage California-style harmonies in the midst of a trip on dirty acid, and the songs take traditional garage rock changes and bend them a wee bit as the production runs them through just enough low-budget studio trickery until they resemble a paisley nightmare oozing out of your speakers. Still, while most of the tunes on Help sound as purposefully messed up as ever, they're just a bit tidier and more straightforward here, and the stronger framework makes a positive difference. Similarly, the performances sound more unified and less chaotic here, as if everyone is following the same vision that lurks over the horizon for a change, and the ferocity of Dwyer's guitar is potent, locking into the crash-boom-bang of the bass and drums with impressive force. And while full-on assaults on reality like "Enemy Destruct" and "Soda St. #1" are the order of the day on Help, there's enough of a pop lilt in "Go Meet the Seed" and "Can You See?" to confirm these folks saw some real nice colors while making this album and have a variety of tricks in their repertoire to express them. You might not trust Thee Oh Sees to give you a ride home after a gig, but if you're looking for a seriously buzzy rave-up, Help certainly delivers the goods.

Biography

Formed: 1997 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

One of the cornerstone bands of the post-millennium garage/psych resurgence, Thee Oh Sees represent a purposefully chaotic fusion of guitar and synth noise, strong and elemental melodies, and addled but focused attacks. Thee Oh Sees were founded by guitarist John Dwyer; originally from Providence, Rhode Island, after relocating to California in the late '90s, Dwyer became active on the San Francisco indie scene, working with several bands, including the Coachwhips, Pink & Brown, Yikes, Up Its...
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Help, Thee Oh Sees
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