“Dear music reviewers,” reads Thee Oh Sees’ MySpace blog. “We do not sound like the B-52s, please stop saying that.” Politeness still counts here in the 21st century, and since this San Francisco-based act asked so nicely, I’ll be generous and not compare them to the bubbly aforementioned party band. Instead I’ll say that Thee Oh Sees sounds like an updated bastard child of the John Spencer Blues Explosion and Southern Culture on the Skids.
What’s modernized about this reverb and distortion-happy record is the presence of Dave Sitek (of the band TV on the Radio) in the producer’s chair, on backing vocals and playing an instrument here and there. Sitek’s experimental contributions on the mellotron might be the sole determining factor that keeps John Dwyer and Brigid Dawson’s quirky male-female call-and-response numbers from descending into B-52s territory. That and the fact that, with all the effects knobs cranked to 11, the listener can barely make out the words that Dwyer and Dawson holler back and forth at one another.
Regardless of what the band’s fuzz-laden message might be, this raucous album begs to be played loudly. On a road trip. In a Chrysler that’s as big as a whale. (Caroline Keys)
Thee Oh Sees play the Badlander Wednesday, Oct. 8, at 9 PM with Deny the Dinosaur and Bridgebuilder. $5.