He did punk, noise, and string-ripping garage rawk that could scare Ty Segall into cradling his acoustic like a little baby. He’s the old school biker, tattoos overlapping, gobbing massive amounts of spit simply standing there and, I am told, the nicest man in San Francisco. So, what do you do when you’re Mr. John Dyer, godfather of a decade of distorted fuzz, whose little children play Bonnaroo, get the Times treatment and played Letterman? You throw it all out the door.
On their latest two records, A Weird Exits and An Odd Entrances, the latter which comes out today, Dwyer takes his band, Thee Oh Sees, deeper into whatever ground remains resolutely unexplored in the band’s previous ten-or-sixteen (depends who’s counting) records. Dwyer doesn’t really leave the 60s and 70s so much as absconded from an evening of beating the Nuggets, Rubble, Pebble-dead horse and what not for actually hard-to-touch territory of early-Velvet Underground and work of Arthur Lee. This works itself out in curious ways: “The Poem” is something like “Sunday Morning” if John Cale decided to go behind the mike and on “At the End, On the Stairs,” Dwyer whips up the kind of sweet dread-flavored bubblegum pop that Thee Oh Sees haven’t done since “Stinking Cloud,” of 2011’s Castlemania.
But these references don’t do Dwyer justice. An Odd Entrances solidifies the idea that Thee Oh Sees are up to something truly creepy and weird in the dripping Lovecraft-kinda way that their album art suggests. “Jammed Exit” (which compliments the more wonky “Jammed Entrance,” from A Weird Exits) is a hushed symphony of reserved synth lines and funky drums that sounds like how you would remember Fantasia, if you had dropped some serious acid while watching it. Now, everybody from Wayne Coyne to your dad, before you knew him, has tried to bark up the ghost of Syd Barrett and got increasing diminishing returns but I’d like to see a band like the Stardeath and White Dwarfs try to pull half the creaking, chiming, chugging weirdness contained in An Odd Entrances‘ opener “You Will Find It Here”: six minutes of tightly wound horns that crack with the twitching chords of a madmen and slathered around the droning beat of huffing organs that belong in your local hamlet’s screening of Nosferatu.
For a Thee Oh Sees record, hardscrabble pieces of fried up rock and spit as they are, An Odd Entrances is perhaps like nothing Dyer and his motley crew have recorded before–the closest precursor would probably be Hubba Bubba, a neo-krautrock gem that Dyer recorded as Damaged Bug in 2014. But Dyer is an axman, damn it, and it’s on “Nervous Tech (Nah John)” where he lets that cat out of the bag and out pops an eight minute guitar solo that is more beast than man or vibrating string. Droning hums and Ege Bamyasi-era drums try to wrap around the slithering and dirt-dragged thing but really can’t and give way shortly to a wailing solo that recalls nothing from the oft-aped palettes of Jimmys Hendrix or Page but Eddie Hazel’s “Maggot Brain” overheard playing in Black Lodge from Twin Peaks. It’s wack.
An Odd Entrances is out now!