Recent Release Round-Up: Thee Oh Sees, The Black Keys & Ty Segall
Written by Christopher Ramos on July 5, 2019
Thee Oh Sees (Oh Sees) – Henchlock
Smote Reverser was a huge leap for the Oh Sees last year, featuring dynamic sounds that were sinister and glorious. It was yet another installment in the ever-growing discography and the album also showcased a shift within the band’s style. Sure, the polarizing riffs and solos by John Dwyer were as clear and as distinct as ever, but their arrangements sought to conquer new ground.
“Henchlock”, the latest release from the Oh Sees, reinforces that idea. The whopping 20-minute song is the first single from the band’s upcoming double-LP titled Face Stabber. The ingredients that make up this Gilmour-Waters esque endeavor are as follows: A tight-knit rhythm, luscious keys littered throughout and tantalizing riffs that speak a mysterious language.
It is a psychedelic odyssey. It is also posses a jazz underbelly, which is a refreshing change of pace. Given the heaviness of Orc and Smote Reverser, Dwyer and company delivered a nice surprise. It seemingly plays out as an improvised jam sesh, which is fair game when it comes to recording. Dwyer stated in an interview with Billboard last year:
“We record every rehearsal, every improvisation we do. Anytime we’re working on new material we’ll pretty much record everything. Have half-hour tracks that I go through and notate and learn and use that to write from. It’s sort of like farming, you know?”
It wouldn’t be foolish to expect other long cuts (probably not 20 minutes) on the Oh Sees’ upcoming album since it is slated to be a double-LP. Face Stabber will be released on August 16th through Castle Face Records, the same day as King Gizzard’s upcoming album. Mark your calendars accordingly.
The Black Keys – Let’s Rock
After a lengthy hiatus, the Akron bred duo of Patrick Carney and Dan Auerbach has returned.
Released on June 28th, Let’s Rock is a statement record that proves Carney and Auerbach still have it. After their lackluster 2014 release, Turn Blue, the group called for a break and veered into other musical avenues. Both Carney and Auerbach ventured into producing for other bands. Along the way, Auerbach went on to record a solo album in 2017, while Carney was piecing together music for the Netflix show BoJack Horseman. Although it was good to see that they kept themselves musically active, fans were left wondering when the bluesy-garage rock unit would return.
The worries dispersed, as the release of three singles garnered wide eyes and an influx of excitement. “Lo/Hi”, “Go”, and “Eagle Birds” were put forth to the fans. All three singles possessed the classic blues licks and pounding drum fills that make up The Black Keys’ magic. Undoubtedly, “Lo/Hi” was the brashest song of the trio. A straight-forward ordeal, it is infused with high energy and soulful vocals from Auerbach that are catchy as hell.
However, diving into the record, the attitude is dialed back a bit. Cuts such as “Tell Me Lies” and “Sit Around And Miss You” aren’t high-speed forces coming at you. Instead, they opt for a slower tempo and are justified by pleasant melodies. “Walk Across The Water” is the best execution of this method, as the heartfelt atmosphere is complemented by heart-tugging songwriting. It shares a striking resemblance to “The Slider” by T.Rex without shamelessly copying and pasting. If anything, it can be looked at as a beautiful ballad and a homage to the legendary rocker Marc Bolan.
“Get Yourself Together” displays the duo’s ability to churn out a rocking tune that follows a pop cadence but isn’t saturated by gimmicks. With its upbeat presentation that is only enhanced by harmonizing backing vocals, it sounds as though it could have fit right into their Brothers album.
For those that may be longing for the grittiness of Rubber Factory and Thickfreakness, you won’t find that on this album. That’s not to say there isn’t any bite to the record. Simply put, it’s a well-crafted effort with rough edges. It’s an enjoyable listening experience for the most part, although songs like “Tell Me Lies” and “Every Little Thing” don’t possess much replay value for me.
Also, it’s important to know what you’re getting at this stage of the game with The Black Keys. I don’t want to call Let’s Rock uninspired or discredit its intentions, but it’s not offering anything new sonically. It sticks to its blues-rock backbone and never strays away. Yet, when it’s all said and done, it’s a solid album and a welcomed return for The Black Keys.
Ty Segall – Radio
Speaking of artists that we can expect an album from soon, Ty Segall released a second single titled “Radio” on July 1st. The first single, “Taste”, was released last month and it kicks ass. Plain and simple. It’s a hard-driving psych-rock punch with lots of fuzz. The way Segall intertwines his guitar and synth to create such raw power is impressive. Cue the Emotional Mugger comparisons. Also, the music video is definitely worth checking out.
A sludgy sitar-rock tune with a sci-fi theme, “Radio” is a different approach from what we’re used to seeing. While that’s not a bad thing at all, it’s hard to formulate much of an opinion. It still hasn’t stuck with me at all. I love the theme but the redundant instrumentation cancels that out. It’s nothing against the sitar-rock sound because I could go put on “See My Friends” by The Kinks right now and be pleased. That’s the catch with writing about music, your feelings on a piece is always subject to change. Maybe in a matter of days I’ll feel different about it but as of now, I think “Taste” is miles ahead of “Radio.”
Still, seeing Segall experiment with new styles does make me excited to see what’s in store on First Taste which is set to be released on August 2nd. I just hope further experimentation doesn’t follow this model.