Music Reviews

Thee Oh Sees Castlemania

(In The Red) Rating - 8/10

There’s one important aspect to the “garage-rock” category and it’s the fact that this description is a tribute to a location; the place where the music is created is a representation of the breed. The domain is heavily involved with the sound, the attitude and the inspiration. This has remained a very simple and faithful concept since the early 1960s. It’s evident that John Dwyer, who primarily acts as THEE Oh Seer and garage rock maven, was heavily under the influence of his location while constructing Castlemania. This will be the last brain child of Dwyer’s to be conceived in his apartment/workspace in San Francisco, a place he holds “near and dear to his heart” that was recently taken over by “rich assholes”, as he states in the liner notes. I’m not necessarily sure if this facet makes Castlemania special, but it does make it a reflection piece. Let’s face it, there’s a strong chance reviews of the current LP will be drowned by the buzz of yet another new release. This is just speculation, but the point is Thee Oh Sees have already proven to have no shelf life. Castlemania is clearly not the end of anything. John Dwyer will find another place in time where he can be the art-punk gourmet he clearly is. We’ll see if the old saying, “location, location, location”, holds true.

For having sixteen tracks, it goes by pretty fast. There’s the familiar psychedelic backdrop they’re known for, but you’ll be surprised by how many of these songs you can sing along to, in lieu of having a seizure to, which you will most definitely see in a pit at their shows. The bizarre, ghoulish vocals and jangle you hear in opener I Need Seed continues throughout the record, but every once in a while a poppy Beatles-like substance rolls around. Prime examples are If I Stay Too Long, Blood On The Deck, and Pleasure Blimps, which offer a window for more conservative listeners to actually give this avant-garde collection a chance. This window shuts abruptly with moments of harshness and screeching guitars in Corrupted Coffin and sinister shrills and LSD flashbacks in Castlemania.

Despite the moments where you feel like you’re having a bad trip, there’s a deranged brilliance on Castlemania that's difficult to ignore. I may just be a sucker for ensembles, but when you can find appropriate, and sometimes cleverly inappropriate places for so many instruments and melodies, it’s like watching someone breathe fire. You think they’re absolutely nuts, but you know if you could pull it off, you’d try it.