Dusted Reviews

The Ohsees - Sucks Blood

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: The Ohsees

Album: Sucks Blood

Label: Castle Face

Review date: Jul. 10, 2007

Following last year’s Cool Death of Island Raiders, it looks like John Dwyer and his Ohsees outfit have adjusted to the afterlife quite well. They’ve returned undead with Sucks Blood, five albums deep and showing marked improvement in the studio, honing in on their blend of reverb-soaked twang pop and crafting an album that finally lives up to the group’s potential. The title may suggest that they’ve transformed into zombified parasites, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t had the time to practice. With members that have been heavily involved in the Bay Area noise rock scene (Dwyer in Coachwhips, Pink and Brown, and the Hospitals; Petey Dammit in Big Techno Werewolves), they’ve taken this opportunity to tone it down a bit, settling into something resembling folk music for ghosts. The sounds hang in eternal limbo, kicking rocks out of relentless boredom and shuffling to guitar jangles in the corner, cobwebs overhead and a hollow memory of life in the San Francisco sunshine.

All the themes and overall techniques displayed on past releases are present here, this time incorporated perfectly in a lo-fi garage haze, unshakably catchy and unflinchingly sardonic. The tape crackle and garbled vocals on 3 & 4 sounded too similar throughout. The mix of muddy reverb collage and catchy coos on Cool Death were placed a bit uncomfortably. But with the proper blending of melody, audio experiments and underlying abstractions, Sucks Blood comes off seductively casual. The band’s penchant for weirdness was pretty blatant before, but here the group has learned how to work in those elements as smoothly as possible, just enough for uneasy effect. I usually dig such confrontational displays, but also adore subtle peculiarities in lo-fi pop when its seams don’t show.

“The Ship” is probably the best example of how well the Ohsees have pulled things off. Distorted bells ring weirdly under the mix, providing an odd depth to the tune and giving it the faint edge that makes this music so bizarre. The rhythms seem as if they’re about to fall over themselves, jerking with sluggish precision and no desire to rush things. Faint noise flourishes creep in frequently underneath Brigid Dawson’s lovely vocal accompaniments with a fragile but sharp grace, constructing an airy darkness out of charming apathy.

Though “It Killed Mom” isn’t as shower sing-along-friendly an opener as the “The Guilded Cunt” was on Cool Death, it still jolts things to life with heavy garage stomp and demented lyrics, rambling coolly about mothers and guns. The halted chops of “You Make Me Sick” spit bitter opinions on unattainable beauty, radiating disdain but past the point of giving a fuck. Lyrical clarity is definitely a welcomed development when compared to their earlier releases, giving Dwyer’s songwriting skills the chance to shine after spending so much time spouting near-indecipherable yelps. But the most beneficial improvement here lies in the basic sequencing of the tracks and incorporation of their short tape drones, this time included effectively at the end of “The Killer,” and as the album’s closer – an eerie fade to pitch black and cricket chirps.

After feeling out the place, wandering around the hereafter with drum mallets and a bag full of reverb, the Ohsees have established themselves with the album they were capable making all along. With such masterful steps in solidifying their sound and highlighting their best qualities in splendid moderation, let’s hope they don’t wander off too far into the nighttime soundscape that bids Sucks Blood adieu.

By Cole Goins

Other Reviews of The Ohsees

The Cool Death of Island Raiders

Read More

View all articles by Cole Goins

Find out more about Castle Face

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.