A bit of time has passed since Thee Oh Sees released Warm Slime, but we’ve not got the first of two 2011 releases from the band, Castlemania. Apparently the band dedicated a lot of time in the studio to the recording of this record, and while the songs are kept short, the extra layers definitely provide a great deal of depth to the band’s sound. It’s a record full of twists and turns, all of which leave us asking, what can the band do next?
“I Need Seed” begins our affair with bit of a repetitive stomp from the group, though that’s a good thing here. Call and response lyrics, make this a catchy ditty, but it’s not too polished, keeping the live element of the band on the studio recording. Then you’ll move into a bit of a boogie with “Corprophagist,” which blasts off with horns and such amid the cacophonous vocals evident here. It’s an energetic beginning to Castlemania, and one that sets the tone for the places Thee Oh Sees will go.
Studio effects are definitely apparent by the time you get to “Corrupted Coffin,” which features some sort of organ, atop all the horn work. Slower pacing creates the space for the band to bring their own noisy style into the area where one might normally place a chorus. But, this track doesn’t prepare you for the following number, “Pleasure Blimp.” You can see similarities with Sonny and the Sunsets, using that old barroom country effect to create a sing-a-long melody, though their version is filled with a little less clarity in regards to the sound of the vocals. Different band, different spin.
Even with all the twists and turns, you can easily follow the musical path on Castlemania, which, personally, contains some of my favorite tracks. “Whipping Continues” shares some style with the opener, providing you with a bit of a stomp, but it’s the melodious vocals, aside from the baritone in the background, that really reach out and suck you into the song. Wild yelps give you hints at how Thee Oh Sees kick it out live, combining great studio moments with live attributes. You’ll then find a bit of swagger with “AA Warm Breeze,” which uses varying vocal approaches, not to mention a mean little harmonica soloing in the various spots. Then the band get as close as they probably ever will to a nice ballad with “If I Stay Too Long.” Everything about this track should make you a fan of the band, or at the very least the song. There’s that bit of discordant noise, yet the chorus with its dominating female vocal illustrates just what a bit of focus in the studio can do for an already incredible band. Probably one of my favorite tracks of the year.
There’s sixteen songs on Castlemania, and not a one of them could be considered a bad track. From the minute the whole record kicks off, Thee Oh Sees are taking a new approach; they’re combining quality recording time with their live energy. At times, you feel as if you’re right there stomping your feet along at your favorite venue, and at other points you’re glad the band had the wherewithal to give a little bit more depth to their powerful sound. In the end, you’re not going to go wrong spending a lot of time here.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/INeedSeed.mp3]
Download: Thee Oh Sees – I Need Seed [MP3]
Castelmania is out now on In the Red Records!