If you already found yourself enjoying this year’s Castlemania, you might want to preview the newest release from Thee Oh Sees, as it’s not quite the same animal, but equally as important in the band’s catalogue. Carrion Crawler/The Dream is really comprised of two EPs, and while their most recent work focused on short psych sprints, this one definitely has a distinguished jamming quality, akin to their live setting.
“Carrion Crawler” begins this affair with a brief exercise in strutting about, musically, before the band moves into their psychedelic wiggle, with chords being strummed rapidly as Thee Oh Sees find themselves getting into their groove. While previous efforts, at least in 2011, placed emphasis on the vocals, this time around they just come off as part of the mix. It might not be the most convincing recording, but it definitely gives you the image of the band’s phenomenal live show. You’re pretty much going to find Carrion Crawler/The Dream revolving around this realm for the first few tracks of the album, that is until you get into the night-tinged instrumental, “Chem Farmer.” From here, you’ll find yourself getting into the classic sound, if we could call it that, of the band.
“Opposition” is a furious bit of jangle pop, with a catchy vocal delivery, similar to the works on Castlemania, though there’s a bit more grit to this one. Still, you can’t help but hear the influence such songs have on the group’s live performance, with bits of guitar meandering in contrast to the rest of the group, providing that ramshackle joy Thee Oh Sees bring to the stage. Similarly, “Wrong Idea” has a stomping rhythm that seems to bounce the listener in the right direction, before the rest of the track sort of goes into a sort of psychedelic haunting. But, what’s important is imagining the band banging this one out, as those guitar lines are clearly made for audio destruction.
Personally, I find the latter half of the record to be the most appealing, at least when putting this record on repeat for continuous spins. Songs like “Crushed Grass” display the band’s vibrance, with John Dwyer’s enthusiastic yelps blasting through the speakers. Even as the feedback fills your ears and the chugging guitars cut through on the back side of the track, you can still hear what makes this band so enjoyable, on record or at the local club. They’re dark, yet playful, which owes to what we must be led to believe is an exceptional amount of work honing their skills.
Carrion Crawler/The Dream definitely provides listeners with an entirely different view point than what was offered up earlier in the year with Castlemania. That being said, it seems to fill the gaps between studio album and live show, bringing those with careful ears the knowledge that Thee Oh Sees are on the track to surpassing all their peers. Just another step in the right direction for one of my favorite groups.