Thee Oh Sees – Carrion Crawler / The Dream EP – Review
Written by Staff on September 17, 2023
Thee Oh Sees – Carrion Crawler / The Dream EP
My copy: 2022 reissue on magenta vinyl by In The Red Recordings.
Twelfth studio album from ever-recording maniacs that make up Thee Oh Sees (or now just Oh Sees), Carrion Crawler / The Dream is a 40-minute EP that was recorded entirely live. The record suffers from a few production lapses, likely due to its straightforward recording ethos, but makes up for what it lacks with catchy vocal hooks over garage/psych fusion.
Jazzy guitar chords make up the basis of “Carrion Crawler” while solos tear a hole through the rhythm with crisp feedback. The drums have a vivid crunch to them, and though they play sophisticated chords at times, the tone is ever sloppy. Track two is a mish-mash of an original song as well as a take on CAN’s “Soul Desert” that features fat, bluesy bass. The track is more anthemic, and smoothes out with layered vocals before being swept away once again by crashing cymbals. The mid-focused production becomes a bit glaring on “Robber Barons” but as new delayed noise elements are introduced, the track is saved from falling to boredom.
“Chem-Farmer” is an energetic instrumental track that gives the bass and drums a moment to show off before the short hooky blast of “Opposition (With Maracas).” Kicking off the b-side, “The Dream” is by far the best track. Repetition is used a lot across the album, but none do it quite like “The Dream.” The bass is just menacing enough to keep the tone ambiguous amidst the searing solos that rattle the core of the song. The drums are also perfectly paced, stripping down before the song reblossoms with hearty shouts and never-ending riffage. “Wrong Idea” has an interesting guitar progression with a stunted droning synth over a simple but effective drum pattern. The bass is kept away at first, serving as a reward that deepens the structure.
The buoyant “Crushed Grass” features the most infectious vocal hooks with sharp, muted guitar and digitized beeps. Steady key drones on “Crack In Your Eye” set promising standards but cheesy vocal harmonies force the song to fumble slightly. The final track is a fairly normal garage/punk tune with some fun scales and delayed vocal yips.
Despite being longer than some of their full-lengths, this is vexingly labeled as an EP. No matter the designation, they can’t escape the fact that some tracks are purely underwhelming and by the books. That said, there are high points (mostly the whole B-side) that elevate the record above typical garage schlock. I’d pick it up just for “The Dream” and “Crushed Grass.”