Thee Oh Sees: 'Carrion Crawler/The Dream'

Thee Oh Sees

Carrion Crawler/The Dream (In the Red)

There's a noisy little beast on Thee Oh Sees' 13th studio album (and second in 2011 alone) called "Opposition (With Maracas)." There isn't a single maraca on the track. Just snot-bass bass, the pummel of two pawn shop drum kits, and electric guitars as nasty as bathroom-stall graffiti. I have absolutely no idea why the San Francisco quintet decided to pull the trigger on that song title, but it's a pretty telling little half-joke as it is: Even when Thee Oh Sees pretend to expand their sound, they're still shit-kicking the same old garage-bound rock they were banging out on their first LP.

Carrion Crawler/The Dream is nastily recorded and impatient in its forward thrust—the whole thing sounds like it could have been written in real time and laid to tape in an anonymous truck stop during a drunken post-gig stupor. But group mastermind John Dwyer, despite his often elementary-minded approach to songcraft, always manages to stumble upon homespun excitement, mostly through his band's sheer relentlessness. The album gets off to a slightly rough start—the gnarly rocker "Carrion Crawler" never really takes flight, and "Robber Barons" gets lost in its own reverb. But when they're on, they're still scary good. Flexing the extra muscle of their newly beefed-up rhythm section, Thee Oh Sees launch into a particularly distorted outer space on "The Dream," ending up somewhere between krautrock and stoned karaoke night.