L.A. via San Francisco via Rhode Island weirdo John Dwyer is the one constant in the Oh Sees (who have also gone by Thee Oh Sees and OCS, among other permutations). I first saw Dwyer play with his short-lived Load Records noise band Pink and Brown at an equally short-lived Northside venue called Eating Cake around 2001. They were touring with Lightning Bolt and set up opposite Lightning Bolt's equipment so that at the very second Pink and Brown was done hammering out its wild, cacophonous set, Lightning Bolt started in, essentially out of nowhere. My mind broke. It was a trick that sort of reset the typical live music experience for me.
I got pretty attached to the iteration of the band with Petey Dammit and Brigid Dawson because they had some magical chemistry. But Dwyer's got some good players here, with the drummer from !!! (aka Chk Chk Chk) adding another layer to drummer Dan Rincon's rhythm work, and Tim Hellman (from Sic Alps). Orc is a pretty good stoney riff fest. "Animated Violence" and "Keys to the Castle" make me think of USAISAMONSTER, complete with octave-snaking guitar solos. The drums on "The Static God" and "Cooling Tower" sound like an homage to Jaki Liebezeit of Can. I want to love this, but I end up just really liking it, because I dug the old version of the band and I can't quite hit the reset button. But it's damn good playing, and Dwyer's never wanting for ideas.
Oh Sees play Monk's Fri., Sept. 22, at 8 PM, along with Magpies and Sunraiser. $23/$20 advance.