Weekly Spins

Through Grief or Hallucination

Thee Oh Sees bring the full band back with Carrion Crawler/The Dream. Photo Kelly O.
Japanther’s eighth LP is full of high voltage danceable punk rock.

Thee Oh Sees
Carrion Crawler/The Dream
In the Red Records

With the lure of a snake charmer, John Dwyer returns from the dark with demon punk power. Thee Oh Sees’ second LP this year, Carrion Crawler/The Dream brings the band back in a bigger, heavier way. From the first vibrating chords of the Side A opener, this record is a deep, dark trip for the modern psychedelic punk.

The album is a loose, jammy block of DIY-fi garage punk, quite the opposite of the record he put out this summer. Instead, Dwyer brings his bandmates back in the studio for a rougher ride than the largely solo Castlemania. The quartet expands Dwyer’s distorted visions, cakes them in thunder and sludge, cackling demon at the helm.

Rolling percussion, rumbling bass, and echoing waves of noise wash over each track, guitar left to rattle and clang against the tide or flood the moment with feedback-heavy red-hot leads. Thee Oh Sees show they’re a full-fledged band, far from the experimental solo work that birthed this. It’s a trip for lovers of living, fire-breathing music, finger on the pulse of garage sounds of the past, bloodshot eye to the future.

– Colin Harris

Beets, Limes And Rice

You can call Japanther what you like: new punk rock, anti-pop, art-punk, party-punk or New York noise. Whatever you think fits best, the bottom line is that this hard-to-place power duo from Brooklyn is first and foremost an unstoppable assault of the half time, pop-driven, high-energy breed, and an undeniable example that punk rock still has its footing in the 21st century.

Originating as an art project out of the Pratt Institute in New York, Ian Vanek and Matt Reilly have been pumping out fast, noisy, and dangerously addictive albums full of youthful buzz for almost 10 years.

Familiar to lo-fi, straight, simple and fuzzed out tracks of hyperactive noise, Japanther’s eighth LP Beets, Limes And Rice sees the duo bringing it down a notch, without losing their edge.

There is something fundamentally different about Beets, Limes And Rice; somewhere behind all the pop and fuzz there is lament, and a heartbreak that drives the tone of the album the whole way through.

It’s the band’s first release since the loss of their close friend and late member of The Death Set, Beau Velasco. Throughout the album the band pays subtle homage to Velasco.

“This is our first record we put out since he died, so we wrote some very emotional, strange, spiritual music,” Vanek said in an interview with Exclaim! “It can be particularly difficult when you’re sad to write about what you want to write about without making your music sound sad and fucking boring.”

That said, 14 songs long and just shy of 30 minutes, this boiled down masterpiece races straight to your heart and grips you. It took me all of two listens before I started catching myself whistling its melodies as I went about my apartment.

“First of All” starts the album off with a strummed out fuzz guitar, a repetitious pop melody, and a straight-forward, no bullshit declaration: “First of all, fuck you all/echoes loudly through the funeral hall/I just can’t erase it.”

Riding on straight-shooter punk rock speed and power, fuzzed out and chunky guitar lines, and backed by clean and punchy half-time drum tracks, the album dips and staggers back and forth between uplifting party punk, and songs chock full of latent melancholy.

The thing with Beets, Limes And Rice is that it’s a fast, pop-driven punk album that deals with the loss of a loved one while maintaining its cool and composure. This album is 14 tracks of high voltage danceable punk rock, and with their live performances a thing of legend, you really wont want to miss Japanther the next time they roll through town.

In that interview with Exlaim!, Vanek says it best: “It’s definitely still a very fun record about being a young person in the world that’s not afraid to die and not afraid to live.”

– Corey Pool