Thee Oh Sees - Live In San Francisco (2LP + DVD)
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Thee Oh Sees are one of the more prolific bands around, cranking out album after album of damn good garage rock that's noisy, hooky, and whip smart. The band's leader, Jon Dwyer, is also a blazing hot guitarist -- his way with a chunky, blown-out riff is magical, and his solos are like barely controlled lightning. His skills come through dazzlingly enough on studio albums; on 2016's live album, Live in San Francisco, they smack you in the head with a nail-studded 2x4 until you see enough stars to light up the darkest night sky. Dwyer and his band rip through a selection of songs from past albums, burning with manic energy and threatening to burst through the speakers while still managing to build in enough dynamic tension to keep it all from barreling the listener over. For every rocked-out song with pounding tempos and unhinged guitar mauling, like "I Come from the Mountain" or "Withered Hand," there's a relatively restrained and spooky track, like the trippily meandering "Sticky Hulks" or rollicking "Tidal Wave," which provide balance and a chance to catch some deep breaths before the next onslaught. The record captures Dwyer and the group at their peak powers, and while maybe it's not as good as seeing the band on-stage, where Dwyer's gleefully wild antics take it right to the edge of being a spectacle, it's pretty spectacular. It also proves once and for all that Thee Oh Sees are definitely the most powerful, inspired, and fierce of all the scuzzy garage rockers and fuzzy psychedelic bands of their era.