Thursday, March 7, 2013

New music from False Priest and Thee Oh Sees

Uncanny Valley
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 While his Handshake co-frontman Devin Clary generally employed an eyes-closed, head-in-the-clouds performance style, Evan Greenwald would stare relentlessly into the crowd, ensuring every lyric was pressed into their heads; he applies this same aesthetic to False Priest, the band he now fronts.  Their debut Uncanny Valley is an intensively lyrical album, finding Greenwald roasting the super-rich kids of his native Marin County through pointed observations dotted with bizarre, Tweedyesque couplets like “my hands are garbage disposal blades.”  His deliberate, menacing tone of voice, combined with the punchy yet relatively simple music, hammers every lyric in like a nail.  Though Greenwald’s unquestionably a great songwriter, the music is far less interesting than the lyrics; the textures are electric and rockish (with the exception of the successful country experiment "The Internet"), but they raise the ultimately unanswered question of whether this is a rock record or an electric singer-songwriter record.  Yet there’s a few great bits of verse-chorus genius scattered throughout: “Novato” rides an awkward riff that stumble forward like a newly hatched chick, and “You Hang Lights From Yr Neck” plays like an extended, song-length hook over which the lyrics scramble athletically.  

“Toe Cutter - Thumb Buster”
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 If there’s anything Thee Oh Sees’ last few albums have taught us, John Dwyer knows how to write a rock song.  “Toe Cutter - Thumb Buster” did not change this opinion, but he already wrote a few highly similar songs to this--“Lupine Dominus” pulled the no-chorus, all-riff trick to much better effect, while the contrast between metallic guitars and rockabilly-echo vocals is very reminiscent of “The Dream.”  However, it’s the atmosphere this song creates that makes it more than a simple retread; the swagger in the song’s beat and the moments of levity between crashing tides of guitar evoke walking down a crowded street in San Francisco during that weird late-winter hot spell.  “Toe Cutter - Thumb Buster” is nothing new for Thee Oh Sees, but it suggests that like protege Ty Segall, Dwyer may be content to distill his sound rather than stake out new ground on upcoming Thee Oh Sees record Floating Coffin.  

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