What’s the first thing you think of when someone mentions Thee Oh Sees? Probably their riot-sparking live show, right? Visions of a guitar-chewing, melody-maiming John Dwyer careening across your cranium, rounded out by a wild-eyed wrecking crew that drives every last hook home like it’s a nail in the coffin of what you thought it meant to make 21st century rock ’n’ roll?

Yeah, that sounds about right. But it misses a more important point-how impossible Thee Oh Sees have been been to pin down since Dwyer launched it in the late ‘90s as a solo break from such sorely missed underground bands as Pink and Brown and Coachwhips. (While Dwyer still records songs on his own, Thee Oh Sees is now a five-piece featuring keyboardist/singer Brigid Dawson, guitarist Petey Dammit, drummer Mike Shoun, and multi-instrumentalist/singer Lars Finberg.)

That restlessness extends to everything from the towering, 13-minute title track of 2010&rsquo;s Warm Smile LP to the mercurial moods of 2008&rsquo;s <i>The Master&rsquo;s Bedroom Is Worth Spending a Night In</i>. And then there&rsquo;s the Bay Area band&rsquo;s recent track record, as Thee Oh Sees chased the home-brewed symphonies of Castlemania with the scrappy high wire hooks of <i>Carrion Crawler/The Dream</i>. Originally envisioned as two EPs, it was cut live to tape in less than a week at Chris Woodhouse&rsquo;s Sacramento studio in June, reflecting the battering ram bent of the band&rsquo;s live show better than any bootleg ever could.

As I'm sure most would agree," explains Dwyer, "Castlemania was more of a vocal tirade. This one's meant to pummel and throb."

That it does, whether you blast the slow, speaker-bruising build of "The Dream," the sunburnt organs and dovetailing guitars of &ldquo;Crack In Your Eye,&rdquo; or the interstellar instrumental that is &ldquo;Chem-Farmer,&rdquo; a perfect example of what happens when you take a well-oiled machine-a gang of rabid road warriors, really-and add a second, groove-locked drum set to the mix. To listen is to realize that Dwyer&rsquo;s music is as manic as the underground comic inclinations of his artwork; colorful and confusing in a way that&rsquo;s more than welcome. It&rsquo;s downright refreshing, like a slap in the face at 5 in the morning.

Or as Dwyer puts it, &ldquo;You have to leave a mark somehow.&quot;


Thee Oh Sees Videos (1):

Thee Oh Sees
at Pickathon 2012:

Thee Oh Sees
at Pickathon 2012: