Thee Oh Sees, Fresh & Onlys, Cococoma | Schubas | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Thee Oh Sees, Fresh & Onlys, Cococoma Critic's Choice Early Warnings (Music) Recommended Soundboard

When: Sun., Sept. 27, 9 p.m. 2009

San Francisco oddball John Dwyer has put his stamp on all kinds of subversive sounds over the past decade, from the blatty noise rock of Pink and Brown to the snotty ersatz gay techno of Zeigenbock Kopf, but with his group Thee Oh Sees he’s finally started to dig into old-­fashioned pop songs. It’s gone by several names (OCS, Ohsees) and was for much of its history essentially Dyer’s home-recording project, dabbling in textural noise and meandering acoustic folk, but for a few years now it’s been an actual four-piece band. Thee Oh Sees’ terrific 2009 album Help (In the Red) is hardly about to storm the charts, but Dwyer has overhauled the group’s lo-fi garage rock with his sharpest, tightest hooks yet. The 60s still seem to provide much of his inspiration—the primal, stomping beats, the fuzzed-out “Psychotic Reaction” guitars, the ghostly AM radio harmonies he sings with Brigid Dawson—but subtle touches like the old-timey hillbilly chorus in “Ruby Go Home,” the post-Troggs flute tooting in “Meat Step Lively,” and the faux strings in “Peanut Butter Oven” turn the Thee Oh Sees’ primitive thrum into something much more than just another Neanderthal garage retread. These songs will stick hard in your memory, as though you’d first heard them 40 years ago. The Fresh & Onlys and CoCoComa open. —Peter Margasak

Price: $12, $10 in advance

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