Album #247: Osees – Protean Threat

  • Released: 2020
  • Origin: San Francisco, California, USA
  • Label: Castle Face
  • Best Track: Mizmuth

People who insist on their records being filed in alphabetical order must hate this band. The experimental rockers formerly known by names like OCS, Oh Sees, and Thee Oh Sees released their latest album today, under yet another new moniker.

Under all these names, Protean Threat becomes an extraordinary 23rd studio album for the band now going by the name Osees, who continue to every more than one LP a year, with their first coming out in 2003.

I’ll say now that I haven’t been that into what I’ve heard from them since 2016’s A Weird Exits, which is my favourite of their albums along with 2009’s Help. A Weird Exits was followed later that year by An Odd Entrances, and the titles of the two records seemed to allude to a departure from the noise rock elements of their earlier work, and a venture into a more experimentative sound with even elements of funk, I would say.

Consequentially, I wasn’t wowed by Protean Threat either on first listen, but it’s grown on me a lot with repeated plays. One of the most interesting recent developments with the band is the introduction of a second drummer, which sounds ridiculously unnecessary, but on tracks like ‘Said the Shovel’ and album highlight ‘Mizmuth’, you see the value of this.

It’s like there’s a lead drummer and a rhythm drummer. One concentrates on the percussive pounding drums, while the other is tasked with the more intricate rhythms, including cowbells. It’s a reflection of the more subtle and nuanced din they’ve moved towards since 2016.

There’s no doubt some Osees records are better than others, but despite their profilic nature, they never feel rushed or half-arsed. It’s quality as well as quantity.

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