I only knew the garage rock band Oh Sees (previously Thee Oh Sees, The Ohsees and a lot of other names) from their liner on the KSDB student radio station. But when I saw they came out with a new album called “Orc,” I knew I had to check it out.
“The Static God” is a great first track because it’s fast-paced and chaotic in an amazing way. I rarely hear songs where the vocalist isn’t the main focus, but in this song the ear-splitting electric guitar gets to take the lead.
The album then shifts into the very synth-heavy “Nite Expo,” which sounds like it came straight from the late 1980s.
The next song, “Animated Violence,” is about the stereotypical buff guy. “Old is warrior / Drink the poison / I am warrior / Crush your head in.” It is purposefully simplistic because the focus is on the music, specifically the drums.
“Keys to the Castle” is where the album starts to shift. It starts off similar to the other songs, but around the three minute mark it slows down to the point of sounding almost sluggish, and then it gradually builds itself back up with violins and an upright bass. As out of place as that sounds, the track is amazing and a great change of pace.
The next song, “Jettisoned,” takes more of a blues approach, bringing back the synthesizer and adding whispered vocals. “You can keep your nose buried deep, yeah / Pinched inside a vice / Who likes sugar in their coffin? / The underground is twice as nice, yeah.” But in between verses, the drums and guitar get a lot heavier, shifting back and forth from blues to rock.
To change up their sound even more, the focal instrument in “Cadaver Dog” is an electric keyboard, and the vocals sound like a pirate chant. Again, these things don’t seem to go together, but they do.
The next couple of songs are okay, but nothing great. They’re more slow-paced than the rest of the album, and would work better as transition songs instead of appearing back-to-back near the end of the album.
The last song, “Raw Optics,” builds back some of the energy from the beginning of the album and closes it on a high note.
Overall, “Orc” manages to be both a fun, upbeat rock album while also experimenting with putting different sounds together in a way that pays off.
Monica Brich is a junior in mass communications writing on behalf of KSDB, Kansas State’s student-run radio station. The views and opinions expressed in this review are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian or KSDB. Please send comments to [email protected] and visit ksdbfm.org for more reviews.