OCS – Memory of a Cut Off Head
Memory of a Cut Off Head is a typically strange experience from OCS and one which might not translate to newer fans of the band looking for their trademark psyche-punk sound
Trying to keep up with the many, many, many, versions of the insanely prolific John Dwyer's projects is about as head-spinning as his music. For 20 years now he has been using some variation on the OCS/Oh Sees name and has never been particularly consistent with it. Just this year alone, Dwyer dropped "Thee" from "Oh Sees" for the first time in almost a decade with Orc and has now followed that up with a return to the band's original name (in studio albums terms at least) OCS here.
Memory of a Cut Off Head is the 20th studio album in the OCS/Oh Sees timeline, and sees a return to Dwyer's original intention for a solo project set aside from his other bands Coachwhips and Pink and Brown. Dwyer's latest also sees a return of one of his longest-serving collaborators, Brigid Dawson, who last appeared on Thee Oh Sees' excellent 2013 record Floating Coffin which pre-ambled a short-lived "hiatus" of about six months.
It seems odd to think now, but OCS was originally the understated Dwyer project; a space for him to try out his songwriting hand away from the layers upon layers of reverb, distortion and manic drum rhythms. So his 20th album sees a return to the hushed, acoustic version of the band but from the other side of a decade "under the influence" right from the opening title track. Dawson takes the majority of the lead vocals here, proving why she was a beloved member of the band in her time, including some Baroque flourishes on tracks like On and On Corridor. When Dwyer leads, as on The Chopping Block, his voice bare and unexposed, he sounds like Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie to an unnerving extent.
While an intriguing return to Dwyer's roots and to Dawson's charming voice, Memory of a Cut Off Head is a typically strange experience from OCS and one which might not translate to newer fans of the band looking for their trademark psyche-punk sound.
Listen to: Memory of a Cut Off Head, On and On Corridor, The Chopping Block