Osees : Protean Threat

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Osees—or OhSees or Oh Sees or O.C.s—have 23 albums under their belt and seemingly just as many name changes. Yet there’s a kind of logic to it; the name changes are somewhat fitting, as each album finds John Dwyer and company bringing with them a shift in sound. Sometimes it’s a change in production, and at other times they lean into another stylistic approach. Protean Threat only continues that tradition, with the band offering up one of their most eclectic sets of songs, all of which seem too short to ever wear out their welcome.

The album kicks off with more of a punk thrashing at its onset, with “Scramble Suit II,” which is more quirky than heavy in its manic intentions. The newfound zaniness does dip back into more familiar garage rock territory on second song “Dreary Nonsense,” though there is still an old-school punk feel to its attitude. The songs are brisk little ditties, cramming a lot into just a minute and a half. A jazz influence creeps into “Red Study,” and ChkChkChk’s Paul Quattrone seems to leave a more tangible and palpable imprint here.

Burly, fuzzed-out punk emerges on “Terminal Jape,” which highlights the overall dynamic range of the album, with instrumental “Wing Run” is at the other side of the spectrum, harboring a quaint pop feel despite its proggy math leanings. At four and a half minutes, “Said the Shovel” is twice the length of most other songs here, getting comfortable inside of its funky trippy grooves. Oddly, with the extra time on their hands Osees cover less ground than they do when burning through their two-minute songs.

At this stage of Osees’ career, an album of kitchen-sink punk rippers like Protean Threat seems unlikely to expand their audience. They have an impressive enough following, however, and there’s a hunger for what they do, however they choose do do it, even if it’s not for everyone. There’s a lot happening on Protean Threat, and there’s a lot to like, even with the knowledge that the songs probably sound even better live—2020 has not been kind to bands like this, who serve up songs that shine brightest on the live stage. But even without that in-person injected into them, the songs on Protean Threat are a much-needed injection of fun into a year when that’s become increasingly hard to find.

Label: Castle Face

Year: 2020

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