AOTY: Oh Sees_ Orc

Oh Sees under many different names and members have a prolific portfolio of albums over the past 15 years. Their dedication to making and playing music shows for all the right reasons on their latest album Orc.

They have always had a garage rock sound but rather than becoming a stereotype of the genre they treat it more as an aesthetic. A fairly traditional rock band set up is then stretched to its very limits over the playtime of Orc as they skip across many genre with ease. The reason the band can go from prog to punk in 16 bars before switching to metal is because the sound design and choice of instrumentation provide the glue that holds the experimentation in place. It’s done so skilfully that on first listen you may miss its creativity completely, but take a minute to analyse the tracks and you’ll soon be amazed by how many styles and genre they play with throughout the albums ten tracks.

Of course this would only be an interesting intellectual exercise if it wasn’t backed up with great music to prove its worth. Orc has it in spades. Catchy, instantly recognisable guitar melodies fill this album with massive blues riffs and intricate fast soloing. These are accompanied by a verity of keys and synths to provide texture and tight precise bass, mixed with a unique double drum section, creating drive and direction.

On Orc, Oh Sees are showing a band with years of experience using the same equipment. Equipment that punches way above its weight with the skills involved. In a musical world where it’s so easy to buy new, cheep equipment to solve issues, this is no mean feat. You can hear the craftsmanship. The hours of training, blood, sweat and tears put into wringing every last potential out of their existing instruments and effects. It goes to show that elbow grease and learning your tools is always more effective than a bigger toolbox and for that they have to be applauded. Creating an album that shows what hard work can achieve and one of the best albums of the year.