Share RIGHT, YEAH - Thee Wylde Oscars (Off The Hip)
Theory and Practice are two distinct and very different things. For example, in theory, I should love Lady Gaga. She is an attractive New York performance artist who likes to shock people by wearing meat dresses and occasionally pretending to have a penis. She sounds like everything I expect from my pop stars. In practice, loving Lady Gaga would involve listening to that dreadful plastic noise she attempts to pass off as music. Clearly, I do not. Thee Wylde Oscars may be asking themselves at this point what all this has to do with them. If I begin my next sentence with the words "In theory, I should love Thee Wylde Oscars", all will become apparent.

Hailing from Melbourne, Thee Wylde Oscars have their Rickenbacker guitars. If they don't have Vox amps they're saving up for them. They have haircuts and an album sleeve design in the style of the Rolling Stones circa 1965. Their name implies a connection to Billy Childish (even though there is none). In theory, they have pedigree or at least can see what a pedigree is supposed to look like. In Theory, I really should love Thee Wylde Oscars. Sixties. Garage. Soul. A touch of the Hives, The Who and the White Stripes. Surely, they're going to get an easy ride from me. I mean to say, I champion this stuff. Surely, I'm simpatico with that lost zeitgeist that they're trying to invoke and re-invent. Surely, I get what they're trying to do.

The trouble is that I don't. There's something wrong here and I'm just trying to put my finger on it. It's not that I hate what I'm hearing. It's just that I'm not loving them in the way that I should. They remind me a lot of the Stems, a band I once loved but went off of during their last tour as instrumental breaks began to spin out to bloated excess. It's the way they have filtered the garage influences through the beer-goggled lenses of pub rock. The guitar solos go on just a little bit too long without anything to justify them in terms of skill or originality of style. The rhythm guitarist quietly slips into a seventies style twelve bar chug when he thinks no-one is looking. All the songs sound about thirty seconds to a minute too long for their own good.

Thinking about it, what I'm actually hearing is a missed opportunity. This is a great performance from a good band recorded in the style of their live shows. I'm sure they are fantastic in that setting. I'd go and see them. I'd clap and I'd cheer. They have fire in their bellies and are as tight as a fish's back passage. What I am not hearing here is a record and therein lies the problem.

A good record is almost always more than the simple capture of a live show. Because the medium presents itself with more opportunity than a live show, it squanders studio time not to take advantage of those possibilities. I know studio time is now pressed by the restrictions of a diminishing audience and returns. I understand financial constraints demand economies but Thee Wylde Oscars really needed a producer to step in and cut them down to the lean, mean fighting machine it takes to make a great record. They needed someone to dig around and find those hooks. Songs like "Right, Yeah" and "Big Bad Wolf" would have made great singles if such things still existed or if someone had thought to address those songs in that way.

The theory here involved the potential to deliver up a five bottle album. The raw materials are all clear and abundant. Instead, in practice, everything on display here is just an album track stamped out of the same mould. It's a shame, really. - Bob Short


 

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