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New releases from Thee Oh Sees, The Archies, and Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster 

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click to enlarge Thee Oh Sees
  • Thee Oh Sees

Thee Oh Sees

A Weird Exits

Castle Face

File next to: Ty Segall, White Hills

San Francisco's Thee Oh Sees' reputation for being prolific was cemented when a double live album arrived in July, followed in three weeks by this latest studio effort, A Weird Exits. Contrasting the two releases points out the strengths and limitations of the Bay Area psych-rock movement. The precision of tracks like "Plastic Plant" and "Ticklish Warrior" shares common ground with bands like White Hills, albeit with less love for pop riffs than on 2015's Mutilator Defeated at Last. The live album, by contrast, buries their sound in indistinct fuzz, in the process sacrificing the distinct themes that characterize '60s garage rock and '90s lo-fi. Ultimately, listeners may want to bask in the crawling-walls psychedelia of the band's studio work, while skipping the live shows. Or maybe Thee Oh Sees just need to turn off the fuzz pedal. — LW

click to enlarge The Archies
  • The Archies

The Archies

Sugar, Sugar: The Complete Albums Collection

Goldenlane/Cleopatra Records

File next to: Bay City Rollers, Jackson 5

After his experience with The Monkees, pop impresario Don Kirshner made the calculated decision that his next project would be one in which the artists couldn't rebel. Thus was born The Archies, a cartoon group that only existed on television. Well, that's not completely true: A real-life studio collective including Jeff Barry, Andy Kim and Ron Dante were — to varying degrees — responsible for five studio LPs. Most people remember "Sugar, Sugar," and some will recall "Archie's Theme (Everything's Archie)," but the remaining 48 songs are largely forgotten. This new five-CD set brings them back. The bubblegum songwriting and playing is surprisingly strong; there's even a garage-rock vibe to some deep cuts. Things get a bit less interesting toward the end, but this music is better and weightier than you might expect. — BK

click to enlarge Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster
  • Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster

Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster

Constant Stranger

Big Legal Mess/Fat Possum

File next to: Jason Isbell, Kingsley Flood

The lead singer of Oxford, Mississippi's Water Liars, Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster here delivers the kind of classic throaty singer-songwriter style represented by Glen Hansard, or even an acoustic Bruce Springsteen. While the songs work as simple guitar-voice ballads, Kinkel-Schuster also multitracks his own drum and keyboard accompaniments, playing everything except for a bass track from recording engineer Bronson Tew. More important than arrangements, though, are his lyrics in songs like "Whose Will Be Done" and "Moccasin Bones." They come across as deceptively simple at first, but carry the loaded, multiple-meaning lines favored by lyricists like Gram Parsons. Constant Stranger feels like a throwback to the Southern California troubadours of 40 years ago, except that Kinkel-Schuster's references are very much rooted in the 21st century. — LW

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