The ever prolific John Dwyer of Thee Oh Sees decided in 2013 that operating one brilliant garage pysch band wasn't enough to keep him occupied, so he started working on a solo album of synth pop weirdness under the name Damaged Bug. The first album to be unleashed, 2014's Hubba Bubba, was a good, weird, and messy exploration of synths and sound. A fine start for sure, but the second transmission, 2015's Cold Hot Plumbs, blows it away in both the sound and songs categories. This time out Dwyer tips the balance in favor of the songs, turning in a batch that would have been highlights on Oh Sees' albums. Only instead of ripping guitars and crashed-out drums, he clothes them in hypnotic drum patterns, burbling synths, and restrained, almost robotic vocals. There's loads of Can influence, and lots more vintage keys and vocals on display. Some tracks even bring in guitars, and these are the tracks that click into place and become something close to perfect. "What Cheer," for example, might be the best pure recording Dwyer has ever made. Other tracks come pretty close to that high standard -- "Jet in Jungle," the swirling "Cough Pills," the brilliantly psychedelic "Cones" -- but what makes the record so good is the high quality throughout. That and the wide range of super cool synth sounds. It may be a side project but Dwyer really put all his formidable talents into Cold Hot Plumbs. What makes it even more impressive is that it came out only a couple weeks after Thee Oh Sees' excellent Mutilator Defeated at Last album. Most people can't even get one decent band together, that Dwyer can crank out two top-notch, very different projects at once is a testament to the kind of near genius he is.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra