Thee Hounds of Foggy Notion is the soundtrack to a series of live recordings Thee Oh Sees made around the San Francisco area in 2007; not on stages but in non-traditional performance spaces like the side of a busy highway, in the forest, and on the beach. The songs were meant to be recorded by a tape recorder, but it proved bulky and the sound was instead captured through one microphone wielded by the camera person. The band is John Dwyer on guitar and vocals, Brigid Dawson on harmony vocals, Toby Dammit on guitar, and Patrick Mullins on drums, playing quietly and powered by a generator. The record/DVD was recorded just as the band began to shift from the lo-fi freak folk of the OCS and early days of Thee Oh Sees to a more powerful and wildly electric sound; this collection of performances works as a sort of summing up of that scrappy psych folk sound before they fully transitioned. It's stripped down and haunted with a little bit of rumbling garage rock noise on the rockers and there's a fragile, almost tender approach on the ballads -- especially the painfully lovely "Golden Phones," which features some fine saw playing by Mullins. The band sound locked into each other, playing with restraint but also with fuzzy passion. Dawson in particular adds a great deal to the mix; her vocals mesh perfectly with Dwyer's and create a spooky sweet sound. The songs are mostly taken from previous albums, though a few are new and a couple -- "Ghost in the Trees" and "Block of Ice" -- ended up on 2008's Master's Bedroom Is Worth Spending a Night In with full-band arrangements. Thee Hounds of Foggy Notion is the best kind of live album. It documents an era of the band in fine fashion, but also presents their songs in a new and interesting way.
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra