While playing in the bands Pink & Brown, Zeigenbock Kopf, and the Coachwhips in the late '90s, guitarist/vocalist John Dwyer found he needed an outlet for songs that didn't reach the same level of frenzied noise as those groups. He chose the name Orinoka Crash Suite, or OCS for short, and began recording the folky psychedelic songs in a lo-fi manner, mostly on his own at first. Orinoka Crash Suite contributed tracks to the Stealing Babies and Blank Memory compilations in 1997, You're Soaking in It... The Sounds and Smells of Load Records in 1999 under the name OCS (which was their official name thereafter), and Looking for the Perfect Glass: California Post Punk (U.S. Pop Life, Vol. 11) in 2001, and began work on an album. With the help of a range of musicians, including Pink & Brown's drummer, Jeff Rosenberg, Dwyer recorded 1, a double album divided into two separate parts, the mostly acoustic 34 Reasons Why Life Goes on Without You and the noisier 18 Reasons to Love Your Hater to Death. It was released in 2003 by the Tumult label.
Working quickly, and with a new batch of musicians, Dwyer returned in 2004 with a track on the SSSSSOSS cassette and the second OCS album, 2, for Narnack. Around this time both the Coachwhips and Zeigenbock Kopf disbanded and OCS became Dwyer's main band. He added saw player Patrick Mullins to the lineup and began work on another album of noisy psych-folk. OCS quickly released their third and fourth albums, Songs About Death & Dying, Vol. 3 and OCS4: Get Stoved, as a double CD in 2005, again on Narnack. Around this time, Brigid Dawson, a friend of Dwyer's and member of the duo Mix Tapes, joined the band and they changed their name to Thee Oh Sees for their next album, 2006's The Cool Death of the Island Raiders, which retained much of the freak folk air of OCS' work. Over the next decade-plus, Dwyer operated under permutations of the Oh Sees name, cranking out numerous albums of ferocious garage punk, while playing shows that left both band and audience drenched in sweat.
In 2017, Dwyer brought back the OCS name for an album of delicate and weird psych-folk that felt like an update on the lo-fi sound of past recordings. He teamed with Dawson in the writing process and early stages of recording, then brought back Mullins to add saw and electronics, a string section with arrangements written by Heather Lockie, and occasional horns under the guidance of Mikal Cronin. Memory of a Cut Off Head was released by Dwyer's Castle Face label in late 2017. ~ Tim Sendra