Virgil Porter

People use genetics to explain away a lot of things: genius, addiction, and even obesity. Well, why not rock 'n' roll then? Throughout the history of rock music there are a few—let's call them "the chosen ones"—who seem to be blessed with a startling sort of invulnerability, with years of drugs, sex, adrenaline, and tinnitus bouncing off them like raindrops off a dolphin's back. Iggy, Ozzy, Keith Richards, and Lemmy Kilmister—you know the type. The great survivors that, for all intents and purposes, should be buried deep in the ground or in a care facility, eating through a tube. Yeah, having the cash for blood transfusions in Switzerland can't hurt, but there's something more, some inner mess of grit and DNA that just makes these folks physically superior to you and I.

Well, I'd like to throw the name John Dwyer onto this list of infamy. Certainly Dwyer has neither the fame nor the cash flow of these esteemed peers, but love him or hate him, Dwyer's name is inextricably linked to today's underground rock community. More importantly, this touring monster has the physical stamina of Mike Tyson on a whiskey binge. The trail of terror left by Dwyer's bands—Pink and Brown, the Coachwhips, and Ziegenbok Kopf—is littered with tales of destroyed clubs, epic binges, and feats of mind-boggling punk gymnastics.

With such a legacy to live up to, you can hardly fault the man for taking a step back for a little introspection; so let me introduce to you the Ohsees. Once the outlet for Dwyer's acoustic bedroom experiments, the Ohsees (also referred to as OCS) have now augmented into a fully functioning band. Their new release on Narnack Records, The Cool Death of Island Raiders, is an excellent slab of reverb-drenched folk-pop. Like dusty old recordings of drug-addled artists Skip Spence or the Red Krayola, Dwyer's new songs create an escapist landscape that's both ethereal and engaging. While his pace may have slowed a bit, John Dwyer still boasts the DNA to dominate.