Sean O'Brien and His Dirty Hands / Press

“San Fran rocker Sean O’Brien has been on the scene long enough to perfect his craft, having cut his teeth with the so-called “paisley underground” (notably as a member of the Davis, Calif., legends True West) and collaborated with a host of likeminded vets. His current touring band includes Camper Van Beethoven’s Greg Lisher, while the new Risk Profile album features Matt Boudreau on drums, Tom Hofer on bass and such guests as Lisher and musicians from Four Non Blondes, Engine 88 and Penelope Houston’s band. This spells a recipe in confidence and finesse, with O’Brien stepping decisively up to the songwriting plate. He swings for the fences right away with “Rehabilitated (I Want You),” all angular guitars and edgy rhythms. Then in rapid succession he essays woozy psychedelia (“Final Say”), jangly pop (“How I Hate That Hand”), and choogling rock (“I Can’t Say No”). There are also moments of expansive, atmospheric cinema, such as the brooding “Torn Down & ”

“It has been been some time that my opinion of an album has changed so much every time I’ve listened to it. Is the word ‘grower’ still used to describe an album that takes some time to really get into your blood? If so then ‘Future Harvest’ must rank as the grower of the year. Sean O’Brien has been making music for some twenty-five years, originally fronting California based bands before moving to Los Angeles in 1991 then returning to his native Bay Area in 2001. I must, however, confess that this is the very first time any of O’Brien’s music has reached these ears. Denim TV, the Mariettas, Cottonmouth; all the bands that O’Brien has been involved with through the years have somehow passed me by. ‘Future Harvest’ would appear to be the second album O’Brien has released with his latest band the Dirty Hands. It can only be said that, if any of the many albums O’Brien has been involved in are as varied musically and as far-reaching as these twelve original songs”

“Four years ago I reviewed “Goodbye Game”, which, if memory serves, I described as an album of solid entertainment, referencing Dave Edmunds, Dodgy and Shakin’ Stevens. Sean’s new one “Future Harvest” is essentially in the same ballpark; a full band, rock-pop songs, crashing drums and riffing guitars. ‘Shadow Sharks’ is big and beaty, ‘Advice Coming In’ adds Hammond organ to the mix, while the title track is retro ‘fifties style – a return to Edmunds. ‘A Thorny Path’ is an acoustic delight and the album highlight, not least in its gorgeous string quartet backing. ‘Leaves’ goes into country’n'western territory, ‘Your First Clue’ returns to rock, ‘The Dress Of Tara Jane’ is out-and-out US country, while ‘Not Always So’ returns to riffing rock. Album closer ‘Sister, I Have Fallen’ appears to be a confession of some kind. An album of solid entertainment, albeit rather more US-leaning than last time, and so, perhaps to its detriment, falling”

“‘Future Harvest’ is the latest CD from SEAN O'BRIEN. He is more than ably backed by a range of musicians throughout the album, with a notable mention due to Jeff Kane on slide guitar. Opening with ‘Shadow Sharks’, this is an album that grips the listener. It's the sort of muscular new wave that bands these days would kill to be able to do effectively. The lyrics are interesting and evocative, all about the rat race. ‘River of Greed’ is the first truly outstanding track on the album. It's a fascinating heavy country blues hybrid, with a Bo Diddley style beat that really shines. For me, the album's finest track of all was ‘Privatized’, the sort of rock track that even Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds would be proud of. The music on this track has a timeless quality and stretches beyond genres, however the lyrics are very much in the here and now, outlining the problems of capitalist society.”

““On his 5th solo record ‘Future Harvest’, Californian singer-songwriter and rocker Sean O’Brien has his best leg showing all sides as a musician. Through blending solid rock songs with melancholic and melodious ballads, this sympathetic performer demonstrates his ability to Diversify and at the same time to be excellent in different styles of music. ” - www.rootstime.be – (Belgium)”

“FUTURE HARVEST Though his voice sounds unnaturally high in the opener, Sean O’Brien is a capable rock singer and an excellent cobbler of lyrics. The subject in “River of Greed” wears a seersucker suit and sings about a crisis of faith; an article of clothing is besmirched in “The Dress of Tara Jane.” While O’Brien’s music seldom strays from a conventional rock template, it does have its moments — namely, “A Thorny Path,” which features strings by Magik*Magik Orchestra. (First Cold Press)”

“Future Harvest - O’Brien is reliable. Every couple of years the East Bay vet who goes back to 80’s Davis days in Meantime and True West heads back into the studio with his Dirty Hands, and they put the wraps on another roots-rock, roots-country, psych-rock hybrid. I know he’s covered Rank and File’s “Amanda Ruth”, and here he offers the country ballad “Leaves”, but given his Paisley Underground roots, he can’t be pinned down or easily. He injects acerbic wit and social critique into workingman’s rock songs like “Shadow Sharks”, acoustic folk with strings for “A Thorny Path”, Bo-Diddley-and John Lee Hooker-gone-Syd Barrett madness for “River Of Greed”, and other points in between. With some more cameos from such luminaries as The Sneetches’ Chris Von Sneidern (again) and his tongue in cheek words to the fore, Future Harvest is an eat-your-peas crop. – Jack Rabid – The Big Takeover (#70) ”

“I’ve just received the new single from Sean O’Brien And His Dirty Hands. ‘Leaves’ is a long, beautiful, country-tinged ballad about parting and upheaval; there’s keening pedal steel from Max Butler, and O-Lan Jones and Chris von Sneidern providing vocal support. It’s going to be followed by a new album entitled Future Harvest. O’Brien is a veteran of the Paisley Underground. Recently he’s put out a couple of cracking solo albums, as well as a career retrospective The Drug Of Memory which does go back all the way to Davis days and The Meantime with Russ Tolman. Plus, Goodbye Game is a dandy little package with something of an Eastern theme, and contents that roar along very nicely. What’s endearing about O’Brien’s work is his ability to take elements of recognizable influences, such as Nick Lowe, Television and Sgt. Pepper’s-era Beatles but never let them overwhelm. That’s partly down to his rich voice – little like John Cale but not so Welsh – but also to”

“Sean O'Brien, The Drug of Memory. This 23-track retrospective spans nearly thirty years of mostly unreleased material from Kensington musician Sean O'Brien through his work with the Meantime, True West, Denim TV, Cottonmouth, and the Mariettas. His songwriting and production improved markedly over the years, but rarely strayed from a distinctive blend of New Wave and American underground. (First Cold Press)”

"Goodbye Game" - Sean O'Brien is the very epitome of the seasoned campaigner. His 30-year CV includes stints with bands such as Meantime (who would later mutate into Paisley Underground contenders True West), Denim TV and The Mariettas. This latter also featuring ex-Leaving Trains and Baby Lemonade/ Arthur Lee & Love personnel. The opening brace of tunes, including the anti-depressant, self-help pop of 'Take Your Pills' and 'Warm & Sane' give you some idea of the ballpark we're in here. The former has tinges of 'Pleased To Meet Me'-era Replacements, while the zig-zagging guitars of 'Warm & Sane' brings Steve Wynn's 'Melting In The Dark' favourably to mind. The sound on songs like these and the barely-suppressed angst in 'Bones Snap' (“split me open...pull out my black intentions”) is finished and well-rounded, but never too polished, and there's plenty of room for windmilling power chords to detonate. This is a decent album with enough mystery and allure to tempt the discerning.

“Goodbye Game - Sean O'Brien And His Dirty Hands is, as you might expect, Sean O'Brien and his band, here releasing their second album "Goodbye Game," the theme of which is the many ways people say goodbye to one another. Two bright and breezy openers rattle by in indie style (think Dave Edmunds meeting Dodgy), but the mood does change through the album. "Aftermath Fears" is a lugubrious rock'n'roller in 3/4 time - one of the best cuts on the album - while "All That I Don't Know" has a country and western feel to it. All the songs are written by him, with one exception, and interest levels are kept throughout by change of mood and tempo. "Get Over Tunis" is a mildly bonkers faux-reggae stomper, while "New Home Tonight" is the sound of Dave Edmunds with a hint of Shaking Stevens' "This Ole' House." Great track! The closing cut "Goodbye Game" is a return to pacy indie, with bittersweet lyrics and rocking guitar accompaniment. An album of solid entertainment.”

"Goodbye Game" - Sean O'Brien has had a career as a lead singer in several Californian bands stretching over the last quarter of a century. Sean O'Brien is at his best when at his rockiest and there are plenty of up tempo tracks to keep both old and new fans happy. "Warm and Sane" is a tribute to Sleater-Kinney while "Bones Snap" is an unusually upbeat song about celebrating your birthday alone and is reminiscent of mid 80's era REM. The themes explored by O'Brien are quite diverse and range from antidepressants ("Take Your Pills") to Middle Eastern war ("Aftermath Fears") and Greco/Roman mythology ("Home to Penelope") with plenty in between. When the tempo drops as it does for "All That I Don't Know" the results are equally impressive. If you are a fan of some of the great American 'Indie' bands of the 80's such as The Replacements and REM, and enjoy some of the grittier moments of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, then there is plenty to love on "Goodbye Game". Highly recommended.

“Seit fast einem viertel Jahrhundert macht. In all der Zeit hat er sich die Freude zum Rocken und die Liebe zum ungeschmirgelten Indie-Sound erhalten, so dass sein neues Werk so frisch und unverbraucht klingt, als wäre es sein erstes (und das war immerhin in den 80ern eine Scheibe seiner ersten Band True West, die er zusammen mit seinem Kollegen Russ Tolman gründete). Immer wieder lässt sich Russ von gleichgesinnten Musikern wie Sylvia Juncosa, Julie Wolf oder Chris von Sneidern begleiten und inspirieren, was seinen Songs eine unprätentiöse, zeitlose Qualität verleiht. In vielerlei Hinsicht ähnelt O'Brien Kollegen wie Steve Wynn oder Frank Black in ihrer Phase nach der ersten Band, wobei sich seine Songs dann doch eher am Punk oder Rock als am klassischen Gitarrenpop orientieren. Da aber Sean dennoch ein Ohr für Melodien, Hooklines und Riffs hat, ist diese Scheibe nicht ohne Pop-Appeal. Sean O'Brien steht halt nur mit beiden Beinen links der Mitte. Dort steht er aber sehr gut.”

“The real shame of Seed of Mayhem is that it's creator is one of the band of musicians that you're unlikely to discover unless you're either lucky or look very hard. He is a talented, insightful writer and a skilled and honest performer, best of all Seed of Mayhem is completely without pretension. There is a relentlessness about Sean O'Brien, he hits you with the power pop of This Could Hurt and then proceeds to hit you again and again. Cleaner That Way is a dark and dank look at the world while Torn Sweater appears, at first, to be little more than whimsy, but in truth is a soulful hymn to growing older. It would be easy to bracket Sean O'Brien as one of those musicians just too 'honest' to ever really court major success, but the way Seed of Mayhem develops beyond first listen, makes him an artist worth investigating further. Undoubtedly, Seed of Mayhem could have been nothing more than a fond nod to the past, that it is much more is testament to Sean O'Brien's talent.”

The Berwick Advertiser / Berwickshire News (UK) - The Berwick Advertiser / Berwickshire News (UK)

“Sean O'Brien has a long history stretching back to the early 80s days of Davis, CA.Seed of Mayhem is the second such solo album. The raucous opener "This Could Hurt", featuring the guitars of Russ Tolman (True West) and Manfred Hofer (Leaving Trains), sets a benchmark of fine playing, but this is truly varied record both instrumentally and stylistically. O'Brien takes all the guitars himself on the wicked, early-Sonic Youth-like "Stumblebum." "Dough See Dough" is a jaunty ska tune with horns and accordions, "The Bottom of The Toy Box" a gentler song with Cale-like vocals and cello embellishments from merlin Coleman. 'Damned Either Way" with pedal steel and the voice of Kim Martini is country-hued, while "Possum Ate The Cat Food", with tabla and tampoura, gives a nod to "Tomorrow Never Knows." O'Brien's a committed songwriter too. The strong, precise, neo-con-damning "Cleaner That Way" and the final "A Bee's Tale" show an exploring intelligence that's been waiting for a wider audience.”

“Sean O’Brien’s ‘Seed of Mayhem’ features 14 gritty tunes. Indeed, ‘Seed of Mayhem’ is as good as anything Steve Wynn has done lately – which is to say it’s very, very good.O’Brien’s tense vocals set the mood for ‘This Could Hurt’ a sharp tune distinguished by the guitar work of O’Brien, True West’s Russ Tolman and Leaving Trains axeman Manfred Hofer (Trains alum and Hofer brother Tom plays bass). O’Brien changes the pace with a series of detours, starting with the acoustic number ‘The Bottom of the Toybox’ featuring nicely fingerpicked guitar and cello. ‘Damned Either Way’ adds some country flourishes, including pedal steel courtesy of Red Meat’s Max Butler. The choogling scree of ‘Tranny Ignored’ gets points alone for the timeless couplet "I don’t care how you piss/ Just as long as you do". A winner from start to finish, ‘Seed of Mayhem’ is recommended to anyone who likes the tougher side of powerpop, or the solo work of artists like”

“Seed of Mayhem - Sean O’Brien has been knocking around in bands in California for the best part of a couple of decades. He has released solo efforts before, as well as been part of records by The Mistaken and The Mariettas. His style is rooted in early 80s alternative, so think ‘Murmur’ REM, but, oddly enough, with a hint of prog thrown in, so there’s rather more noodly guitar than you might expect from an REM comparison. Though the performances and the writing are not exactly ground breaking, there is something likable about Sean. He’s got a groove that he’s good at, as proved on ‘Stumblebum’, or the poppy ‘The Good Fight’, but he’s not afraid to venture a long way from it to explore different ideas, not that they always come off, but the willingness to try is an admirable quality. Oddest venture is ‘Dough See Dough’ which sounds like a German omm-pah band playing ska, not one that’s scoring heavily on repeat plays so far! This is a decent record of solid”