Artist of the Week: The Fresh and Onlys

The resonance of Alice falling helplessly through the rabbit hole opens The Fresh & Onlys latest album, Grey-Eyed Girls. The first line, “You don’t have to pay for beautiful skin/ When you live in a black coffin,” reveals a Wonderland that occasionally dips into American McGee’s macabre video game version. If you’ve never played it, just know that the box art features Alice wielding a bloody vorpal sword and the Cheshire Cat’s anatomy is more akin to Skeletor.

Their sound doesn’t drift into Cannibal Corpse territory by any means, but lead singer Tim Cohen does have a penchant for kooky lines about hookers, imaginary friends, and baby stealing clowns. Bassist Shayde Sartin has explained that it’s not a facade, “he’s just a strange and funny dude.” The group has listed 13th Floor Elevators and Minutemen among their influences, and a quick YouTubing will affirm these statements.

Tim’s reverbed vocals and Wymond Miles’ bristling guitar style shows off a 60’s finish, while the majority of the songs (clocking under three minutes) display a punk aesthetic. Standout track “Dude’s Got A Tender Heart” brandishes both qualities. The opening guitar/drum jab sounds like Vincent Vega trying to resuscitate Mia Wallace with a well-placed adrenaline shot, but once Cohen chimes in it feels like you should be running your fingers through some long, blonde locks on a hilltop. The rest of the record steers you through their versatility, from the magnetic force field surrounding “No Second Guessing” to the galloping philosophical cascade of “What Goes In A Circle.” One drive through the album, and you’ll come to realize how suitably named they are.

The band had a humble start four years ago, when Cohen and Sartin started making home recordings on a tape machine after they put in hours together at Amoeba Music. When no substantial material formed through their time together, Cohen focused on his work with Black Fiction, while Sartin split his time between Skygreen Leopards, Papercuts, and Citay. Then a little over a year ago, Tim brought some new songs to Shayde and sparks were ignited. They went on a recording rampage and penned almost 30 tracks together. They had so much in their hands, that they decided to start a cassette label to release their work called No Foot Boogie Tapes. Then Cohen and Sartin recruited fellow Bay Area musicians to form The Fresh & Onlys. This included Miles from Wymond and the Spirit Children, drummer Kyle Gibson formerly of The Pattern, and backup singers Heidi Alexander and Grace Cooper from The Sandwitches.

The past year has seen a flurry of releases from the group. Kelley Stoltz (another Bay Area connection) released their debut 7-inch Imaginary Friends EP. John Dwyer of Thee Oh Sees issued their self-titled album on Castleface. Woodsist just delivered their latest Grey-Eyed release and Seattle label Dirty Knobby Industries put out another 7-inch this past summer. Chicago label HoZac and Brooklyn’s own Captured Tracks are delivering singles soon, and In The Red will turn loose yet another full length by year’s end.

The Fresh & Onlys are at the forefront of activity spewing out of San Francisco lately. Included in the ranks are Ty Segall, Wooden Shjips (damn that J!), and Thee Oh Sees who they’re currently touring with. Even with Tim’s bandaged hand (the circumstance of some rowdy horseplay, which he sported at their recent gig at Mercury Lounge), the group will still guide you through a psych-revival you won’t soon forget.

Tour Dates
Oct 20   Stork Club (w/ Dan Melchior und Das Menace) – Oakland, CA
Oct 21   Bar Pink Elephant (w/ Thee Oh Sees, and Dan Melchior und Das Menace) – San Diego, CA
Oct 22   The Echo (w/ Thee Oh Sees, and Dan Melchior un Das Menace) – Los Angeles, CA
Oct 23   Fernwood (w/ Beach House, and Ganglians) – Big Sur, CA
Oct 24   The Crepe Place (w/ Dan Melchior und Das Menace) – Santa Cruz, CA
Oct 25   Bottom of the Hill (w/ Thee Oh Sees, Dan Melchior und Das Menace, and Gris Gris) – San Francisco, CA
Nov 16   Elbo Room (w/ Lovvers) – San Francisco, CA

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– Phillip Nguyen


One response to “Artist of the Week: The Fresh and Onlys

  1. Hey great artist recommendation. I’m glad there are other people out there supporting new music.

    ~ C.H.
    Music news, artist reviews, and upcoming songs at the new Decibel Blog.

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