July 14, 2010

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Douglas Martin was cut from the lineup of Hullabalooza at the 11th hour and was swiftly replaced by Peter Frampton, who stole his “inflatable pig” idea.

I’m not sure how the The Fresh & Onlys aren’t at least Internet famous. Despite being the most remarkably consistent band in the hyper-prolific San Francisco garage scene (even moreso than Dirty Shoes favorites Thee Oh Sees), despite Tim Cohen’s top-shelf songwriting prowess being backed by a group of freakishly talented rock musicians, despite being hand-picked by Simpsons creator Matt Groening to play All Tomorrow’s Parties earlier in the year, The Fresh & Onlys still can’t get that Girls love. I wish I could say that their recently-released Captured Tracks EP August in My Mind would change things, but I’m sure, regardless of the fact that it’s one of the best non-full-length releases of the year so far, the general pool of indie-rock fans and critics will still sleep on this band like the draft did Rondo.

“Let’s you and I make eyes again up in the sky tonight,” Cohen sings on the first line of opener “Diamond in the Dark”, . Underscored by the squall of always-reliable guitarist Wymond Miles, “Diamond in the Dark” thumps in the beginning before transforming into the textbook definition of a “driving song”, with every member of the band in lock-step with each other until the song eventually sputters out at the end. The first noticeable thing about The Fresh & Onlys’ sound is how emotive Cohen’s vocals are. In “You’re Known to Wander”, he sounds lovelorn, in “Save Your Soul”, the sense of urgency brings out a tangible sense of desperation in his voice. As singular a voice Tim Cohen is, the greatest quality of The Fresh & Onlys is how well they succeed at sounding like one band instead of four musicians.

“Dreaming is Easy” is the closest the band has ever come to writing a punk song, but even at damn-near 140 BPM, they still sound like no other band except The Fresh & Onlys, with jangly guitars, a supple bassline, and ethereal backing vocals working in conjunction with Cohen singing lyrics like “Dreaming is easy when you’re dead.” The EP’s title track sets the bar even higher for the band, where the band plays a ballad reminiscent of a woozy spy movie theme, bolstered by Miles’ alarmingly infectious guitar line. The Fresh & Onlys are truly a group of musicians who are true students of the art of rock-and-roll music, but never rest on their laurels long enough to create something that even parenthetically resembles pastiche. Now, doesn’t that sound like a band that deserves to be famous? Or at least one that deserves to be drawn into a scene on The Simpsons? I’m sure Groening would agree with me.

Download:
MP3: The Fresh & Onlys-“Diamond in the Dark”

From the “Vanishing Point” 7″ on Plastic Spoons Records

MP3: The Fresh & Onlys-“Vanishing Cream”

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