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FRESH & ONLYS

Fresh & Onlys

Wolf Lie Down

    Three long years of anticipation have preceded San Francisco’s psych-blasted, starry-eyed weirdos The Fresh & Onlys’ return with Wolf Lie Down. The opening title track is a searing return to form with chugging full speed rhythms, snotty Wipers wall-of-sound guitar gristle, and the unmistakable midnight croon of singer Tim Cohen.

    Their 6th LP and debut for Sinderlyn Records finds the band equally at home with anthemic garage rock burners like “Impossible Man” and “One Of A Kind,” and the brooding western twang of “Walking Blues” or “Black Widow”. While Cohen and guitarist/producer Wymond Miles are not the new kids on the scene (both are fathers of two now), Wolf Lie Down strips back the layered feel of the last few records to reveal themselves full of passion, imbued with an uplifting romanticism, and their trademark (if often overlooked) wry sense of humor. Recorded mostly at Miles’ home studio, the songs’ foundation came to life in the studios of Bay Area analog garage/ psych veterans Kelley Stoltz (Electric Duck) and Greg Ashley (Creamery).

    Wolf Lie Down builds on the band’s literate guitar-pop arcana, seamlessly incorporating their pastoral desert-noir sensibility into Cohen and Miles’ dueling damaged art-punk songcraft. While the record is driven and performed predominately by the duo of Miles and Cohen, former members Shayde Sartin and Kyle Gibson lay down their classic rhythmic chug on a few tunes. They also enlisted original drummer James Kim, as well as touring companion James Barone (Beach House) on drums and some mixing duties. This new chapter in the elusive world of The Fresh & Onlys is a triumphant return to form as underground jangle titans. Wolf Lie Down also wears the haunted pastoral vividness of their most recent work.

    Perhaps ironically, their latest LP in a vast canon of work may be the best introduction to this unapologetic multi-faceted rock ‘n’ roll band. “Play It Strange is suffused with a deep, widescreen ambience that assumes an almost physical presence. Between its psychedelic flip-outs, winsome hooks, shaky tempos, and Ennio Morricone atmospherics, the album sounds like Nuggets emanating from a vividly hip space station.” SPIN // “Even if Long Slow Dance ... were not loaded with excellent songs, it would be worthy of affection because it is so unabashedly imbued with this lost sense of romanticism.

    “These were carefree times. We were young enough to put our bodies to the test every night on the seven-by-seven-mile patch of the Bay. The endless wars seemed less at home. Songs were hanging off the branches heavy, plump and threatening to rot on the vine if they weren’t polished and put to tape.

    The band was on their third live drummer but the lineup in The Fresh & Onlys’ recording tower was a consistent group of pop soldiers writing, working and whiling away the hours. A beeramid of cheap cans, endless dope smokery and a pretty strong vibe of dudes who would play together into oblivion. 388 rolling, tape spilling over itself, drum kit covered in mufflers, a chest of shitty percussion toys, lots of ideas and multiple secret weapons at their disposal.

    “Shayde Sartin: the beast from out east, the thud of a heavy slow bomb… the best bass player in the Bay. Unaccredited infinite times on records that were made better by his finely crafted skills. I can pick him out on records instantly.

    “Wymond ‘The Count’: you can almost smell his hair on his hooks. If there was a stage monitor in your living room his fence-climber boot would be on it. Wymond always has the riff that made the jets of the song take off. Listen and you’ll see what I mean.

    “Tim Cohen: the man behind the beard. Some would say the leader. In the game as long as Bette Midler. Cohen writes great songs in his sleep, I think. Once referred to by a buddy as ‘like three weirdos in one.’

    “Think of these as basement tapes, a companion to the first Fresh & Onlys Castle Face release (which itself deserves another listen). I remember watching some of these tunes get banged out live in a sweat pit in Oakland. The sound guy so gacked out that there was no sound guy, basically.” - John Dwyer, February 16th, 2015.

    The Fresh & Onlys look exactly like a biker gang composed of record store employees who could stomp your ass while shouting Kobaïan (that language ‘70s French prog band Magma made up) at you, if they felt like it. So, it’s cool if you feel a bit unnerved when first meeting these four shaggy San Franciscans, even if that meeting only occurs via their songs.

    There’s something very bad-ass about their music; it’s entirely assured and brazenly unique. You are free to think of them as part of a vibrant Bay Area scene (because they are) or try to link them to the nu-garage movement of several years ago (which is a stretch). But whichever contextual lens you use, it hardly matters. The band is so comfortable with mixing and matching seemingly disparate genre elements at this point that as a listener, it’s easy feel like a mouse batted about in a corner by a housecat.

    Long Slow Dance is a mature, anthemic and—in subtle ways—pretty weird album. A lot is going on here, but it’s not in your face about it. While not their first time in a “real” studio, it’s instantly clear that their time spent at Phil Manley’s Lucky Cat Studios was the most fun and focused recording environment the group’s been in. The tunes were captured on the same 16-track two-inch reel-to-reel that Warren Zevon recorded “Werewolves of London. They slyly propel the record beyond what you thought it might be about, or was going to be on first listen (perhaps another tasteful and kind of weird rock record which mixes and matches cool stuff from obscure record collections). It is tasteful, of course, and it clearly mixes many things together. But it does this at the service of forceful songs—frequently witty and often lovely songs. That’s the real reason it’s difficult to stop playing this album once you start. And there you have it—the Fresh and Onlys, here to mess with your head and have you say “Thank you.”

    "driving garage rock stomp...vocally loaded with nonchalant cool" – The Fly

    "May this band continue to crank out inventive little nuggets like this long into the future" – Pitchfork

    “…swoonily melodic. I would not complain about a whole album like this.” - “Yes or No” track feature Stereogum

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Darryl says: Top drawer breezy garage indie-pop from this San Franciscan four-piece.


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