The Fresh and Onlys
“We make albums to be heard as albums,” says Tim Cohen. “We always toil over the sequencing and slight pauses.” House of Spirits, The Fresh & Onlys’ fifth album since 2008, testifies to their rigorous full-length approach. Their most adventurous outing yet, House of Spirits devotes its A-side to the character of dreams. Written partly during his stay at an isolated horse ranch in Arizona with only a guitar, Korg keyboard and drum machine, Cohen focused the album’s lyrics on firmer narratives than on past material, but his imagery veers towards absurdity, reflecting the unreliable visions culled from his nightly subconscious activity. The album’s latter half finds his speaker awoken, resolute and lucid. All throughout, Cohen says the album grapples with the “idea that home is where your feet are.” While still possessing the impeccable pop faculties displayed on Long Slow Dance and Soothsayer, The Fresh & Onlys also deal experimental atmospherics and drum-machine anchored ballads like never heard from the group before.
“The things I remember from dreams are when something is slightly off. You’re in your house but realize suddenly that it’s not yours,” says Cohen. In that sense, album opener “Home is Where?” is a statement of the album’s intent. When Cohen’s speaker notices a “bowl full of eyes on the floor,” or “cauldron of hearts on the stove” during his comforting walk through “the good life,” the brisk but nuanced track morphs into a surrealist nightmare.
Originally formed by Cohen, bassist Shayde Sartin and guitarist Wymond Miles, who met through their mutual employer Amoeba Music, The Fresh & Onlys soon recruited drummer Kyle Gibson. Their self-titled debut appeared in 2008 at the fulcrum of a flourishing San Francisco music scene on Thee Oh Sees’ leader John Dwyer’s then-fledgling Castle Face imprint. The debut distinguished The Fresh & Onlys from their peers in the lauded “San Francisco garage scene,” the regional buzz tag that couldn’t have been more inadequate for the band.
With tunefulness equally indebted to pastoral psychedelia, punchy new wave and hyper-literate proponents of lofty 80s pop, The Fresh & Onlys swiftly moved through the ranks of venerable indie rock labels. Follow-up albums and a voluble slew of EPs on Woodsist, In The Red and Captured Tracks earned the group high critical praise, including a flattering New York Times feature, while Cohen’s output with his folk-inclined act Magic Trick and Miles’ own solo career rode impressive trajectories of their own.
In 2012, The Fresh & Onlys’ fourth album, Long Slow Dance, appeared on Mexican Summer. A meditation on the complexities of love with Cohen’s signature insertion of severe imagery into poignant song craft, it also solidified The Fresh & Onlys’ adoption of lush analog production. They continued to work with Phil Manley (Trans Am) at Lucky Cat Studios in San Francisco for the Soothsayer 12” EP, which showcased Miles’ Morricone-esque handle on atmosphere, hazy chords ringing out with shimmering, ghostly notes in their wake.
As Miles says of House of Spirits, “We wanted to honor the mystery that the desert gave to Tim’s songs.” The seasoned ensemble’s fiery feel and careful arrangements run throughout, but it also privileges The Fresh & Onlys’ experimental tendencies. There’s violent, churning guitar noise between gospel-like vocal interplay for “Bells of Paonia” and an ominous drum machine pulse underpins the unsettling finale, “Madness,” a track that inspired Miles to throttle his guitar with a power drill in the studio for what he calls “a sort of Einstürzende Neubauten moment.” As Cohen relishes mystery, camps out in dreams and hones his singular approach to glistening pop with sinister undertones, perhaps “Madness” speaks best to the Fresh & Onlys’ essence. As Cohen puts it in the track, “So, madness has a heart / Letting me rejoice / In the most peculiar things.”
The Swayback's sound is a mix of blues swagger and early punk bite that's cut with art-school gloom and some Manchester dreaming. Their revved-up live performances have led them to share the stage with such diverse bands as: Gang of Four, Girls, The Raveonettes, Dead Meadow, Dum Dum Girls, Portugal. The Man, Akron/Family, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Swervedriver, Hold Steady, Cage The Elephant, and Place to Bury Strangers.
Formed in 2005 in St. Louis, MO, Troubadour Dali creates lush vocal harmonies paired with hypnotic grooves and jangly fuzz space guitar hooks. Let’s Make It Right shows exciting growth from Troubadour Dali’s 2009 self-titled album, which was mixed by producer Bill Racine (Rogue Wave, Mates of State).
Singer, Ben Hinn elaborates, “For Let’s Make It Right, we initially planned on recording only a couple of songs for a single release. We ended up tracking an album’s worth of material between Sawhorse Studios, with Jason McEntire, and our home studios. Most of the drums, bass, and guitars were recorded live at Sawhorse, with additional overdubs and vocals tracked there, at our apartments, fallout shelters, and other top-secret locations throughout Saint Louis. After our first record, everyone in the band delved further into recording, which has considerably helped with the song writing process of the band, and allows us to better share what we hear in our heads before going into the studio. The result has been more focused and productive sessions.”
Nominated the last three years in a row by the St. Louis Riverfront Times for the best indie band, Troubadour Dali won the award in 2010.
Troubadour Dali has shared the stage with Warpaint, A Place to Bury Strangers, Darker My Love, The Entrance Band, Sleepy Sun, The Whigs and the Strange Boys to name a few. The band will play the 2nd annual LouFest in St. Louis Forest Park on Saturday, August 27, 2011 with The Roots, TV on the Radio, Cat Power, Deerhunter, Surfer Blood, The Hold Steady, Sleepy Sun, Ume and more.
Believe it or not, Indie rock's best kept secret is the small close knit community of bands and artists from Oklahoma. In the wake of bands like The Flaming Lips, Starlight Mints, and Other Lives, ADMIRALS is emerging as one of the premiere bands in this region of the country. Hailing from Stillwater Oklahoma, Colton Tucker (Guitar/Vocals) Andrew Bair (Keyboards/Piano/Guitar) Cory Brewer (Drums) and Brett Murphy (Bass) make music that has been described as "What is missing from modern rock music (Aaron Legrands-Producer Nashville). Drawing comparisons from Radiohead, The Verve, and Dallas favorite Black Tie Dynasty, ADMIRALS recorded their debut self titled EP with Grammy award winning producer Trent Bell (Flaming Lips, Chainsaw Kittens, Starlight Mints, Chemical Brothers) The album brings elements of new wave, folk, blues and jazz, industrial, as well as roots and classic influences in to their repertoire.
In February of 2012, ADMIRALS signed to Idol Records (Old 97's, Sponge, Flickerstick) and re-released the self titled EP and completed a successful US tour to support the release. The band is currently back in the studio with Trent Bell working on their first full length release which promises to focus more on extensive instrumentation, sampling, and unique production values alike. The record is set to hit stores in February of 2013.
With melodic guitar and keyboard lines paired with sweeping synths and driving drums and bass, Admirals creates an ethereal performance both sonically and visually in a live setting. Put together, the groups sound has even been described as "Space Rock and Sex-Wave" (oskizzy.com). With fan-base and national support growing so rapidly, the future for Admirals looks anything but dim.