Sound Bites Best of 2010: Favorite Extended Plays

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I've always loved EPs. More than a single, less than an album, the format is designed as the ideal showcase for a band. Or at least a nice stopgap between albums. It was the format of choice for the '90s shoegaze scene which is probably why I have such affection. In my mind the ideal EP should be four songs and no longer than 20 minutes, but I don't follow any hard rules for this. In an age of 28 minute albums it's hard to gauge. Anyway, I've never done a Best EPs list before, but the format has definitely made a big comeback this year, in my opinion, at least in that so many ended up staying in constant rotation. Here are my 15 favorites.

01FandO 1. The Fresh & OnlysAugust on My Mind [Captured Tracks] | BUY
Year two of The Fresh & Onlys was stronger than the first, with the band honing their already sharp songwriting skills and becoming more adept at recording, whether it be in a real studio or on four-track. August in My Mind was probably their best release of a second prolific year.

MP3: The Fresh & Onlys – Garbage Collector 

15spectrals 2. SpectralsA Spectrals Extended Play [Moshi Moshi/Underwater Peoples] | BUY
Kind of a cheat, Extended Play collects the best songs from Spectrals' myriad 7" singles on one platter, which brings Louis Jones' talent into sharp focus. Reverb-drenched, but in a Phil Spector kind of way, Spectrals' sound like old favorites you've never heard before. Bewitching stuff.

MP3: Spectrals – Peppermint

14generationals 3. Generationals Trust [Park the Van] | BUY
Imagine a less cloying Boy Least Likely To or Architecture in Helsinki if they didn't try so hard, and you've got New Orleans Generationals who are young masters of clever, tuneful pop. I think you call it effortless? Like on last year's underrated Con Law, this EP brings four more great songs to the table.

MP3: Generationals – Trust

03EternalSummers 4. Eternal Summers - Eternal Summers EP [Chimney Sweep] | BUY
Not that there's anything wrong with using those words, mind you, er, ha ha? Eternal Summers are more slashy, in line with Veronica Falls and Brilliant Colors. Their debut LP on Kanine is great too, but this 10" is a concentrated dose of what they do best. Also, nice to finally see some quality bands coming from Southwest Virginia, near where I grew up. 

MP3: Eternal Summers – In the Beginning 

04THITH 5. The Hundred in the Hands - This Desert [WARP] |BUY
As Charlie the Tuna once taught us, having good taste doesn't necessarily mean you're going to taste good. But this electronic duo manage to do both, easily my favorite electronic pop act to come along in some time. Catchy, sexy, imminently danceable. Check out their album, too, also from this year.

MP3: The Hundred in the Hands – Building in L.O.V.E.

02tonycastles 6. (The) Tony CastlesNo Service [Famous Class] | BUY
Dreamy keyboard-heavy pop with a dose of funk lite brings to mind Prefab Sprout. Too much music this year banked on warm vibes, but Tony Castles understand That Summer Feeling without having to mention the beach, sun or surfing. 


MP3
: Tony Castles – Black Girls in Dresses

Dominantlegs 7. Dominant Legs – Young at Love and Life [Lefse] | BUY
Unfairly lumped in with the chillwavers, San Francisco’s Dominant Legs (Ryan Lynch who also plays in Girls) sound like a real band as opposed to something someone dreamed up in Garage Band. And you can actually imagine it being played live. (And they do, I’ve seen them.) And while there's definitely an '80s thing going on, it's not Other People's Nostalgia. Songs are as good as the vibe.

MP3: Dominant Legs – Clawing Out the Walls 

Girlsnames 8. Girls NamesYou Should Know By Now [Tough Love] | BUY
Belfast's Girls Names filled the void left by Crystal Stilts relative inactivity this year with their slightly spooky Cherry Red/Creation influenced sound. Good in its own right, mind you as it is on this list, but the resemblance is a bit uncanny. And they've got a single on Slumberland too! This was the better of the two EPs the band released this year, this one is sold out in physical form but can still be got digitally. The Captured Tracks EP is swell too.

MP3: Girls Names – Tear Me Down

Twinsister 9. Twin SisterColor Your Life [Infinite Best] | BUY
A gorgeous, groovy mix of the Cocteau Twins and Sade, Brooklyn band Twin Sister were one of the breakout stars of 2010. And rightly so. You can still download the entirety of this wonderful EP for free from the band's website, but the vinyl is truly lovely. 

MP3: Twin Sister – All Around and Away We Go

Girls 10. Girls Broken Dreams Club [True Panther] | BUY
While I wouldn't call Girls' 2009 debut low fi by any means, there is a clarity of sound on Broken Dreams Club that they haven't tried before, and it suits not only Christopher Owens' fragile voice but the ace performers they've become over the last two years. The songs were always there. As a  "LETTER OF INTENT," we can only relisten to this till the next record.

MP3: Girls – Heartbreaker

Jamesblake 11. James BlakeCMYK [R&S] | BUY
I don't listen to a ton of dubstep/grime or anything else like this but there is something to James Blake's music that sets it immediately apart and commands your attention. It's like listening to someone tune between radio stations and making it work as music on its own. Of the many records Blake released this year, CMYK was the most mesmerizing.

MP3: James Blake – CMYK

Alexkemp 12. Alex KempRat D'Hotel – Pt. 1 – Rat Walks Into a Bar [Alex Kemp/TuneCore]
Former Small Factory/Godrays singer appears after a decade or so with two EPs of bright, shiny, danceable pop more akin to his old pals Papas Fritas. New direction, but same solid songwriting that made Small Factory's early singles so winning. So good to hear Kemp's charmingly craggy voice again. You can download this EP for free from Kemp's website (click on the brown paper bag).

MP3: Alex Kemp – I'm on Your Side

Suuns 13. SuunsZeroes [Secretly Canadian] | BUY
Formerly known as Zeroes, Suuns (pronounced "Sooons") are one of Montreal's most interesting new bands, as can be heard on this EP. I have a feeling they know exactly what Mark E. Smith means by "repetition repetition repetition" given the solid Krautrock-y grooves. This EP has since been expanded to a full album, but I'm not sure it needed the extra tracks. A perfect blast.

MP3: Suuns – Arena

Cloudnothings 14. Cloud Nothings Leave You Forever [True Panther] | BUY
Cleveland's Cloud Nothings are first and foremost hookmasters in the long powerpop tradition. Live they are crunchier, louder (a skinny beast of a drummer adds massive whallop) but on record they can come off more like that time where American "college rock" morphed into indie rock. The band put out a handful of records this year, this four-song 7" is maybe the best. Certainly the best cover art.

MP3: Cloud Nothings – Weird Son

Ace 15. A Classic EducationHey There Stranger [Lefse] | BUY
Can you embrace baroque, anthemic and reverby garage all at the same time? Yes, says A Classic Education who are from Bologna, Italy (via Canada). More reverb than garage, mind you, with a'60s cosmopolitan sweep as well. In a word, lovely.

MP3: A Classic Education – Gone to Sea

The Fresh and Onlys | Monster Island + Cake Shop | 5.14 + 5.15.2010

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It's a fact: The Fresh & Onlys are the best. Certainly in the low-fi realm, they write better songs, have better musicianship, and are just working on a different plane than most of the bands they're associated with. This weekend they crushed both NYC shows they played. 

I feel now the only thing holding them back is the production of their recordings. Don't get me wrong — I've loved nearly everything they've released so far. All seven zillion 7"s, EPs and albums. But hearing them live, the full sonic force they bring, I want to hear that on record too. I'm not saying go get Bob Rock and protools their songs into digital oblivion, but some nice microphones and a real studio could do wonders for them. Which is just what we might get with their next album, Play it Strange, which will be out on In the Red later this year.

At this point I would like to point out the total awesomeness of guitarist Wymond Miles, maybe the most crimilaly overlooked guitarist in the indie rock world right now. While Tim Cohen's songwriting drives the band, and the rhythm section of Shayde Sartin and Gibson provides the solid spine, it's Wymond's almost shoegazy sonics (he's got like 20 pedals) that give the songs such amazing texture and take them to a new, different place. Again, they're more than the sum of the parts. They've got it all.

It should also be said that despite the bands they tend to play with and the labels who put out their records, The Fresh & Only are not garage rock. Psych, yes. But they've got more in common with Love, Echo & the Bunnymen or The Bees than Thee Oh Sees or Ty Segall (both of whom I love). No doubt they are deeply a part of the SF underground scene, but If people stopped referring to them as garage rock, I think they'd get more attention. They certainly deserve it.

But I digress. The two shows this weekend had similar setlists, cherry-picking most of the killer cuts from all their major releases with emphasis on the new August in My Mind Ep which is maybe the single best record they've released yet. I do wish we'd gotten "Garbage Collector" from it, as well as the its title track. Apparently Kyle doesn't like former and won't play it. Kyle, wise up, it's awesome:

MP3: The Fresh & Onlys - Garbage Collector (buy it)

 The Fresh & Onlys will be back next month to play the Northside Festival as part of the Woodsist night at Music Hall of Williamsburg on 6/25. Hopefully they'll squeeze in another local gig while here. 

After the jump there's some great video from the Monster Island show courtesy Bleary Eyed Brooklyn, as well as some not as beautiful video from Cake Shop that was shot by your truly.

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New Fresh & Onlys: Invisible Forces + Tour Dates + Tim Cohen solo LP

Fando The Fresh & Onlys debut LP came out in March on Castle Face records, and we've also had two 7" singles as well, but get ready for album #2, Grey Eyed Girls, which comes out September 15th on Woodsist. If you read this blog's sporadic posts, you'll know I'm a huge fan. The first track from Grey Eyed Girls has just been released and it happens to be my favorite song from their Woodsist/Captured Tracks performance a few weeks ago, "Invisible Forces." It's all minor-chord progression is spooky-gothy like it's title implies, and it's of a slightly higher fidelity than anything they've released so far. Check it out, it's awesome:

MP3: The Fresh & Onlys – "Invisible Forces"

What's most amazing to me, is that despite the deluge of records, so far it's all good. And don't expect it to stop anytime soon. There's also Bomb Wounds, a cassette-only release out on the Woodsist sister label, Fuckit Tapes which is exceedingly lo fi, but also good:

MP3: The Fresh & Onlys – Second One to Know

Wait there's more. Lots more. Look for singles on HoZac and Captured Tracks before year's end, and a third album — this one in a proper studio — out early 2010 on In the Red.

Their stuff isn't the easiest to find, but you can always buy directly from their website. 


What, you still need more? Singer Tim Cohen (who used to be in Black Fiction) has just released a solo album, Two Sides of Tim Cohen, which has 17 more songs showing more a folk/Harry Nilsson influence than those songs which become F&Os tracks. It's good too.

MP3 Tim Cohen – Take Aim Goliath (
buy)

The Fresh & Onlys are gearing up for a big fall tour, part opening for Steven Malkmus, then joinging Thee Oh Sees, and later The Box Elders. Don't miss them they're great live. All F&Os tour dates, plus video of "Invisible Forces" live at Woodsist Fest in Brooklyn, after the jump.

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Independents’ Day: Woodsist / Captured Tracks Festival | 7.04.2009

Dum Dum Girls
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The Fresh & Onlys
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Ganglians
Ganglians

Woods
Woods

Some people spent their Fourth of July watching fireworks. Others barbequed with friends. One guy spent his eating 68 hot dogs in ten minutes. Me? I hang out in an empty lot underneath the JMZ line in Bushwick Brooklyn watching a whole bunch of awesome bands on the Captured Tracks and Woodsist labels. I skipped out on the first night of the Fest after, due to threat of rain, it got moved from the empty lot to adjacent Market Hotel which by all accounts was like being in a bbq smoker. (I ended up at the Seaport instead watching Here We Go Magic and Bachelorette.) Saturday, however, couldn’t be more idyllic — upper ’70s, mostly sunny and no humidity. Despite some technical and sound issues throughout the day,  vibes stay positive throughout.

I go with my friends Don and Kelly and their 5-year-old daughter Diaz, who wears pink sound-blocking earmuffs the whole day and thinks there aren’t enough girls in the bands. I also try to get her to be an on-camera reporter, reviewing the show via fed lines like “I’d rather have German Measles than watch German Measles again.” But she’s not having it.

German Measles aren’t actually that bad, I just thought it would be a funny line. But they’re also not very good. And that kind of seems to be the point. Shambolic is an understatement, like “why rehearse when we can just play shows?” They played a couple night before, opening for Thee Oh Sees at Glasslands and Don asked me if the songs were all improvised on the spot. No, they’ve got some songs and if you see them more than once you might remember some of them, like “Patty Girl” which they almost play with something approaching competence. Or maybe they’re just totally wasted. The singer sure was, having finished a bottle of red wine while his bandmates set up and moving on to Budweiser by the time they first note is played.

Real Estate probably sound the best of any of the bands that day, their dreamy Greatful Dead meets New Zealand good vibe noodling that is not all that far from the Meat Puppets at times too. They play through PA problems like it doesn’t matter, and you know… it doesn’t. They’re good. When they stick to the a-sides, it is sunny day perfection. When they start jamming, they lose me. It’s a festival, you’ve got 25 minutes, please stick to the hits.

The Beets have bass amp problems so the other two dick around with Beatles covers till equipment is switched out. “Thankyouverymuch,” mumbles guitarist Juan Wauters which is the only banter you ever get from The Beets, before he kicks his amp again to unleash a squal of reverb. The Beets don’t sound that loud on their records, but they can be deafening live, with the kind of feedback not heard since the early days of the Jesus and Mary Chain. Thier songs don’t so much end as stop, but they’ve got some really good tunes, rooted in ’60s party rock, making them perfect for an outdoor show like this. Do they still make Sun Country wine coolers?

I get burgers and check out the merch table while The Great Excape play. It is some kind of reunion but I don’t remember them so I didn’t pay much attention. Ganglians are up next, one of many California bands in town for the fest. They’ve got two good new records out: An mini-LP which rocks, and an LP of lovely Brian Wilson-influenced acoustic psychedelia. We get strictly the former today, which is too bad as “Lost Words” or “Candy Girl” would sound great here, though I guess when the M train rattles by every ten minutes (with confused conductors craning their necks to see what the hell is going on down below) you gotta battle that with full-electric mayhem. Their guitarist, who kind of looks like he’s 14, does some amazing things on his instrument and is like, totally into it, man. He’s a lot of fun to watch. But I prefer the poppy stuff over more drony material like “Never Mine” which there is video of below. I imagine seeing them indoors is a different experience.

As all-girl, C-’86-influenced trios go, San Francisco’s Brilliant Colors might just be the best of the bunch, writing songs that rival Vivian Girls’ catchiest, and keeping it tight like Sweden’s Liechtenstein with more attitude than either. (Check out “I’m Sixteen” for serious snarl.) They might lack a little in stage presence but playing in the heat of the sun can drain even the most charming performers.  But these ladies are quality, one of the day’s best. Am really hoping another NYC show will materialize before they go back.

Budweiser is delicious when drunk fast and often. Even when it is lukewarm, like it is today. Just putting things in perspective.

Next up, the band I am most excited to see today: The Fresh & Onlys. They wowed me at the Woodsist/Todd P party during SXSW and have since becoming a superfan. Singer Tim Cohen broke his wrist a couple weeks ago punching bassist Shayde Sartin in a particularly drunken and violent bit of horseplay, so here he’s playing keyboards instead of guitar. Not tied to his instrument, he now makes a lot of operatic gestures with his arms, leaving the guitar heroics to slickly-dressed Wymond Miles who pulls out all the rock moves. I am biased, but they sound pretty amazing, rivaling Real Estate for best sonics of the night. I think they won for stage presence too (the only band of the day to attempt audience participation), though if I’d stayed for Thee Oh Sees I might be saying second-best. (Oh Sees were phenomenal at Glasslands two nights previous.) F&Os have three records out now, and like seven more things coming out this year on nearly as many labels. To date it’s all been home recordings which gives things a vintage feel, but live they sound more in the now and less like a group in love with 1966. “Invisible Forces,” which is on their upcoming Woodsist LP Grey Eyed Girls, is a minor chord stunner.

Following  their performance I finally meet Shayde face-to-face — he participated in an email-interview for this blog you may remember. “You’re Bill Pearis? I pictured you as a fat, bearded 50-year-old dude.” Um, thanks. I buy a cassette-only release of theirs, Bomb Wombs, and then remember I don’t own a cassette player anymore. I’ll figure something out.

I spy Crocodiles’ singer Brandon Welchez with his guitar at the grocery store around the cornerand think maybe they’re going to play in the “???” slot on the schedule scrawled on a piece of cardboard that’s tied to the stage. But then I remember that he’s got ties to Dum Dum Girls‘ Dee Dee (tied the knot in fact, it turn out) so it’s no real surprise to see him playing guitar in DDGs’ first ever show. The band also includes Captured Tracks head honcho Mike Sniper on bass and Frankie Rose of Crystal Stilts on drums. Dee Dee, is decked out in a a black dress with fringe, and black tights, which would’ve probably looked more appropriate in a dark club with smoke machines and strobes. Here, it seemed a bit silly but damn if the four of them don’t look like a real band, not some pick-up match. Black and denim, the shades, they are classic cool. And they sound like a band too, and a good one too. Dum Dum Girls got it together. Shirley from NY Noise uses the term “twee goth” and that’s pretty much right on the money. Or maybe a little like Siouxsie fronting Tones on Tails, whose hit “Go!” comes to mind during DDGs’ final number. It seems a shame this may be the only show these four play together.

Woods suffer the same problem that Real Estate do: they are quick to delve into the extended jam, though their version is a little more Crazy Horse and less blissed-out stoner noodles. But like Real Estate, when Woods stick to the songs, like the great “To Clean,” it’s absolutely lovely. (Their album Songs of Shame comes highly recommended by me.) As singer Jeremy Earl runs Woodsist, he can do whatever he wants. It’s his festival. (Well, half his.) But that doesn’t mean I gotta pay close attention.

I have seen Woods now upwards of seven times and I still can’t figure out what the one guy in the band does. He’s always off to the side, fiddling with some piece of homemade equipment involving cassette tapes, and sings through an old pair of headphones that are put on sideways. Using phones as a mic, I guess, gives a tinny, “old timey” sound to the vocals but it also kind of looks like he’s wearing a ball gag that is tethered to the floor. Every time I see them I think of the gimp in Pulp Fiction. Maybe this is the look they’re going for but I doubt it. Still, some lovely songs.

The sun is now setting and I am losing steam. (So is my camera battery and the flash card is full.) As Kurt Vile takes the stage, I take my leave, also missing Vivian Girls and Thee Oh Sees (who I already saw this week). I’m gonna need a nap if I’m gonna make it to the afterparty.

Also there: Stereogum, PopJew, StarkOnline, The Pop Filter , The Village Voice and, of course,  John Norris.

My Canon Powershot has turned out to be a much better video camera than a regular one. I shot every band of I saw, but ended up deleting German Measels for space reasons only. Video and a couple more pictures after the ol’ jump.

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Hooray for America: Woodsist/Captured Tracks Fest is July 3 and 4

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No need to feel like a second class NY-er for not going out of town for Independence Day this year. If you're around, might I suggest the Woodsist/Captured Tracks Festival? Two of the city's best vinyl-centric labels (with help from Todd P) are bringing together some of the best garage/lo-fi/psychedelic bands in the country, playing over the course of two days.

A combined two-day ticket is $25 and on sale now via PayPal. But if you had to choose one day ($15) I think you'd have to go with July 4, what with Ganglians, Woods, Beets, Real Estate, Thee Oh Sees, Dum Dum Girls, Brilliant Colors and the NYC debut of San Francisco's amazing Fresh & Onlys. All the fireworks you'll need are right here.

Here's how it breaks down, with MP3s for most of the bands:

Friday July 3rd @ 979 BROADWAY BACKYARD

:: WOODSIST / CAPTURED TRACKS FESTIVAL

9:45pm : CRYSTAL STILTS (MP3: Love is a Wave)
9:00pm :: Blank Dogs (MP3: Setting Fire to Your House)
8:15pm ::: Psychedelic Horseshit (MP3: New Wave Hippies)
7:30pm :::: caUSE co-MOTION! (MP3: You Lose)
6:45pm ::::: the Mayfair Set (MP3: Desert Fun)
6:15pm :::::: Gary War (MP3: Bounce Four)
5:45pm ::::::: Little Girls (MP3: What We Did)
5:15pm :::::::: Kid Romance
4:45pm ::::::::: Beachniks (MP3: Coney Island)
4:15pm :::::::::: the Gutsies (MP3: Surfer Body)

Saturday July 4th @ 979 BROADWAY BACKYARD

:: WOODSIST / CAPTURED TRACKS FESTIVAL

9:45pm : THEE OH SEES (MP3: Meat Step Lively)
9:00pm :: VIVIAN GIRLS (MP3: Lake House)
8:15pm ::: Kurt Vile (MP3: Freeway)
7:30pm :::: Woods (MP3: To Clean)
6:45pm ::::: Tyvek (MP3: Hey Una)
6:00pm :::::: Dum Dum Girls (MP3: Ship of Love)
5:15pm ::::::: the Fresh & Onlys (MP3: Love and Kindness)
4:30pm :::::::: Brilliant Colors (MP3: Should I Tell You)
3:45pm ::::::::: Ganglians (MP3: Hair)
3:15pm :::::::::: the Great Excape —— reunion, pre-Home Blitz
2:45pm ::::::::::: the Beets (MP3: Devil)
2:15pm :::::::::::: Real Estate (MP3: Fake Blues)
1:45pm ::::::::::::: German Measles (MP3: Patty Girl)
1:15pm :::::::::::::: Beach Fossils (MP3: Vacation)

| 979 BROADWAY BACKYARD |

979 Broadway btwn Myrtle Ave & Ditmars St | Bushwick, Brooklyn

JMZ-Myrtle, L-Jefferson, G-Myrtle-Willoughby | 

RAIN OR SHINE 

Sound Bites Interview: The Fresh & Onlys

That's Shayde there on bass.

The San Francisco area has no shortage of amazing garage/psych/pop bands.
The Fresh & Onlys are one of the latest, having only been together for about a year but have quickly become ones to watch with an onslaught of releases on a variety of labels like Chuffed (Kelley Stoltz's new label), John Dwyer's Castle Face, and Seattle's Dirty Knobby, as well as upcoming platters on HoZac and Woodsist. (They stay busy.) Founders Tim Cohen and Shayde Sartin are no strangers to bands, though, having spent time in Black Fiction and the Skygreen Leopards, respectively… among many others. I caught The Fresh & Onlys at SXSW (where I took these pictures) and have become one of my favorite new groups of 2009. Sartin, the band's bassist who knows his music and food, was kind enough to answer a bunch of questions.

So the basics: How did The Fresh & Onlys come about?

We started recording in March or April of last year. Tim and I have been pretty tight for about six years. We bought a tape machine about four years ago with the intention of starting a band. Kelley Stoltz suggested we get a Tascam 388 because they're so easy to use and he'd be able to lend some guidance. I became really busy with other projects but Tim became really familiar with the machine in that time. About a year ago, after doing things that were never totally fulfilling, Tim gave me a couple of new tunes he'd been working on and they were amazing. Stuff that I could totally get inside of. I think he'd been listening to a lot of 13th Floor Elevators. I listened to those songs over and over again. "The Mind is Happy" was sort of the Big Bang of The Fresh & Onlys. It was on that tape. I immediately dropped every other project I was in for the most part and went over to his studio and that was the day we tracked "Come Dance With Me" from the Chuffed single. It was such an adrenalin boost!

MP3: The Fresh & Onlys – Fog Machine

Shayde on bass, with help from plastic bag What with Thee Oh Sees, Ty Segall and Sic Alps, to name three, San Francisco is currently a hotbed of great garage-y/psych pop bands. Why do you think that is? And where do Fresh & Onlys fit in…and what sets you apart?

I would like to think we all inspire and influence each other. Mike Donovan of Sic Alps was one of the first people I played our music for. Him and E. Xavier of Teenage Panzerkorps. I feel like it's unavoidable to not share ideas and methods if you're in a city like this. The music and art community here is very warm. We have our curmudgeons, but who doesn't?

As far as what sets us apart, it's always hard to say but I do believe Tim's strange approach to singing is one of the more immediate things sonically. To me it's very open and honest. He's somewhere between Father Yod, Michael Yonkers and Calvin Johnson! It's also very contradictory to his personality. But most of all I believe it's our melodies. We are most concerned with melody. That's not to say that Ty, Sic Alps or Thee Ohsees don't have incredibly infectious melodies. I just think ours are their own little species. To me there is such a thing as a Fresh & Onlys song. The same way there is a Ty Segall song or an Ohsees song.  

In my opinion, San Francisco is flush with awesome bands. And people come out to shows here. Being able to see The Nodzzz, Brilliant Colors and Hospitals in one night is pretty mind-blowing to me! Not to mention bands that shuffle under the radar like Grass Widow or The Sandwitches. There's always that one chance a year you get to see The Husbands. Hank IV is always good for beating your brains out. Personal and the Pizzas will melt your face like shredded mozzarella! Mayyors! So many… 

The cool thing here also is that we have Oakland right over the bridge. And they run deep as well. Shannon and the Clams, Photobooth, Bare Wires or any of Tina Lucchesi's projects. I could go on and on really.

Fresh & Onlys debut on Castle Face You guys have a lot of records out and more to come. Can you give a rundown?

The Castle Face LP was officially released on April 6th 2009. The first pressing is gone but the second pressing is already available through Amoeba Music, Aquarius Records and I believe Academy Annex in Brooklyn. (And via Insound.) It will also be available through our website fairly soon.

The Chuffed EP Imaginary Friends is available again. This time on pink vinyl. You can email chuffed for a copy.

The Dirty Knobby 7", "I'll Tell You Everything" is sold-out from Dirty Knobby but is available through Revolver and will soon be available directly through us. (Ed: Academy Annex in Brooklyn had it as of 4/22.) 

Chuffed 7" The Medicine Island Cassette on our own No-Foot Boogie Tapes is all gone except for the few copies we have for live shows. 

Our LP for Woodsist is titled Grey-Eyed Girls and is currently being pressed. It's due for release in the early Fall. The album differs quite a bit from the one on Castle Face in that it's a much moodier record with more of a focus on concise pop songs. It's 12 songs in 32 minutes. We had also become a bit more familiar with the way we work and had a system more in place for writing, recording and mixing. There's still a lot of the same muscularity but there's definitely more indulgence in our melodies.

We're also currently working on a single for HoZacWe write and record every day pretty much.

MP3: The Fresh & Onlys – Love and Kindness

action shot! So did you just record a whole mess of songs and then figure out “these songs would make one good album, and these would make another” or was it more “let’s record these songs for the Castle Face album, and let’s do these songs for the Woodsist one.”?

There's a pretty natural way for songs to find their herd. You want to make an album dynamic but you don't want to put a black sheep in there. At least that's our logic. It's pretty organic. We go through phases that are either informed by what we're listening to or some piece of gear breaks and we have adapt. We spill beer on our machine so we have to use a 4 track. The point is to keep moving. Dylan once said that songs just pass through the air. You just have to be there when they come. We don't sit down and labor over how to make the song better or make it weird. We let it take it's own shape given any number of circumstances. 

Tim seems to have an endless amount of melodies inside of him. I can show up with the simplest chord progression with a tiny hook in it and Tim is able to take it somewhere completely foreign to me. Sometimes I'll hear what he's done with a track and be completely appalled. Then two days later it'll sink in and I'll be completely blown away. Making music is based on trust. You have to trust that what someone is trying to express is true and beautiful. Expression is everything in music. Even if you're John Cooper Clarke or Johnny Clarke.

You and Tim both work at Amoeba Records, and know your stuff. Does that help or hinder the creative/songwriting process? Do you find yourself thinking “this sounds just like __________”? Or is borrowing ok?

We never shy away from anything that's the product of osmosis. We invite it. I even search for it when we finish songs. It's one of the more beautiful things about pop music. Everything has been done! There's so much freedom in that. To hear The Plugz and Country Joe and the Fish sharing rhythms and melodies inside of a song is a truly awesome thing. Especially when it was never intentional. I live for those moments when you just want to crawl inside of the speaker.

Do still both work at Amoeba? If so, are you worried between the job and the band, it’s too much time together?

One would think. Tim and I have that rare gift of being able to fight with each other but move on pretty quickly. We recognize eachother's frustrations and know when to drop an issue. We are also pretty opposite types of people. To say the least. 

The Fresh & Onlys backing Rodriguez for a West Coast tour. How did that come about and maybe you could tell a little about him for those of us who are less informed.

Rodriguez Rodriguez's story is extremely fascinating. He basically recorded two very beautiful records in the late '60s/early 70s. The first being Cold Fact which bridges psychedelia and soul in such a subtle, beautiful way. Pretty much the opposite of Funkadelic. It's not "in your face" at all. I get the feeling his performances back then really put a wall between him and his succes
s. If you listen to Cold Fact, there's at least four tunes that could have been solid radio hits but the entire album is a masterpiece. And I don't throw that word around lightly. 

MP3: Rodriguez – Sugarman (buy it)

As to how we came to play with him, this guy Britt Govea who puts on shows on the west coast saw us in Big Sur. We played a festival there. He was helping Matt from Light In the Attic, the label that re-issued Rodriguez's catalog, book a tour for Rodriguez last year and thought we'd be a good fit. We were pretty stoked. The record was a real challenge but incredibly fun. It's Dennis Coffey and the Funk Brothers on the record! Being a bass player I was really sweatin' but it came together really well. Rodriguez is incredibly cool and really just wants the band to be having fun playing his songs. It was the best compliment we could receive having him ask us back for a tour.

Obviously, The Fresh & Onlys have a lot on their plate but is there anything else we should know about? Tour? Any plans to hit the East Coast?

We plan to keep recording! Yeah, we want to tour as much as possible. Do as much as we can until the fire dies down. That seems pretty far for us now. We still have songs coming. Our new drummer, Kyle Gibson, really helped complete the core. After the Woodsist LP comes out we want to do a full US tour. It should be out in August or September. Maybe tour in October. I look forward to being in NY with everybody.

Bass malfunction! When I saw you play at SXSW you had a strap malfunction and you played a lot of the set on the ground. You’ve fixed it since I hope.

That is really weird! I had a dream last night that we were playing the show that we're playing tonight and the tape unraveled and my bass fell and broke. But… No. I have yet to fix it. 

And now the food portion of our interview. Did any food in particular fuel the making of the album (s)?

Spaghetti sandwiches. Tim's specialty. 

Who’s the best cook in the band?

That would be me for sure. Sorry guys. You know it's true. 

Who’s the most finicky eater?

Wymond would want me to say that he is just so his wife doesn't know how much garbage he eats on the road. Sorry dude.  

What’s your favorite restaurant in San Francisco? Where do you eat most often?

San Francisco is full of great Mexican food. My favorite little spot that I sort of keep to myself is a family style Mexican place on 24th and Mission called El Trebol. It's the best fried chicken in San Francisco. They serve it with this amazing warm salsa and melted onions with homemade black beans.  It's been there for about thirty years. You order from the wife and the husband cooks the food. 

Do you eat before a show?

Always try to. I tend to drink a six pack on stage so by the time I get off, if I have an empty stomach, there's hell to pay.

Any food you strongly dislike?

Absolutely not. 

What’s the best hangover meal?

Really depends on what you been drinking. The standard greasy spoon thing never really flies with me. I go for a mango and poached eggs with a side of rye toast and a beer. Works every time.

F&O3

The Fresh & Onlys – "Fog Machine" live at Ms Beas, Austin TX 4.21.2009