The Fresh & Onlys prep new LP for Woodsist, tour with Stephen Malkmus, The Oh Sees and more

The Fresh and Onlys photographed by Brian Pritchard

MP3: The Fresh and Onlys – “Invisible Forces”

When Tim Cohen told Shayde Sartin he was writing a song called “Be My Hooker,” the Fresh & Onlys bassist looked at the singer/guitarist and said… “‘There’s no way we’re gonna have a song with that title, dude,'” explains Sartin. “But sure enough, he laid a riff down and I was like, ‘Jesus Christ, I can’t believe you pulled something meaningful out of such a stupid line.'”

Welcome to the push/pull dynamic that’s fueled the Fresh & Onlys’ steady stream of releases over the past year, including last spring’s self-titled LP (Castle Face) and this fall’s Grey-Eyed Girls (Woodsist). And to think it all started the old-fashioned way-with Sartin and Cohen simply hanging out after work, playing their favorite punk (Buzzcocks, The Mekons) and classic rock (Country Joe and the Fish, cued up alongside slabs of psych from the group’s homebase, San Francisco) records alongside a growing collection of empty beer cans.

“I can’t really explain what happened or why,” says Sartin. “I guess we listened to records until we were on the same page, and from that point on, we never stopped recording.” As simple as all of that sounds, the duo first bought a tape machine five years ago. When that failed to produce any concrete cuts, Cohen focused on his previous avant-pop band, Black Fiction, and Sartin split his time between session and live work for such bands as the Skygreen Leopards, Papercuts and Citay. Not to mention his close friend Kelley Stoltz, who ended up releasing the first Fresh & Onlys 7″ (the limited Imaginary Friends EP) in early 2008.

With so much music hitting shops in such a short time (Sartin says the band already has boxes of backlogged tapes), you might think the Fresh & Onlys camp have a problem with quality control. Quite the contrary; Sartin and Cohen are very careful about what they release. And while the duo writes and records the band’s songs, the arrangements are usually fleshed out with guitarist Wymond Miles, drummer Kyle Gibson, and backup singer Heidi Alexander. “If we take a song into the studio or a live setting and it doesn’t have wings,” says Sartin, “Then we just ditch it and keep the charming demo version.” The final mix of Grey-Eyed Girls sounds like a natural bridge between the raucous garage rock of the group’s debut and the full-on studio record they plan on wrapping for In the Red later this year. That goes for the galloping grooves of “Happy To Be Living,” the shadowy post-punk of “Invisible Forces,” and the firework finale freak-outs that drive “The Delusion of Man.” Not to mention a stack of hook-slinging tracks that nix any ‘shitgaze’ assumptions you may have. “We’re not trying to hide melodies or do the blown-out thing,” says Sartin. “A lot of those bands are great, but I don’t want to ever cater to what’s popular. It’s not that I’m being reactionary; we’re just trying to make recordings that are as rich and ear-friendly as possible.”

It’s working.

THE FRESH & ONLYS

Thu 7/23/09 Harlow’s Sacramento CA *
Sat 7/25/09 Echoplex Los Angeles CA *
Sun 7/26/09 Belly Up Tavern Solano Beach CA *
Tue 7/28/09 Rio Theater Santa Cruz CA *
Mon 9/21/09 House Show Provo UT #
Tue 9/22/09 Larimer Lounge Denver CO #
Wed 9/23/09 Jack Pot Saloon Lawrence KS #
Thu 9/24/09 Goner Fest Memphis TN #
Sat 9/26/09 Uncle Fester’s Bloomington IL #
Sun 9/27/09 Schubas Tavern Chicago IL #
Tue 9/29/09 Brass Rail Ft Wayne IN #
Wed 9/30/09 Magic Stick Detroit MI #
Thu 10/1/09 Wrong Bar Toronto ON #
Fri 10/2/09 Babylon Ottawa ON #
Sat 10/3/09 Pop Montreal Montreal QC #%
Mon 10/5/09 The Dark Lady Providence RI #
Tue 10/6/09 Great Scotts Allston MA #
Wed 10/7/09 Wesleyan Middletown CT #
Thu 10/8/09 Mercury Lounge New York NY #
Fri 10/9/09 The Bell House Brooklyn NY #%
Sat 10/10/09 31st St. Pub Pittsburgh PA $
Sun 10/11/09 Hideout Chicago IL $
Mon 10/12/09 Brothers Omaha NE $
Tue 10/13/09 Bender’s Denver CO $
Sat 10/17/09 Scion/Vice Event Portland OR
Sun 10/18/09 Funhouse Seattle WA &
Tue 10/20/09 Stork Club Oakland CA &
Wed 10/21/09 Bar Pink Elephant San Diego CA &#
Thu 10/22/09 Echo Los Angeles CA &#
Sat 10/24/09 The Partisan Merced CA &
Sun 10/25/09 Budget Rock @ Bottom of the Hill San Francisco CA

* = w/ Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks
# = w/ The Oh Sees
% = w/ Golden Triangle
$ = w/ Box Elders
& = w/ Dan Melchoir

The Fresh & Onlys
Grey-Eyed Girls
(Woodsist)
Street Date: Sept. 15, 2009

1) Black Coffin
2) Grey-Eyed Girl
3) No Second Guessing
4) What’s His Shadow Still Doing Here
5) Invisible Forces
6) Dude’s Got a Tender Heart
7) D.Y.
8) Happy To Be Living
9) What Goes In Circles
10) I’m Gonna Be Your Elevator
11) Clowns (Took My Baby Away)
12) The Delusion Of Man

THE FRESH & ONLYS LINKS:

Label Page – http://woodsist.com

MySpace – www.myspace.com/thefreshonlys

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