Report: Fresh & Onlys, Woods in Portland

Doug Fir Lounge in Portland, July 25: and
indie and garage rock feast.

 

By Tim Hinely

I had been
itching to see the Fresh & Onlys for quite some time, especially since I
had missed them here last year and their latest record, 2010’s Play it Strange, was one of my
favorites. They did not disappoint. These four unique looking individuals seem
like they were meant to be together. To meet, become friends, to make music
together and that if they had not found each other to play music with well, all
would not have been right in the universe.

 

Not only are
they all very good players but they seem to play so well off of each other. The
drummer (who resembles Crispin Glover, a bit) and bassist are a runaway
locomotive heading in your general direction. It’s controlled but just barely
while the lead guitarist (seemingly on some kind of Nikki Sudden trip) appears like
he could play anything you asked him to on the spot. Meanwhile, up front,
singer/guitarist/leader Tim Cohen keeps things moving, muttering things to the
crowd, pushing his head back in between words with his eyes rolling around as
if he’s about to peak any second. Musically it’s a healthy mix of all that is
good in rock music: psych, pop, punk, some surf, a bit of dusty western and
it’s all hooked on to a garage rock motor.

 

If they come to
your town drop your other plans because remember, when these four are on stage
in front of you, all is right in the world.

 

 

Woods, not to be
confused with The Woods, had a look of their own as well. The rhythm section
looked like a few college kids stoked to be on tour but the vocalist/singer
appeared to be heir scrawny professor (Jeremy Earl), albeit one with the best
falsetto in rock these days and the guy on tape loop/samplers had this thing in
his mouth (like a mask, sort of). It distorted his vocals but not in a Peter
Frampton mouthpiece sort of way, more like the vocal equivalent to the
Theremin.

 

This band, like
Fresh & Onlys seem to take decades of rock/pop music history and make it
their own. I’ve read comparisons to both The Band and Rain Parade and I heard
elements of both of those as well as The Byrds, Guided by Voice and others  and Woods seem to have a fresh approach to
the pop/rock thing.  I recognized songs
from their last two records, 2010’a At
Echo Lake
and this year’s Sun and
Shade
and it’s nice to see a band not afraid to include their influences
but also bring something new to the table. Well worth your hard-earned dough to
check out.

 

 

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