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The Fresh & Onlys – Broadcast, Glasgow 15/06/13

18 June 2013, 11:30 | Written by Andrew Hannah

The members of San Francisco’s The Fresh & Onlys look a complete shambles. By the end of this show they look even worse: a tired, sweaty shambles, and for the duration of the show frontman Tim Cohen is an inarticulate mess, hardly finishing a sentence and bowing to crowd demanding him to sing some George Michael songs (I have no idea why this was happening – a terrible example of “local humour” no doubt).

Yet, on record – and here at Glasgow’s Broadcast – Cohen and the rest of The Fresh & Onlys are the romantic heart of the SF garage pop scene. Since 2010’s Play It Strange through to last year’s Long Slow Dance, Cohen’s been both the giddy teen, in love for the first time, and the experienced leading man, creating to-die-for dream pop in under three minutes, killer choruses and guitar work as much inspired by 1980s British indie as by 1960s pop classicism.

There’s worrying moments just before the band take the stage that they’re going to be playing to a handful of people, as the terrible weather and the sound of a man braying into a tin bucket (or The Stone Roses at Glasgow Green, if you must) takes its toll on attendance but once the band get going with ‘Wash Over Us’ there’s a decent – but still minor – turnout in the basement venue, and The Fresh & Onlys then treat us to some cuts from Long Slow Dance. Excellent on record, ’20 Days and 20 Nights’ and ‘Fire Alarm’ are even better in a raw live form with guitarist Wymond Miles’ spidery guitar lines given freedom to roam, while tracks like ‘Dream Girl’ and fan favourite ‘Waterfall’ combine a Papercuts-style knack for the lovelorn with some Echo and The Bunnymen gloom. It’s probably the perfect combination of wistfulness and miserablism, avoiding being overly twee but also missing the pitfalls of being a misanthrope.

For those who yearn for the less-polished version of The Fresh & Onlys, a new track (nameless, but what I’ll call ‘Building a Castle’ for the only recognisable lyric) seems to hint at a return to the band’s scuzzier days, it being a straight-ahead garage rocker, while a track like ‘Euphoria’ still allows Cohen and Miles to solo and mess around with their pedals and amps. For the most part though, it’s the measured sweet crunch of the newer material that dominates, with the final four track flourish all coming from Long Slow Dance, the highlights being the lament of ‘Foolish Mind’ and the aforementioned wig-out of set closer ‘Euphoria’.

With a new record promised in the spring of next year, I’m hoping the band act quickly and book a tour that’s timed to coincide with an album release. Long Slow Dance was released in October 2012, a long time in music these days, and that must be a contributing factor – The Stone Roses aside – for the average numbers at Broadcast. When the music and performance is as good as we heard, The Fresh & Onlys deserve a little better than an audience of 50 people.

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