by Aaron Carnes on Sep 05, 2012
The Fresh and Onlys perform at the Catalyst on Sunday, Sep. 9.
The latest “garage rock” movement—led by Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees and the Fresh and Onlys—is proving to be the most diverse, least-retro-sounding group of bands to have the term slapped on them in the last 30 years.
The Fresh and Onlys have perhaps strayed the furthest from the garage-rock sound with the release of their fourth album, Long Slow Dance. Their early albums were characterized by a blend of lo-fi, fuzzy recordings, psychedelic instrumentation and pop-sensibilities. The new album is pop-oriented, but the production value has a textured 1980s quality, with a sound reminiscent of the college radio bands from that era—R.E.M., the Smiths and the Church.
“In the past, we were always just doing whatever we had to get the songs completed. We couldn’t afford to use better microphones. We couldn’t afford to take our time making a record. With this record, we were definitely far more nuanced trying to accomplish something sonically and musically, and taking our time in doing it,” says bass player Shayde Sartin.
This isn’t to say that Long Slow Dance is a complete departure for the band. The jangling guitars, mid-tempo post-punk beats and Smith-esquc melodramatic melodies were always present on their early records. But now they take centerstage with the cleaner production. Not to mention, the underground bands of the 1980s were highly influenced by the psychedelic garage bands of the 1960s.
Sartin is tired of having to justify the band’s decision to move away from lo-fi recordings since the recording quality isn’t at all what characterizes their music.
“I like really produced-sounding records. Anybody that says they don’t is a fucking liar. You’re going to tell me you don’t like the sound of the Smiths' The Queen is Dead? You’re a fucking liar. You’re going to tell me you don’t like the sound of Hall & Oates? You’re a fucking liar. Everybody likes a good sound,” Sartin says.
What does truly characterizes the band is their converging mixture of moods and thoughtful songwriting, something they learned from those great underground bands of the 80s.
“We’re always trying to do this perfect blend of melancholy, sincerity and sadness mixed with humor, lightheartedness and awkwardness. People think of R.E.M. and the Smiths as these super humorless bands. In fact they were extremely filled with humor on the tragic comedy side,” Sartin says.
The Fresh and Onlys perform Sunday at the Catalyst Atrium.