Personnel: Tim Cohen (vocals, guitar, keyboards, marimba, drums, percussion); Heidi Alexander, Grace Cooper (vocals); Wymond Miles (guitar, keyboards); Shayde Sartin (guitar).
Photographers: Mark Kaiser; Harry Waine.
The Fresh & Onlys' Early Years Anthology gathers up stray tracks recorded before and around the time of their first album for Castle Face, which was released in 2008. One listen to the collection and it's easy to be dumbfounded that none of them actually made it on the album or anywhere else. It speaks to the creative spark of the trio (Tim Cohen, Wymond Miles, and Shayde Sartin) that they had enough songs for a really strong debut album and an entire collection of outcasts as vital and alive as this. Apparently in their earliest days they cranked out more top-notch gunky, hooky, clammy garage rockers and psych blowouts than most bands do in an entire career. And even with putting these 12 songs on the shelf, they had enough cooking to release the excellent Grey-Eyed Girls LP the very next year. They were definitely operating with a high level of energy and knew exactly what they were doing. Any song on this comp would have been fit to release; some of them are a little experimental and show avenues the band didn't travel down much further, like the oddball ballad "Double Sided Woman" or the dark and slightly gothy "Deviants Within," but the majority are the kind of guitar-heavy, slightly queasy tracks that sound like they were just excavated from a shallow grave. Songs as strong as "Sunglasses" and the Motown-bouncy "Tongue in My Cheek" didn't deserve to be buried at all; they really should have been on singles at the very least. That's just picking two at random; the rest of the album doesn't feature a single weak track. While it was kind of a bummer that these great songs were left behind at the time, it's just as nice that they were finally brought to light, giving fans of the band, and of weirdo garage rock in general, a chance to enjoy them at last. ~ Tim Sendra