The Fresh & Onlys started out as a collaboration between prolific frontman Tim Cohen (Black Fiction) and bassist Shayde Sartin, who began putting songs together in 2004. The Fresh & Onlys' lineup eventually expanded to include drummer Kyle Gibson, guitarist Wymond Miles, and Heidi Alexander (who soon left the band). Drawing from a hodgepodge of influences (among them Buzzcocks, the Mekons, and Country Joe MacDonald), the new lineup arrived over time at a grimy yet sunny pop sound along the lines of Saturday Looks Good to Me and Welcome with plenty of garage rock mixed in. In early 2008, they issued their first recording, the Imaginary Friends EP, on their friend Kelley Stoltz's label.
After they self-released the Medicine Island cassette, John Dwyer's Castle Face label put out their self-titled debut album in April of 2009, and a 7" single, "I'll Tell You Everything," on Dirty Knobby Industries followed. The band's second full-length album, Grey-Eyed Girls, was released on Woodsist in the fall of 2009. It was followed by a flood of recordings in 2010: an EP for Captured Tracks (August on My Mind); a handful of singles for various labels; and finally their third album, Play It Strange, which was released in October by In the Red. The group began 2011's output in April with a lusher, reverby EP called Secret Walls, released on the Sacred Bones label. Also that year, Cohen released an album (Ruler of the Night) on Hardly Art with his other band, Magic Trick, and Miles released a solo album (Under the Pale Moon) for Sacred Bones.
The Fresh & Onlys returned in August of 2012 with their fourth album and first for Mexican Summer, the thoughtful and relatively slickly produced Long Slow Dance. The group followed up with an EP, Soothsayer, in 2013, while Cohen and Miles also found time that year to release another Magic Trick album (River of Souls) and solo album (Cut Yourself Free), respectively. The band's fifth album, House of Spirits, was written by Cohen while visiting an isolated Arizona horse ranch and reflected a laid-back Western feel. It was released by Mexican Summer in June of 2014.
The rhythm section of Sartin and Gibson parted ways with the band soon after, and Cohen and Miles toured with replacements. In 2015, Castle Face issued Early Years Anthology, a collection of unreleased Fresh & Onlys songs from before and around the time of their debut. The Magic Trick albums Half Man Half Machine and Other Man's Blues arrived later in 2015 and in mid-2016, respectively, the latter within weeks of Miles' third solo outing, Call by Night. In the meantime, Cohen signed with the Sinderlyn label for his fourth solo LP, Luck Man, released in early 2017. Operating officially as a duo, the Fresh & Onlys re-emerged that summer with Wolf Lie Down, also on Sinderlyn. ~ Margaret Reges