Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

A cornerstone band of a scene where rough-and-tumble garage-punks like Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees mix freely with sad-eyed psych-folk outfits like Sonny & The Sunsets and The Sandwitches, San Francisco’s Fresh & Onlys placed a boot in both camps on last year’s great Play It Strange. The Secret Walls EP leans a little more to the psych-folk side, burying the aggression in the lyrics and slowly coaxing it out in waves of ominous atmosphere. Settling into a contemplative, carefully measured pace that carries over to most of the record’s five songs, Secret Walls poses a series of paranoid stoner scenarios— “Do You Believe In Destiny?” “Keep Telling Everybody Lies”—over stinging spaghetti Western riffs and softly swinging (though always tightly controlled) rhythms. After the slow disintegration of “Wash Over Us,” a gauzy soundscape of gently weeping guitars and Tim Cohen’s acidic crooning, the record’s underlying note of disturbing discord comes to a head on the menacing closer “Poison Wine.” The vibes might be bad at times, but Secret Walls is definitely one good trip.


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