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Editor’s Pick #206: The Soft Pack by dana20watts
The Soft Pack: Another soundtrack-worthy band from CaliforniaListen to The Soft Pack

PREVIEW: LISTEN The Soft Pack’s “Answer to Yourself,” on their Myspace.

In my search for some new music — my favorite method of procrastination — I came across a list of cover songs, one being a version of Phoenix’s “Fences” by The Soft Pack. I figured it was worth a listen since, you know, Phoenix is awesome and all.

The song instantly made me imagine walking around Urban Outfitters while it blasted so loudly my eardrums burst. But unlike most of the stuff they play, I didn’t mind it. That in itself persuaded me to listen to some of the band’s original tracks, such as “Parasites” and their new single, “Answer to Yourself.” I quickly felt like I stepped out of Urban Outfitters and into an episode of “The O.C.”

The San Diego-based band, formally known as The Muslims, fuse the conventional, laid-back California indie rock with a more high-energy, danceable sound. I’d say they’re a mix between The Strokes and Interpol — a match made in hipster heaven.

The Soft Pack’s funky sound is already gaining popularity in the indie rock world. Their recently self-released, untitled debut EP sold so many records it’s currently being re-pressed- with brand new tracks, I might add. They were even one of the most popular acts at this year’s CMJ festival, with shows that the New York Press called “no bullshit.”

If these credentials don’t convince you, take my word for it: The Soft Pack is definitely worth adding to your iTunes.

— Dana Mikaelian, Communications Director

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Emerging Artist: The Fresh & Onlys by cweeks88

Fresh out of their garage

Fresh out of their garage

PREVIEW: Download The Fresh & Onlys’ “I Saw You (It Was Strange)” MP3

These days nostalgia for the past is at an all-time high. Whether it’s fashion, cars, or music, we’ll just mix n’ match and recycle old ideas and make them new again! That’s why we have groups like The Fresh & Onlys that are a part of this burgeoning “’60s revivalist” movement carelessly wearing its influences on its sleeves.

The most popular of these “revivalist” groups today are bands like Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear, who have infused the lovely harmonies of ’60s California bands, from The Mamas and The Papas, The Beach Boys to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

The Fresh & Onlys call back to the grittier bands from the East Coast and some sounds that weren’t even popular in the 1960s — with songs that sound as if they’re being played on scratchy 45s you could only find in a jukebox in a Tarantino film. Surprisingly enough, this band is from sunny San Francisco.

The influences can be spotted a mile away by any casual audiophile who hasn’t already ruined his/her hearing from listening to Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music. On “Tell Me What You Want to Know” The Fresh & Onlys employ a juggernaut of rhythm that harkens back to The Velvet Underground classic “I’m Waiting for the Man.” Tim Cohen’s vocals combine haunting Scott Walker and abrasive Lou Reed impersonations.

Their track “I Saw You (It Was Strange)” clashes old school American early ’60s rock with the jolting psychedelic melodies of Syd Barrett‘s Pink Floyd. This occurs in a break between the indistinct, yet lovely, “aww-aww-awws” with the first lyrics “I saw you/ Yes it is/ Seeing me/ Through-ough you.” They aren’t the most brilliant lyrics: at first glance, they sound like Barrett-wannabe’s. But that’s hardly any reason to pin The Fresh & Onlys down since the atmospherics they instill in their recordings are good enough to make you forget about the words.

If you’re in California be sure to check them out this month in the handful of gigs they’re playing all over the state. For the rest of you, check them out on their upcoming cross-country tour with Thee Oh Sees!

— Charlie Weeks

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Editor’s Pick #99: “California Girls” by jpoinier
April 6, 2009, 9:13 am
Filed under: Editor Picks, Music Videos | Tags: , , ,

On this day in 1965 a classic was born. Stemming from the inner thoughts of teenage boys, “California Girls,” was simple, to the point and innocently sexual. On Apr 6, the Beach Boys cut this classic track, not only making history but simultaneously complimenting every girl in the nation. We are proud to fall under their “stylish” category.

– Jackie Poinier, Blog Editor

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