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Ear to the Ground: The Fresh & Onlys' “Who Let the Devil”

A heady song steeped in the ghosts of the Arizona desert.

Though The Fresh & Onlys hail from San Francisco, their fifth studio long-player was born in the isolation of the Arizona desert. Frontman Tim Cohen retreated to an old ranch house there to pen the tunes that comprise 2014’s House of Spirits—a gathering of eerily beautiful songs that sound as haunted as the title suggests.

“Who Let The Devil” finds the band veering further away from the predictable retro-reverb trappings of San Francisco’s garage-rock scene. Drummer Kyle Gibson starts things off by locking into a steady-pedaling, vacuum-tight rhythm that has more in common with the War On Drugs’ Charlie Hall than all the 20-something Bay Area soft-hitters who grew up watching Meg White on YouTube.

The guitar playing here also offers more refreshing surprises than the city’s common overuse of cranked Silvertone amps. Wymond Miles’ unpredictably melodic lines and Cohen’s clean jangle leave plenty of room for Cohen’s sublime lyrics to work their psychedelic magic in darker-toned hues.