We've talked for a better part of our about our anticipation of the great sophomore LP by Window Twins, Wish, the result of the collaboration between Tim Cohen (Fresh and Onlys, Magic Trick) and Jon Bernson (Exray's/Ray's Vast Basement). Cassettes are available via Crash Symbols and digital as well, which you can also found at the major digital outlets, with the vinyl on Volar any day now. Proper album reviews are starting to roll in, which you can read below. We'll have a full album stream up soon as soon as the vinyl's in our hands, but you can check out some choice cuts and videos below. Purchase limited color LPs for $14, or the LP/cassette together for $16.
Soft Riot's remix/"version" of "Don't Let Me Down" via Fader:
"Londoner Soft Riot’s high-stepping remix of “Don’t Let Me Down,” by the weird-pop Window Twins (the Bay Area team of Tim Cohen of The Fresh & Onlys and Jon Bernson of Exray’s), sounds less like science fiction, as the “Wormhole Version” name suggests, and more like the grimy entrance song of a leather-jacketed rat. The Fonz with a cheese stick in his teeth, trotting around and snapping to the song’s funky bass line, a riff blown up even bigger than the original here thanks to an array of mimicking synths. The Twins’ sophomore LP, Wish, is out now on cassette and vinyl via Crash Symbols and Volar Records. "
What makes the LP a success is that they work to maintain some of the tendencies more closely associated with both men; that is, the folky, indie-rock-leaning earnestness, while building up incrementally to something expansive.
Album opener “Two Left Feet” may soak its vocals in reverb and float with spacey guitar strums, but it’s a quaint folk tune at its core about being nervous and awkward. “Old People” maintains that quaintness, with a lyrical focus about growing older and a catchy piano part, but buries it under multiple layers of studio fuzz. Even soaked in sonic ash, though, the shiny bits manage to maintain their luster and appeal. And by the time the record closes with “Good People”, the folky songwriting element and the haze of psychedelic effects are all mashed up into one glorious, groovy mess that blurs and happily obliterates musical lines.
But even as Cohen and Bernson perfect their aural marriage, they maintain semblances of their individuality, specifically in their unique vocals (Cohen’s more multi-faceted, while Bernson’s emotions are more immediate). It’s enough to draw in respective fans while the rest of the album does the job of making it very clear there’s something both familiar and disarming to their hybrid sound, a construct as bubbly as it is bizarre. Let’s do it again real soon, gents.
Via Impose Magazine:
» The work of Tim Cohen and Jon Bernson for their primary musical outlets (The Fresh & Onlys and Exray’s, respectively) demonstrates each musicians’ knack for pop clarity and realized song-structure. To arrive there, Cohen gravitates towards rock instrumentation while Bernson employs synthesized sounds. Their collaboration as Window Twins finds the duo drawing from both schools of performance, only saturating the instrumentation in dense, lo-fidelity production that makes it difficult to differentiate. The emphasis on Wish is clearly creating a cohesive mood. While structures are intact and melodies are present, albeit obscured, Cohen and Bernson aspire towards an ambiance of down-trodden psychedelia. Each performer has a known affinity for the home recording process, but Window Twins allows them to spotlight their manipulation of that process as brightly as any instrument. In Cohen’s case, such experimentalism isn’t constructive for the current, refined approach of The Fresh & Onlys. Here, he is liberated to fulfill his most experimental recording proclivities.
Live drums, programmed beats, Wurlitzer organ, guitar, horns and synthesizers operate together as different aspects of one texture. The most impressive aspect of the instrumentation is two-fold. It cultivates a texture that defies our expectations of electronic beats with warm recording. Conversely, it engages listeners by alternating unexpectedly into a live drum solo introduction for “Wine into Winter,” or a staccato brass section harmony on “Different Light” without warning.
For “Thunder and Lightning,” as the title might imply with its seemingly telling nod to vintage dub, meandering bass lines and intermittent horns are underpinned by a reggae beat that devolves into dark dub for an arresting bridge. “Others” is the album’s most energetic track and effective use of its unusual instrumentation. It begins with a surprisingly straight-forward electric guitar lead before a galloping snare beat abruptly appears. Organ, piano, peripheral tambourine and an eerie Theremin congeal beneath a repetitive chant about being mindful to “others in the world.”
While the vocals are as heavily soaked as the music, the emotive skill of each singer permeates the mix. While there is plenty of fodder for discussion in the cyclical grooves, eclectic instrumentation and murky production; the strongest moments ofWish aren’t contingent on the instruments or studio trickery, but rather the inventiveness of the singing. The production is consistently pleasant, but with the vocals removed it might become soporific. Luckily, both vocal performances are assertively mixed. Particularly on “Two Left Feet,” Cohen and Bernson slide along a sinuous synth line directly into listener’s skulls where they coo together in a hushed ritual. Skillfully harmonizing and interacting with one another’s voices, they also heed the conversational and narrative nature of the lyrics with tactful vocal delivery. The result is the Wish’s absolute highlight.
Musicians tend to recoil at the term "side project," and with good reason. Calling a band or an album a side project suggests that it's a dabble, a dodge, an exercise that might be fun or instructive for the participants but only of passing interest to the audience. And if you've spent a lot of time (or even just a little) trying to create something, that kind of reduction is pretty annoying. Perhaps that's why these, ahem, "exploratory enterprises" seem to be treated with greater seriousness lately. Is Divine Fits a side project? How about Atoms for Peace? Didn't Gnarls Barkley start out as a partnership between artists known for other things, and then become the thing that made Cee-Lo Green and Danger Mouse mainstream stars?
The answers to these questions are: "Not really," "more so than Divine Fits but not totally," and "of course, though it's nothing compared to what The Voice did for Cee-Lo." Still, even if we agree that side projects being treated with the same respect as "real" projects is a good thing, it doesn't mean the term as it was originally intended is necessarily bad. Take San Francisco's Window Twins, a collaboration between Tim Cohen of psych-rockers the Fresh & Onlys and Jon Bernson of the deconstructivist electro-pop group Exray's. Cohen and Bernson have recorded two albums together, including the new Wish, a collection of atmospheric sketches that explore the scuzzy, sinister, and lo-fi fringes of jazzy R&B, and ramshackle folk. It's not a fully realized record or especially immediate, and it's not really intended to be; Wishhas the freeform adventurousness of an extemporaneous experiment, where the process is ultimately more important than the finished result. And, if appreciated in this context, it's a fascinating listen.
The album opening "Two Left Feet" is easily the most song-like track on Wish, sounding only slightly murkier than the Fresh & Onlys' excellent 2009 album Grey-Eyed Girls. But for the most part, Wish is more about trying out sonic textures than presenting polished compositions, establishing a mood that grows more unsettling as the album progresses. "The Sky is Back" is typical of Wish's smudged soulful malevolence, with its skittering beat and bright horn washes. On the glowering "Others", a cowpunk gallop clicks along like a clock, which is echoed by Cohen's menacing "tick tock" refrain. That paranoia of "Others"-- echoed by Cohen's insistence that "there's others in the world, don't forget about that/ you know there's others out there"-- deepens on the creepy "Good People", which pairs a despairing lyric ("when good people go away/ where do they go") with a spare, Massive Attack-like groove.
This is a far cry from the Fresh & Onlys' most recent album, the pretty and poppy Long Slow Dance. If Cohen was repressing his dark side on that record, he indulges it fully with Bernson, and in the process tries out weird sounds that no longer fit with the Fresh & Onlys' more streamlined presentation. About half of the time, the diversions don't coalesce, like on the woozy "Thunder and Lightning", which sways uneasily between promising abstraction and unfocused puttering. The bold "Wine Into Winter", with its minute-long drum solo and full-on jazz-rock affectations, is better, though mostly as a window into whatever Cohen and Bernson might do with their "other" groups. Wish works only intermittently on its own terms, but as a sketchbook for future the Fresh & Onlys and Exray's releases, it's potentially illuminating.
Via Tiny Mix Tapes:
I almost forgot what pop sounded like. Not the kind being relentlessly streamed from every corner of the internet, but the sort created when people get together, play a variety of instruments, and embrace melody outside of any formula. Window Twins is now that entity. I’ve never bought into Cohen (The Fresh & Onlys) or Bernson (Exray’s) before — perhaps due to a bit of close-mindedness or a lack of palpable difference between Indie Act #532 and #533. Wish is wholly recognizable. It’s warm. If it were an article of clothing, it’d be a chunky Nick Drake scarf worn for purpose rather than fashion. More important, this is boombox ready. It’s a $5 tape that is just crying for a neighborhood blasting, to wake up the Williamsburg elite from their art comas. Art is often best suited for popular manifestation, but fear not bourgeoisie elitists — Crash Symbols is equally adept at meeting the demands of every contender and pretender with a vinyl edition. Wish is certainly turntable appropriate, but more than that, it’s noble in its 1980s Billboard 200 chart-chasing. Seriously, “Different Light” could share space with Hall & Oates, Godley & Crème, or Ashford and Simpson. Cohen & Bernson… you’ve made me love you. Wish, you rascally minx!
Via Turntable Kitchen:
Window Twins - "The Sky Is Black" from The Tearist on Vimeo.
window twins - two left feet from broken machine films on Vimeo.
Window Twins--"Thunder and Lightning" from Volar Records on Vimeo.