Tim Cohen, “You Are Still Here”

Tim Cohen
You Are Still Here
BOBO INTEGRAL
7/10

Tim Cohen knows what he’s doing. If he had a superpower, it’d probably be the inability to write bad songs. The Fresh & Onlys vocalist isn’t flashy in his prowess, but new music from Tim Cohen should be right up there with death and taxes. He’s not a superstar, but every team needs a player who’s consistent night in and night out. Tim Cohen is that guy. And like all Tim Cohen–related projects, there are a few calling cards that populate his new solo album, You Are Still Here.

Between The Fresh & Onlys and his solo work, the Bay Area native has built plenty of songs in the psych-folk canon, but permeated them with a particular Cohenness that invites self-awareness, wit, and catchiness to the party. You Are Still Here is no different. At times, it would fit in nicely alongside the Brooklyn brethren peddling in psych-rock like Woods, at others, Cohen sounds like he spent his youth learning the songbook of the Grateful Dead. During those moments, like on “Someone Bout,” the songwriter recruits a delightful performance from backup vocalists, which stand epically atop the homespun instrumentation led by a grooving drumbeat and locked-in bassline.

Elsewhere, on “Almost Enemies,” Cohen plays with the gigantic myth of the West, singing above a rollicking groove that’s taken straight from a John Wayne movie. The organ shimmers with the heat of the desert floor, and Cohen’s voice is grand and full; it’s a nice antithesis to some of the quieter DIY moments on the record. 

But even when Cohen goes for these grand allusions to eras past, he’s still deeply committed to his indie roots. From his intimate vocal performances to the reverb that shrouds the entire record in haze, You Are Still Here is deeply anchored in Tim Cohen’s history. Even the delightful album cover, featuring a hand-painted basketball court populated by a horse, a USPS mailbox, and a pink house feels right at home in Cohen’s world. He’s long been a prophet of modern indie rock in the Bay Area, and You Are Still Here illustrates why he’s a trusted source for catchy hooks and jangly tunes. His music is as sturdy as the Golden Gate Bridge, as eclectic as a walk through the last parts of the city untouched by radical gentrification. Tim Cohen simply makes very good rock music, and that’s something we should never stop celebrating.

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