Kalporz X Monolith Cocktail: Tim Cohen ‘You Are Still Here’

March 30, 2021

ALBUM REVIEW/Nicola Guerra

The Monolith Cocktail has been exchanging posts with our pen pal partners at the leading Italian music publication Kalporz for the last two years or more now; an exchange that continues unabated in 2021. This month Nicola Guerra introduces us to the under-the-radar song writing of Tim Cohen.

Tim Cohen ‘You Are Still Here’
(Bobo Integral Records)

It must be frustrating to prove to the world that you’re a thoroughbred songwriter when for years you’ve been told you have the skills but haven’t yet (fully) proved it. You carry around the judgment that someone has made regardless, without evaluating your artistic journey move by move. So, for many, Fresh & Only are one of the many bands that populate the Bay Area of San Francisco, intent on resurrecting that much-idealized Summer of Love, while the Magik Trick Band is just an impromptu project of Tim Cohen, voice and guitar of the aforementioned Fresh & Only, who takes a break from the garage-pop hangover to seek refuge in the tranquility of folk.

I’ve never agreed with any of this; on the contrary, I’ve always felt that the good Cohen’s musical creatures contained something pure, beautiful and true. I have always thought that improvement is possible, but is it feasible to think of improving spontaneity? Isn’t spontaneity itself a unique and indissoluble point of arrival, especially in music? What I have always dreamed and hypothesized is that Cohen would have written his masterpiece sooner or later, perhaps far from the pressure of those who tell you that there is someone out there better than you. Nothing could be truer, probably, but nothing could be more useless, when a musician shows himself to the world in a transparent way, with his weaknesses but above all with his strengths.

So, after much wandering between solo projects, stubbornness not to conform (Long Slow Dance in 2012 mixed garage and 80s pop in a delicious way), the ability to write memorable garage-pop songs (‘Shattered Moon’ and ‘I’m Gonna be your Elevator’ from Fresh & Onlys’ first records), fascinating fuzz-pop hybrids (‘Animal of Love’) and even poignant and dreamy folk ballads (‘Torture’ from Magik Trick’s Ruler of the Night), finally comes the certificate that certifies the greatness of this musician.

It’s no coincidence that You Are Still Here is released by a small and independent label in Madrid, Bobo Integral Record. Which will surely have made him feel at ease. And he reciprocates with this little masterpiece. Apparently relaxed, full of airy and sunny POP melodies ‘Give Me Yours’ and ‘Somebody Bout’ but also of more psych folk-tinged pieces ‘Dadaist Friend’ and ‘Homless’, the bearded Tim’s sixth work is not the goal of a lifetime achieved but an important milestone that attests to the undoubted quality of his writing and artistic vision.

You can always do better, sure. But better than being yourself is practically impossible.


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