Live Project 2004
The Onlys have been playing guitar-based rock in Austin since 1994 in moods ranging from gently melancholy to boisterously strident…and still melancholy. I played drums for The Onlys for about a year included a short tour to Albuquerque, NM.
Evil Sponge – Evilsponge.com
Perhaps Austin, Texas is the aural equivalent of that place? Self proclaimed “Live Music Capital”, I half expect to hear, “we have BOTH kinds of music, Country AND Western!” So while most local acts are dispatched to the appropriate pigeonhole, some remain doomed never to find their intended audience. Of course, Austin has enjoyed breakthrough Indie acts. Lift To Experience, SPOON and Explosions In The Sky all hailed from these parts with only the faintest steel pedal twang to associate them with alt-country.
Now Austin has The Onlys and not the faintest idea what to do with them! Had they been a Montreal or Toronto band I’ll wager it’d be a different story. EVERYBODY would have heard of Limbic System and the album would sit, rightfully, alongside Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene in every review of the year.
Limbic System is majestic. A rich collection of off-kilter, lo-fi songs that reward repeated listening. Across sixteen tracks, The Onlys offer gentle acoustics, eerie synth-modulated melodies and harsher, textured guitars, enveloping Limbic System with true personality.
The Lights on Black Hills Street gives an early indication of the band’s power and potential. A Yo La Tengo waltz with a nod to American Music Club dynamics and the sensitivity of Low. Yet The Onlys defy genre comparison. While they bring other bands to mind, they somehow never sound like anyone else. This is notable again on the ghostly Tulsa and even with Attica, the album’s only real dalliance with US college rock. Here, there’s a strong road-movie feel, sonically in the Pixies/Husker Du mould (pun intentional).
Limbic System reaches its creative peak with the trio of Slide Song, Shine and Reborn. A curvaceous slide-guitar moan transports the former, while a lonely harmonica cries out on the exceptional Shine. Reborn plays homage to a Pavement-fixated Blur before Sinking Stones reprises Slide Song with a beautiful new arrangement.
And it all works perfectly with diverse vocals (shared duties with the brothers Chenoweth and Femme Fatal keyboardist Rachel Romo) and exceptional bass playing to the fore, driving the songs and lending real thematic narrative. A handful of experimental tracks leads us finally to ah Happiness, which is simultaneously soft yet resentful. (Think Go-Betweens) It closes the album nicely leaving such a bittersweet taste that there is only one place to truly find solace.
Limbic System is a triumph. This collection of fuzzy, off-kilter alt rock fully merits top marks and HAS to be a contender, surely, for album of the year, despite being released in 2005? I don’t recall Arcade Fire protesting too loudly over their (posthumous) 2005 awards for 2004’s Funeral. I only hope Limbic System can make a similar breakthrough to its Canadian spiritual sibling and find its intended audience.
Who exactly? Oh, I’d say music lovers, simply.
Concert Live Wire – concertlivewire.com
Hailing from the new-music capitol of Austin, TX indie-rockers The Onlys have just released their third full-length debut entitled Limbic System. On it the trio, consisting of Rachel Romo and brother Jason and Joel Chenoweth, have created a sweeping, atmospheric effort that is, at times, hypnotic and engaging, while at others also a bit lethargic and self-absorbed.
The breathy, ethereal whine that floats over the sleepy rhythm on the opening track “Walk Through Walls,” sets the tone for this sixteen-track collection of shoe-gazing, indie-rock for closet-goths. Further explorations into the stratosphere, such as “Frequencies in the Dial,” featuring a haunting reverb guitar behind Romo’s sensual voice, as well as the eerie instrumental balladry of “Turn” and the weariness of “Ah Happiness” add a sense of otherworldliness to the record.
The collection is not without an energy source, however, as witnessed on the punchier numbers “Attica” and the heavily distorted beauty of the instrumental “Swan,” which is more than reminiscent of the early psychedelic Gish-era Smashing Pumpkins. The band further injects the shimmering, hypnotic guitar tones of The Cure along with a little Eno-esque knob-twiddling into “Sinking Stones.”
While a rather pleasant offering, The Only’s main drawback is their one-dimensionality. Maybe if they’re able to stimulate and broaden their own limbic systems (the part of the brain which is thought to control emotions and behavior) then their next effort will be even more memorable.
Daily Lobo – DailyLobo.com
The Onlys are an acquired taste, said Jason Chenoweth, lead singer and guitarist of the band.
“We’re not writing formulaic music,” he said. “We capture the energy of art and then go back and rearrange it.”
This indie rock band from Austin, Texas, will be in Albuquerque Friday to promote their album Limbic System.
Everyone in the band is strong-headed about what they want in the music, Jason said. Although things can be bittersweet, he said band members have learned to balance their musical sensibilities so that everybody can bring something to the music.
“Everyone has something they’re working on,” said Rachel Romo, keyboardist for the band. “Everyone adds their own touch and then a song comes out of it.”
Jason said Romo was originally a classical pianist, and she brings that classical element to the band.
“She’s very diversified,” he said. “She can be anything from Chopin to Sex Pistols.”
Members have their own way of creating music, he said.
“I’m a television junkie,” Romo said. “I listen to background music in shows. It’s fun for me to figure out what the advertising agencies do to get you to watch it. It’s in the music.”
She said every time she reads or watches something, she can take it and incorporate it into her music.
“I’m not a prolific writer,” she said. “But I have a bad habit of writing everything in my head and not being able to get it all out.”
Jason said he thinks up tunes while he’s driving.
“I don’t listen to the radio,” he said. “The radio in my head kicks in. A lot of melodies get lost in the wind. The recurring ones are the ones I try to capture.”
Joel Chenoweth, Jason’s brother and the bass player, said he became a musician because he needed to express himself.
“I needed a creative outlet, and I wasn’t good at painting,” he said.
Jason said the album is their best work to date and shows their growth in lyrical arrangement and composition. But he said it was a difficult album to make because they lost their drummer halfway through.
“It became more of a mission to finish it because we were feeling like the record would finish us,” he said.
Jason said he and Joel started playing guitar when they were teenagers. But he said music has always been a part of their lives. Their mother was adamant about getting them to be creative.
“It’s the way we were raised,” Jason said.
When asked what it’s like being in a band with his brother, Joel said they fight all the time.
“We’re always at each other’s throats,” he said. “But in the end we find a way to make a good song out of it.”
The Onlys are also inspired by Asian cultures, Jason said. Romo is studying Japanese and has brought the Asian influence into the band.
“Studying Japanese opens up the door to an easier appreciation and understanding of world music,” Romo said.
Jason said the band creates music for music’s sake now. He said when they first started the band they wanted to be rock star millionaires.
“We were naive,” he said. “It’s not about money anymore.”
A sides and B-log – A sides