Music

On 'Full Moon, Heavy Light' Ona Show Off Their Penchant for Dreamy Indie Vibes

Photo courtesy of Oktober Promotion

A perfect soundtrack of impending summer sunsets, Ona's Full Moon, Heavy Light banks on retro vibes with pitch-perfect songwriting.

Full Moon, Heavy Light
Ona

Hickerman Holler

10 May 2019

Take one look at the cover for Ona's latest record Full Moon, Heavy Light, and it's not difficult to anticipate their vibe. With its jarring painted images and sharp juxtapositions of colors, it takes cues from the Band's Music from Big Pink and Nick Drake's Pink Moon, records loaded with thoughtful, tuneful songs overlaid with warm production values. That's not to say Full Moon, Heavy Light is derivative; it simply takes inspiration from classic records, infusing it with an updated sensibility and solid songwriting.

"Summer Candy" is a breezy, carefree track for the warmer months. With dreamy guitars and a chipper beat, it's pure sunshine, an unpretentious and honest take on the lighter side of indie rock. It's a vibe carried through songs like the synth-adorned "Allison in the Grass" and "Pennyroyal" with its tasteful piano and strings lurking in the background. Lead-off single "Golden Highway Deserter" fuses the crackly sonic textures of 1970s rock–namely warm guitars and a fuzzy, pumping bass–with the sweet songwriting ideals of throwback pop-rock.

There is a glut of bands today exploiting throwback sounds for overly-nostalgic and commercial purposes. It's a dangerous proposition: while the most sincere of artists want to pay homage and hit the emotional musical heights of their favorite records, others simply capitalize on retro for retro's sake. The 1980s are the big focus at the moment, and while copying its aesthetic is easier than murdering fish in the proverbial barrel (neon and synths and cassette tapes, oh my!), there are valuable qualities that, sadly get left in the dust.

All that is to say, Ona champion the spirit of rock music of the 1960s and 1970s, and they do it with love and heart. Unlike their overly-nostalgic rock counterparts, Ona embraces the best parts of vintage Southern California songwriters without sounding too obvious or restricted. Sonically, "Young Forever" champions the '60s/'70s West Coast sound with light-as-a-feather textures and orchestration. Harmonically and structurally, however, it's a timeless affair, unbound to time or place.

As a band, Ona knows their sound, and they deliver track after track of pure indie/rock/pop sunshine. As Full Moon, Heavy Light carries through to its second half, however, the delivery grows slightly stale. "Quito" is a fine song on its own, but its impact is lessened after so many tracks of the same sound and personality. Taken as overall the record is deep in vibe and sonic soul, an excellent soundtrack to summer sunsets. Closer, headphone listens, however, leave certain aspects to be desired.

Nonetheless, these are merely slight blips on a fantastic sophomore release. Full Moon, Heavy Light is an irresistible record, loaded with inviting sonic scapes and catchy numbers. It's a sincere release that tips a hat towards the past without relying on nostalgia or pastiche. One can only imagine the songwriting heights Ona will hit in the future.

7
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

12 Essential Performances from New Orleans' Piano "Professors"

New Orleans music is renowned for its piano players. Here's a dozen jams from great Crescent City keyboardists, past and present, and a little something extra.

Music

Jess Williamson Reimagines the Occult As Source Power on 'Sorceress'

Folk singer-songwriter, Jess Williamson wants listeners to know magic is not found in tarot cards or mass-produced smudge sticks. Rather, transformative power is deeply personal, thereby locating Sorceress as an indelible conveyor of strength and wisdom.

By the Book

Flight and Return: Kendra Atleework's Memoir, 'Miracle Country'

Although inconsistent as a memoir, Miracle Country is a breathtaking environmental history. Atleework is a shrewd observer and her writing is a gratifying contribution to the desert-literature genre.

Music

Mark Olson and Ingunn Ringvold Celebrate New Album With Performance Video (premiere)

Mark Olson (The Jayhawks) and Ingunn Ringvold share a 20-minute performance video that highlights their new album, Magdalen Accepts the Invitation. "This was an opportunity to perform the new songs and pretend in a way that we were still going on tour because we had been so looking forward to that."

Music

David Grubbs and Taku Unami Collaborate on the Downright Riveting 'Comet Meta'

Comet Meta is a brilliant record full of compositions and moments worthy of their own accord, but what's really enticing is that it's not only by David Grubbs but of him. It's perhaps the most emotive, dream-like, and accomplished piece of Grubbsian experimental post-rock.

Music

On Their 2003 Self-Titled Album, Buzzcocks Donned a Harder Sound and Wore it With Style and Taste

Buzzcocks, the band's fourth album since their return to touring in 1989, changed their sound but retained what made them great in the first place

Reading Pandemics

Chaucer's Plague Tales

In 18 months, the "Great Pestilence" of 1348-49 killed half of England's population, and by 1351 half the population of the world. Chaucer's plague tales reveal the conservative edges of an astonishingly innovative medieval poet.

Music

Country's Jaime Wyatt Gets in Touch With Herself on 'Neon Cross'

Neon Cross is country artist Jaime Wyatt's way of getting in touch with all the emotions she's been going through. But more specifically, it's about accepting both the past and the present and moving on with pride.

Music

Counterbalance 17: Public Enemy - 'It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back'

Hip-hop makes its debut on the Big List with Public Enemy’s meaty, beaty manifesto, and all the jealous punks can’t stop the dunk. Counterbalance’s Klinger and Mendelsohn give it a listen.

Music

Sondre Lerche and the Art of Radical Sincerity

"It feels strange to say it", says Norwegian pop artist Sondre Lerche about his ninth studio album, "but this is the perfect time for Patience. I wanted this to be something meaningful in the middle of all that's going on."

Books

How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.

Film

From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.