PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

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

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.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.


Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.


Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.


Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.


In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.


The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.


The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.


The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.


When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.


20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.


The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.


Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.


Kimm Rogers' "Lie" Is an Unapologetically Political Tune (premiere)

San Diego's Kimm Rogers taps into frustration with truth-masking on "Lie". "What I found most frustrating was that no one would utter the word 'lie'."


50 Years Ago B.B. King's 'Indianola Mississippi Seeds' Retooled R&B

B.B. King's passion for bringing the blues to a wider audience is in full flower on the landmark album, Indianola Mississippi Seeds.


Filmmaker Marlon Riggs Knew That Silence = Death

In turning the camera on himself, even in his most vulnerable moments as a sick and dying man, filmmaker and activist Marlon Riggs demonstrated the futility of divorcing the personal from the political. These films are available now on OVID TV.


The Human Animal in Natural Labitat: A Brief Study of the Outcast

The secluded island trope in films such as Cast Away and television shows such as Lost gives culture a chance to examine and explain the human animal in pristine, lab like, habitat conditions. Here is what we discover about Homo sapiens.


Bad Wires Release a Monster of a Debut with 'Politics of Attraction'

Power trio Bad Wires' debut Politics of Attraction is a mix of punk attitude, 1990s New York City noise, and more than a dollop of metal.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

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