Massachusetts, United States
“Once there was no stoppin'
Freight train on the move
Now I see how foolish I've been
and how much I stand to lose”
Few “neo-traditionalists” have dared to stray too far from the “traditionalist” part of that equation. Fans of the genre tend to be fervently purist. Boston-based band Oneside, however, isn’t afraid to risk biting the hand that feeds it.
“He lived unafraid of rolling in his grave
Found the freedom in losing all control
But were they there for you?
With nothing left to do
What are you thinkin’, shakin’ off your soul”
Oneside’s debut album, “First, To Last”, is full of structures, lyrics, and licks that are unabashedly plucked from the traditional American canon. Songs like “Lisa” and “Got To Go” would sound perfectly at home on a Nickel Creek or Allison Kraus album. But right from “First, To Last’s” foot-stomping, bluesy opening track
“The Letter,” which combines elements of bluegrass, rock, jazz, and even reggae, it is apparent that Oneside isn’t afraid to make departures from traditional styles. Other songs would fit right in on a Sufjan Stevens or even a Radiohead album. Yet all of the songs are deftly written and produced to create a coherent, if unique and slightly irreverent, sound. Other bands may play strictly in a conventional roots style but what sets Oneside apart is their willingness to take these traditional fundamentals and place them firmly in a modern context.
“I knew this time around I could stand upright
I could work in the day and stay in at night
But that every crossroad rips a soul from its vows
Ah, that I didn’t know ‘til now”
Ned DeBary, lead singer and guitarist, is joined by Grafton Pease on bass, Jake Brooks on drums and Chris Hersch on banjo. The four-some met in 2002, and have since toured the country regularly. They’ve opened for such musical luminaries as Bobby Bare, Jr., Railroad Earth, The Damnwells, and Grace Potter. They’ve spent the last three springs stopping by the renowned South by Southwest Festival and were asked by Paste Magazine to make an appearance at 2007’s Austin City Limits. The band has also played at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and even beloved Fenway Park in Boston. This summer, Oneside will be gracing the stages of California’s High Sierra Music Festival as well as Virginia’s Floydfest 2008.
“Sing us a song before we say goodbye
All good peoples’ hopes, they had to try
Hey! It’s all over now”
“First, to Last” was recorded mainly between the hours of 10 P.M. and 7 A.M. Like a troubadour howling at the moon after a night on the town, the late nights and early mornings can be heard in the grooves, with lead singer Ned DeBary’s earnest and soulful voice effectively bridging the gap between Americana and indie rock. If My Morning Jacket decided to cover Bill Monroe, chances are that it would come out sounding an awful lot like Oneside. And for music fans, that’s a good thing.