This three-song sampler of the new band ONS has definitely got a groove going on. ONS (I have no idea what that stands for or means) describe themselves as alternative, electro, and funk, and although the music has these influences (including a lyric about “special sauce”), the simplicity and catchiness could also make at least one of these tunes a pop hit.
ONS is a two-man band consisting of Jeremy Toback and Herb Graham, Jr. – or, as it says on their Facebook page, “Special J” and “Herbalicious,” respectively. The names reflect pretty accurately the high level of fun this music has, which shouldn’t be analyzed too deeply or you’d miss the point of enjoying a chill, laidback, yet danceable sound. Still, Toback and Graham know what they’re doing: among other things, singer/songwriter Toback is known as the former bassist of the Pearl Jam side project Brad; and Graham, drummer for the B Sharp Jazz Quartet and also a producer, has a long list of musical contributions.
The sampler starts off with “Shine,” whose opening synths give the song a kind of sci-fi feel – or maybe it’s just an LA sound, especially as the lyrics “I need to love you like the sun needs to shine” bring to mind a dry, desert region. Actually, each song has its catch-phrase lyric that gets repeated over and over in a kind of romantic, dreamy way. The second song, “Hey Sweetness,” is arguably the best of the three, unraveling into a kind of mellow revelry with the lyrics “Hey Sweetness, stars shine all around us.” Finally, “Big Bold Sun” continues with the same highly produced sound, but is probably the simplest of the three songs.
While there are only a handful of chord progressions over the course of these songs, the repetition isn’t annoying, but instead kind of puts you into a pleasant daze that makes you want to slip into that ethereal desert scene on the cover of this release.