She tricks you. Her purposefully picked pedals, her slide, her hair in her face. It all adds up to complicated sound, emotions and output. But really TJO is pretty straightforward. That’s what makes her so interesting- her sound is transcendent.

O’Neil deals in sound that is moody, yet pretty. Bells, an echo-ey guitar and a Green Bullet Microphone.

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O’Neil played the Market Hotel in Bushwick last night with Mirah, Air Waves and Tall Firs. It was a diverse line-up but one that melded well together. The bands even shared members. Tall Firs’ drummer Ryan Sawyer played with O’Neil to great affect. Mirah lent vocals to a song.

O’Neil is a veteran of the Pacific Northwest 90s indie scene. It’s pretty obvious in watching her play that she has no reservations, no nerves, no doubts about who she is. It was refreshing.

She only played a few songs, and opened with a strange cover of Cher’s “Believe,” which I felt was too much of a stab at being ironic. It would have worked if the cover sounded better but Cher’s pop-ism didn’t lend itself well to indie translation. Regardless, O’Neil has a way of keeping the audience rapt.

She didn’t play “Drowing,” a great track off her new album, available below.

Air Waves played before O’Neil and were pleasant enough but Tall Firs were the highlight of the night. The three piece band, 2 guitars and a drummer, played straight-forward rock and roll but with a little craziness thrown in. Guitar distortion found a way to squeal out in a few songs, and Ryan Sawyer’s drumming was intense and was not there for rhythm alone.

Tall Firs

Tall Firs

Mirah is cute and delicate. Her songs are like that too. While her voice is bird perfect, and her guitar picking clean and concise, I couldn’t help but feel something was missing. What her songs lacked in emotion, Mirah made up for in character. After nearly every song she had an endearing story to tell.

I love the Market Hotel for shows. The sound isn’t great- i’m pretty sure the girl at the board was a little unsure about a few things- but the vibe is comfortable and fun. Todd P does a good job at applying a few rules, (smoking in the back stairwell only, take a walk around the block and don’t loiter), thus preserving the space for future events.

Tara Jane O’Neil: Drowning

Click the above link.

Tara Jane O’Neil: Drowning