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Marykate O'Neil

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Album Review

It's easy to get stuck in a rut within certain genres (female-fronted folk-pop and Byrds-y power pop are both treacherous examples), which is why the eponymous debut from Marykate O'Neil is so entertaining. O'Neil successfully welds both of the aforementioned subgenres into a seamless whole, and that's where this album gets its charm — simply because, while it seems so obvious, very few actually do it, or do it well. O'Neil is the protégée of sorts of Jill Sobule (who produced and co-wrote most of this album and is one of the few others to produce a similarly successful fusion in the '90s), and her tendency to craft smart, lyrically compelling songs manifests itself all over this disc. In fact, the list of contributors to this disc reads a bit like a who's who of the power pop world: Dennis Diken of the Smithereens, Mike Deming of the Pernice Brothers, Brad Jones, Pat Buchanan, Ross Rice, and more all pitch in. A lot of the album is gentle, acoustic fare — the opening "Hudson," the wistful "U-Haul" — but a lot is also bouncy guitar pop, too, like "Mundane Dream." And the songs are woven together into a mini-concept album of sorts about moving out of your hometown and into the big city. Once again, that isn't particularly revolutionary, but that isn't the point, either. The real centerpiece is O'Neil's vocals; she tends a remarkably restrained style, her purring and sighing acting as the perfect accompaniment for her modest music. The touches of modest genre-shifting only enhance this, elevating it from a simple "guitar pop" or "folk" record and into something more interesting. And as if that weren't enough, O'Neil tosses a modest cover of the Spice Girls' "Stop" — one of their very best songs — right into the middle of the running order. Using her slightly bookish sensibility, warm vocals, keen sense of humor, and understanding of what makes a good pop song, O'Neil has crafted a winning debut that's alternately pretty and infectious.

Customer Reviews

Marykate O'Neil is amazing

Mrykate O'Neil is an amazing singer. I am a relative of her and as well as a really good friend. Her song 'Hudson' is named after Hudson, Massachusetts 01749, the birthplace of Marykate.


Genre: Pop

Years Active: '00s

Marykate O'Neil was born and raised in New England, where she spent many hours in front of the television developing her obsession with pop culture. She was the singer/songwriter for Piewackit, a Boston band that managed to score a deal with IRS Records before a move to California wrecked the band after the release of its debut. O'Neil moved to New York City and started writing songs again,...
Full Bio
Marykate O'Neil, Marykate O'Neil
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