Onesie’s debut single “Anemone in Lemonade”

Photo by Mike Petzinger

Even though Onesie began as a name songwriter Ben Haberland used for the desktop file folder holding a clutch of new solo song demos he’d recorded well before teaming up with drummer Josh Inman and bassist Rob Lanterman, the name has stuck since the band’s initial formation one decade ago (happy tensies!) and it’s actually a quite fitting one too seeing as, much like adult onesies, their songs are warm and comfortable if not a bit odd too…

…cuz what’s more warm and comfortable than a shapeless, terrycloth garment complete with handy buttflap in case of emergency and likewise what’s more comfortable than “timeless, obtuse guitar pop in the tradition of Rundgren, Malkmus and Pollard” in Ben’s own words, especially for a certain contingent of indie-rock heads who venerate bands like Guided By Voices and Pavement…

…with Todd Rundgren serving as a sort of fairy godfather to all those making sonically dense and adventurous avant-rock leavened with the machine-tooled songwriting and sticky sweet hooks of AM pop, in other words “peak U.S. indie” from a certain sensibility and hey your writer here was kicking around the LES and BK too back when storied venues like Cake Shop and Trash Bar were regular destinations and how better to analogize this sound than a dense musical pound cake where you can’t tell if those crunchy bits in the frosting are funfetti or toxic chemical filaments which, either way, “trash”…

…but there’s more to onesies/Onesie than mere comfort seeing as both onesies the garment and Onesie the band are totally in-your-face in a way cuz let’s face it, a grown-ass wo/man wearing a garment designed for mewling, drooling infants in public is a fairly bold statement to make that can lead to some discomforting stares not to mention how terrycloth is about the worst fabric imaginable for walking around a hot, dirty city…

…and likewise Onesie the band strike this writer as much more than a mere nostalgia trip of musical comfort food, doing instead what all good stylists do in pushing familiar forms into unexpected new domains which Haberland & Co. do on their new single “Anemone in Lemonade” (released just today!) featuring sweet-and-sour riffage that’s gritty as a cheap packet of lemonade mix…

…leavened with aurally-rendered intrusive thoughts where the music suddenly drifts off into a state of uneasy reverie like a pleasantly languid state of suspended animation that’s also a little unnerving kinda like actual sea anemone (check out 1:09 and 1:57) and as much as I enjoy this song’s gnarly guitars, churning rhythms, and catchy hooks it’s these two slanted/enchanted bits that make the song pop for me while also making the other parts stand out vividly in relief…

…then add in some lyrics about how “when there’s a will there’s a wait” which only reinforces the musical dynamic halfway between momentum and status and a music video that finds hilarity in the singularity with lo-fi, AI-generated graphics and you’ve got a hit on your hands…

…with this the second advance single from Onesie’s third full-length Liminal Hiss which comes out on August 18th on Totally Real Records/Pillow Sail Records/Kool Kat Music, an occasion that’ll be celebrated that evening at The Sultan Room in Bushwick alongside Irrevery and Strange Neighbors so come out and say hello and in the meantime be sure to check out the interesting ‘n’ informative commentary below kindly provided to us by frontman Ben Haberland hisself… (Jason Lee)


On the stylistic qualities and musical influences of “Anemone In Lemonade”:

The song may conjure familiarity—classic ‘90s indie like Pavement and Built To Spill, Midwest emo, or the janglier side of classic rock and Brit Pop, but the band’s stylistic mashing makes them stubbornly hard to pin down, especially when they’re dishing out hooks at this speedy of a clip.

On the title and lyrical themes of “Anemone In Lemonade”:

The title came from playing with language, “anemone” and “lemonade” being phonetic cousins. That created an accidental metaphor of an ocean creature being scooped up and placed in a cramped, tiny space, immersed in unbreathable sweetness. Sort of like you’re moving ahead with your life plan, but still feeling out of place with the clock ticking.

The tone was set for touching on those big middle age moments—marriage, having a kid, starting my own business, wondering if it’s time to leave the city. The opening line “thrilled inaction, some say namaste“ says it all. By the time the band pauses for “orchestration or castration”, you’re not sure if it’s a punchline or a desperate plea.

On the surround socio-cultural context of “Anemone In Lemonade”:

Musically this one is peppy and forward moving, maybe because NYC was [neither of these things] when I was chiseling out these songs. I could at least keep my imagination moving. I recall strumming in an open tuning and stumbling upon a progression that sounded hopeful but sort of…resigned to failure as well. The quiet breakdown came from sliding the same weird shape up and down the neck. It has nothing to do with the rest of the song but I like that it creates a sudden, eerie tension. Then we go into a stadium rock zone with a spacious, crunchy riff. 

On recording “Anemone In Lemonade”:

The song is a good example of something I really wanted to improve this time around—getting the vocals bright, upfront, and punchy in the mix. Producer Gary Atturio and I really tried to match the mood of the song with the vocal takes. We’ve been opening with “Anemone” lately since it’s pretty dynamic and really covers the range of different modes we play in a set.

On the music video for “Anemone In Lemonade”:

The [self-made] video finds the pixelated band members (including Josh Inman on drums and Rob Lanterman on bass) boxed into separate spaces and miming against dozens of nightmarish two second AI-generated videos created from the song’s lyrics or other Onesie-related phrases. As incoherent visual gibberish encroaches from all sides, you might notice a few celeb guest spots—former mayor NYC Mayor Ed Koch battling leprechauns in a mosh pit, Tom Cruise kissing his organ donor clone, a dancing Ted Cruz puppet during the lyrics “A ponzi scheme to be believed”.

The chaos ceases for the quiet parts, but reality is now tinted a dark green. It’s only moments before the beat kicks in and our senses are saturated once again. If AI is soon to be ubiquitous in our lives, you might as well put it to work on a rock video.

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