The Only's - The Eponymous Debut Record

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this evening’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on The Only’s, the stage moniker of the indie rock artist Mark Poseler. His new eponymous debut record was entirely self-recorded, produced, and released; Poseler is a fairly diverse multi-instrumentalist that acted as a one man band for the project. Recorded entirely with real instruments, ‘The Only’s’ doesn’t incorporate any pre-written midis or samples. Thus, how does it stack up against its counterparts in the indie scene right now? Let’s find out by digging into a selection of tracks from the new endeavor.

Right out of the gate, The Only’s production value is impressive considering the album was recorded in a basement and subsequently mixed in an apartment. Granted, most of the music that comes across my desk these days is self-recorded and produced. Very little of it, however, holds to the quality that The Only’s’ album exudes. The first track we’re exploring, for example, is ‘Sing For You,’ a remarkably beautiful piece that incorporates a whole slew of fascinating sonic elements.

‘Sing For You’ starts off as a soft ballad of sorts, one that’s stunningly accented with a sparse acoustic guitar and percussion section. The lyrics are particularly well written as well, and when the tune hits the two minute mark, the track explodes into an anthemic landscape of atmospheric composition. The last minute and a half of ‘Sing For You’ sounds like a Phil Spector production with a dozen musicians - not a guy in his basement.

‘Time Traveler’ takes a very different path; the intensely eclectic track mixes David Bowie-esque experimentation with Queens of the Stone Age-esque fuzz rock. If one was to align a contemporary parallel, ‘Time Traveler’ has the same aura of the latter act’s album from a few years back, ‘... Like Clockwork.’ The piece has a wonderful sense of urgency to it - there isn’t a wasted moment in creating a hard-hitting, rocking soundscape.

In a fairly tactful fashion, ‘Time Traveler’ effortlessly seeps into ‘Bring Me Back,’ a rather surprising track that incorporates The Only’s established rock stylings with some impressively successful hip hop musings. It’s important for indie rockers to establish their uniqueness through a variety of avenues - tracks like ‘Bring Me Back’ concrete The Only’s relevance as an especially fascinating entity.

In contrast to its predecessors, ‘Bad Clark’ does fall short in some capacities. It’s a decent track, one that’s doused in a dark, eerie vocal section, but the instrumentation begins to drone very quickly. ‘Bad Clark,’ while interesting, doesn’t fully craft a captivating experience like ‘Sing For You,’ for example. ‘Shoes,’ however, absolutely does do that, and injects a punkish personality into its presentation that’s reminiscent of some of the Pixies’ more melodic work.

These five tracks are highly encouraging. The Only’s’ sound is absolutely superb, and one would never guess that Poseler crafted it entirely by himself. If the quality of these five tunes is indicative of the larger collection of tracks, it’s a record well worth purchasing and having in your collection!