Review: Onespot, The Difference Between (Self-Released, 2019)

I mentioned the early-'90s incarnation of Baltimore, MD's Onespot Fringehead in the last episode of the Mystery Grab Bag, but wanted to make sure and shout about their new stuff now that I've done some more digging. The band has actually been back at it for much longer than I originally thought, having reunited back in 2013—they've since dropped the "Fringehead" and are now simply Onespot—and released another EP, Songs From the M.L.C.C., back in late-2016/early-2017 (for some reason that one's absent from Bandcamp, but it is on Spotify). They endured a few lineup changes over those years, before releasing The Difference Between toward the end of 2019 (digitally and on pro-duped CD-R).

I've cited Onespot as being a must-hear for fans of Jawbox (my wife sat down and asked if I was listening to Lungfish while I was typing this up, so there's also that), but thinking wider they're generally perfect for any fan of that whole D.C./Maryland/Dischord Records niche of (post-)hardcore/punk or "alternative" whatchamacallit. I was gonna try to save myself a little time and keep this brief, but there are too many great tracks on this EP to pick just one, damnit.

The noisy, winding, surge 'n' skronk of opener "Outside Cigarette"—with its narrative vocal delivery that wiggles between speaking-howling-singing-screaming—simply sets the stage. "Dirty Little Things" carries those influences into an unexpectedly catchy (though no less angular and textured) direction that stands out as a personal favorite; "Never Let Me" gets super quirky and stuttered but also drops some sleek little arpeggiated melodies (and I always fall head-over-heels for that shit); and "Stupid Tragedies" eases up on the pace a bit to dish out some top-shelf post-hardcore dissonance amidst roving basslines and some improvisational-sounding lead melodies (not to mention additional vocal twists with some cool harmonies and background "ooohs").

Strong production, too, with a densely packed mix that pulls the power of the vocals back in against the core rhythmic pulse of the material. Hard copies are housed in black and white pocket sleeves—fairly priced at just $6 for a borderline full-length with its 29:31 running time, mind you.

Nearly three decades later, the band seriously sounds every bit as good as ever. As criminally underappreciated as their output has been since way back in the day, I must commend them for truckin' on in any capacity. If I can get even three or four people to stumble onto how fuckin' good this is, I'll be happy. There's almost no way in hell you'll be disappointed if you've ever been a fan of this general realm of the genre. Check 'em out and tell a friend, yeah?

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