The Onlymen
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The Onlymen

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"Warren Bishop - Gearhead"

Local singer-songwriter Warren Bishop wears his So-Cal roots proudly on his sleeve on the first cut of his solo album Gearhead, a largely autobiographical Ramones-meets-NRBQ number titled “Anaheim.” From there, the mood shifts to dark on “My Life,” the first of five cuts co-produced by the dark lord himself, David Houston, but “Happiest Unhappy Girl” gets things back on the sunny side. Four other cuts were co-produced with the Kimberly Trip’s Jeffry Wynne Prince. If there’s a problem here, it’s that Bishop cutting sides with three different producers makes this CD sound more like a collection of demos than a cohesive project. The best track is “Shadows,” with its Pete Townshend solo-project vibe. The least best is the ska-like number “Take Linda Home.” Overall, it’s a nice look at a talented guy. - Sacramento News and Review


"Birthday Party Pop"

“C’mon everybody! Put your hands together!”

Accompanied by a hands-off-the-guitar, over-the-head, jumping-jack handclap, that admonition is a staple, a cliché if you will, of live performance. By the time Warren Bishop got around to it Saturday night, his band the Only Men was midway through its opening set at the Fox & Goose.

The occasion was Bishop’s birthday, and while he probably doesn’t want his age trumpeted, let’s just say that he’s outlived Kurt Cobain times two. Playing at the far end of the restaurant section of the venerable downtown pub, whose high ceiling creates an acoustic problem for whoever is running the sound board (in this case, Kevin Seconds), the Only Men--until recently known as the Holy Men--pumped out a set of guitar-guitar-bass-drums original power pop. It was solid on the instrumental side but occasionally experimented, albeit unintentionally, with vocal harmonic concepts outside the conventional 12-tone Western system. Part of the blame for that might be pinned on a crummy monitor mix and the venue’s clattery acoustics.

Despite the enduring popularity of the Beatles, power pop--with its emphasis on the get-in-get-out time constraints found on old hit singles and straightforward narratives that, topically, tend to favor close mixed-gender relationships--isn’t the quickest route to fame and fortune in the music business, especially for club bands. As longtime local music fan Mike West, himself a few years Bishop’s senior, put it, “I told Warren that if he wanted packed houses, he should start a jump-blues band.”

But Bishop’s band does what it does, without that moistened-finger-in-the-wind career planning that makes some musicians segue from goth rock to jump blues to country. Bishop, who looks kinda like a permed version of one of his heroes, the New Rhythm and Blues Quartet’s Terry Adams, was joined by fellow guitarist and occasional singer Todd Weber, bassist Larry Cox and new drummer Chris Amato, playing numbers from the Holy Men album Gearhead, along with several more recent songs. And the turnout wasn’t bad. - Sacramento News and Review


"Trust Your Ears"

Another local disc worth mentioning is Noise Machines by Citrus Heights trio the Onlymen. Singer-guitarist Warren Bishop has a knack for writing catchy guitar pop tunes that evoke the spirit of the late, lamented über-bar band NRBQ, and the 10 songs here—with Bishop joined by bassist Larry Cox, drummer Mani Kontokanis and sometimes-guitarist Todd Weber—exude melodic energy in a post-Buddy Holly-innocent kind of way, even when the subject matter is serious, like “College 0, Baghdad 1.” And the harmony vocals sound like Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac on steroids - Sacramento News and Review


Discography

Noise Machines - Available now at CDBaby.com and ITunes store!

Gearhead - Warren Bishop solo album that features Onlymen bassist Larry Cox, playing and producing the song "Anaheim". Available at CDBaby.com

Photos

Bio

Things change fast these days in pop culture; just when you think you know what’s cool the rules change. It almost seems like we’re all living in that scene from the original “Time Machine” movie, trapped in Rod Taylor’s lap watching the world change in speeded up action.

There are always some things that cycle around, though: In pop music it’s the tradition of smart song writing a catchy hooks that are brand new but somehow familiar in a nice comfortable fuzzy way. The haircuts may change and the guitars might be a little buzzier, but you can draw a straight line from Buddy Holly through The Beatles into The Ramones into Nirvana right up to bands like Guided By Voices and Fountains of Wayne.

Standing right along that line are The Onlymen. Featuring the song writing of longtime Sacramento guitarist Warren Bishop, The Onlymen use vintage means to make a modern noise. Along with Warren, the band features Larry Cox (formerly of Plate) on bass guitar, Todd Weber on rhythm guitar, and Kevin Gailey on drums.

It’s a good noise ... you really should hear it some time.