Band: Oh My God
Album: The Night Undoes The Work Of The Day
Release Date: September 29, 2009
I first heard about Oh My God by happening upon the final 30 seconds or so of their rockin’ gig at this summer’s Wicker Park Fest. Lead singer Billy O’Neill had his long hair fashioned in pigtail braids, and wore nothing at all save for a teensy pair of shorts.
He may have been barefoot, too.
I’m remiss not to have a photo for you. But alas, I was too far back to snap a good one. By the time I approached the front, Billy and his men had already fled the stage.
However, I dug around a little for ya and have concluded that wacky outfits are Oh My God’s shtick. Ladies and gents, Billy in skimpy shorts and whiteface:
Anyway, the outfits, the crowd’s energy and the lone guitar giff I managed to hear that day had me believing that Oh My God was a special thing.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I spun The Night Undoes The Work Of The Day and heard personal odes instead of the nonsense, gut dumping rock I expected based on that half-minute of show. Oh My God’s music is a lot heavier than I assumed, and also more hushed — on this record, at least.
The Night Undoes The Work Of The Day, the band’s seventh album, seems to be about dead-end men who want a second chance. Or in some cases, a chance at all. Until now, they’ve relied on laziness to get by and lacked the self-esteem to crawl out of their self-induced holes.
Now, they want out.
In most instances, it’s for a girl. Like, I think, in “Baby, Dream”:
She is moonshine and red wine, and milk and honey
I am a gun shy, wife guy, short on money
Anything could happen
Humanity built the pyramids so why not me?
This summer promises to be a hot one
Last summer’s promises I’ve forgotten
I said I’d get my mind together so I killed my TV
Now I’m spending time meaningfully
It’s like, “I know you’re better than me, but give me a freakin’ chance, babe!”
The song that follows it, “My Juliet,” slows down the pacing considerably. It’s minimalist instrumentals paired with Billy O’Neill’s genuine sorrow for things working out the way they did — and him begging for wrongs to be righted.
Poetry is at work here. Take a look:
So here I am reduced to this
Knowing I am my own worst nemesis
Hope you don’t think it cowardice
To ask you to help me
Yes I failed you a thousand times
And been guilty of the coldest crimes
But my pain is not a pantomime
I am so very sorry
If you can forgive me now, my friend
I know I’ll learn to smile again
I’ll learn to let the sun shine in
Two rooms now darkened
“My Juliet” is man at his most broken. A good amount of dependence has been shifted to the woman. Now she’s gone, and Billy’s empty.
I think my favorite track, though, would be “Bring Yourself.” Again, similar themes here. But I like it over the others because of its words, yes, but also the haunting combination of drums, keys and a variety of string instruments. I hear some cello in there (or maybe double bass), and then shrill violins near the end, too.
It’s time for dinner, yet Billy’s not invited to eat. He should better himself — you know, lick his wounds — but he, for whatever reason, can’t.
It’s a chilling track about literally begging for closeness, affinity. He says:
Throw a rope, ring a bell, better still, better still, bring yourself
I love that. Pings are good, but they’re nowhere near the same as the face-to-face. It’s a philosophy I wish we’d all consider.
- Oh My God, based in Chicago, is Billy O’Neill (vocals/bass), Ig (organ/vocals), Michael Caskey (drums) and Zach Verdoorn (bass/guitar/vocals).
- The Night Undoes The Work Of The Day is available on Split Red Records’ website for $12.99 (CD). You can also get the mp3s on iTunes for $9.90.
- Oh My God will play Double Door on October 2 with Blane Fonda and Jonny Rumble. Tickets are $10.
“Bring Yourself” official music video