For my final review that I’ll be writing for the foreseeable future, I’m featuring an amazing band with a fascinating name, Onism E. The brainchild of California-born, Texas-raised and now New York City-based singer-songwriter Eline Chavez, the term “Onism” can be defined as “The awareness of how little of the world you will actually experience.” Inspired by groundbreaking female rockers like Joan Jett, Bonnie Raitt and Melissa Etheridge, Eline draws from her experiences living in vastly different places to create her own distinctive style of edgy and soulful indie rock, expressed through her honest, often biting lyrics and fierce vocals.
To help deliver her message, Eline has enlisted three talented Texas musicians – Chris ‘Lefty’ Vargas on guitar, Chris ‘CeeRod’ Rodriguez on bass, and Raj Arenas on drums. The energy and inspiration they contribute helps elevate Onism E to even greater musical heights, and together, their warm, welcoming approach and riveting live performances have enabled them to form a strong positive relationship with their fans. Since the release of their debut single “Love You More” in August 2019, they’ve dropped several more outstanding singles, as well as an album Survivors in February 2021. Now they’re back with a brilliant new single “Lin Manuel“, a song inspired by Eline’s struggles of trying to make it as a musician during the uncertainty of the pandemic.
The song is darkly beautiful and melodic, with a moody, almost progressive vibe. The arrangement and instrumentation are pretty spectacular too. CeeRod lays down a sensuous throbbing bassline, while Raj keeps pace with his flawless drumming that goes from restrained to explosive and back again. Then there’s Lefty’s gorgeous intricate guitar work, which is positively mind-blowing. Wow, this man can play, coaxing shimmery notes, wobbly psychedelic riffs and screaming distortion from his six-string, seemingly with ease. All this incredible music serves as a dramatic backdrop for Eline’s powerhouse vocals, which she delivers with an impassioned conviction that’s downright chilling. “Lin Manuel” is a magnificent track in every sense of the word.
I asked Eline why she chose to name the song after the talented singer-songwriter, composer, playwright and actor, to which she kindly responded: “I’ve always found Lin [Manuel] an inspiring individual. He’s been one of those people that just kept going and working to make his dream happen. As an indie artist, I gravitate towards people like him because his story resonates with me. It’s about the everyday struggle where I question my place in this industry – ‘What am I doing? Should I keep playing? Should I keep working towards this goal?’ I know it’s a common artist struggle but during the pandemic, that voice got louder and I started questioning my next steps. I kept thinking…what would Lin do right now, what would Tom (Petty) or Bruce (Springsteen) do? The answer was always the same. Keep going. Keep writing. Keep believing.”
Those sentiments are beautifully articulated in her poetic lyrics: “Broken glass and shattered ceilings, I’m still waiting for my season they tell me you will one day see. But darkness comes and darkness goes, and I’m still all alone here with my dreams. / Lin Manuel reminded me that freedom comes at a cost for those who believe in. But I’m so scared of failing, I rarely sleep, I rarely sleep. And we’re all just working for better days, but sometimes I wanna scream!“
Purchase on Bandcamp