on and ons let ya cvrLet Your Hair Down – The On and Ons (Citadel)

Short on time? Here's all you need to know in fewer than six paragraphs:

“Let Ya Hair Down” is album number five for The On and Ons and finds them exploring new sonic textures and invoking a slightly tougher approach. The hook-laden song-writing, lockstep playing and uplifting harmonies remain intact, but there’s a sense of the band pushing fresh envelopes, too.

Let’s say that thing that every band hopes/strives for, and declare, without hyperbole, that it’s the best thing The On and Ons have recorded.

If you don’t know already, The On and Ons feature singer/songwriter/guitarist Glenn Morris, his brother Brian (drums and harmony vocals) and bassist Clyde Bramley (bottom end and harmonies). The band is based in Sydney and their combined pedigree includes recording and touring internationally with Hoodoo Gurus, Screaming Tribesmen, Kings of the Sun, and Paul Collins Beat

“Let Ya Hair Down!” continues on from “Calling” (2015), “Welcome Aboard” (2017), “Menacing Smile” (a 2020 mini-album) and “Back For More” (2021).

For those with slightly longer attention spans, here’s what it sounds like.

A bed of keys, touches of bubble-gum and country guitar twang may sound like strange bedfellows but they’re in perfect synch on the title track, which opens the record.

“Sunny Jim” stirs swampy water with some stealthy, Creedence-inspired choogling before Glenn’s keening vocal tips the song into sunny pop.  

“The Savager” is pure rock swagger wearing a Carnaby Street suit and carrying a pop calling card. Glenn’s muscular guitar lines and peppery licks propel the tune while the rhythm section nails things to the floor.

“Games People Play” is arguably the centrepiece of the album. The ‘60s jangle pop that’s always been an influence has never been more apparent and the song is an instant classic.  

Clyde’s bass announces “Run To Tomorrow”, the hardest-edged song of the dozen. Brian stays in the rhythmic pocket. Overdubbed organ and a martial drum pattern punctuate a mid-song change of pace and its outro. The arrangements are thoughtful throughout the album but especially so on this one.

Next is the bustling “Forlorn”, a song that throttles along and then turns on a dime. Glenn gets to show off his chops in the unlikely event of the the band’s trademark harmonies not winning you over.

Glenn’s expansive guitar makes its mark in “Give Me Time” but the song was always going to stake its claim on typical On and Ons territory. That would be pop with power.

Withering fuzz guitar and layered harmonies make “Lovin’ Soul” shine like the simple and simply effective pop rocker it is. Glenn’s lead vocal is nicely understated but ultimately, it’s the sum of its parts.

Brian’s kick drum calls “It’s Not Over” to the party and its piano and vocals recall “Revolver” period Beatles (a descriptor not used lightly) without a hint of larceny. It’s ’60 debt is obvious but it is truly The On and Ons doing their own thing.  

Moody organ and a mellifluous bass-line push “With Your Heart” in a different direction with its lyrical allusion to falling rain and surrendering to love. “Patriot” continues the detour into psych pop, with Brian’s rippling toms punctuating a song that has a more complex structure than its peers. Guitar builds and recedes behind those soaring harmonies.

“Winter Shade” brings the record back to more familiar turf; a call and response vocal and hook in the tail leads to a fade-out.

“Let Ya Hair Down” was mixed and mostly recorded at Sugarplum Studios, Sydney, by Richard Ball, in-house sound engineer at Marrickville Bowling Club, the band’s favourite live music venue. The album was mastered by the legendary Don Bartley of Benchmark Mastering.

If you’ve read this far, there’s just one more thing to do: Click one of the ordering links below.


Buy it from Citadel Mail Order

Buy it on Bandcamp

Album launches at Marrickville Bowling Club with Minuteman on Sunday, April 16 from 4.30pm (free), George Lane,  St Kilda, VIC (double-headliner with Penny Ikinger Band) on Friday May 5  andwith Brando Rising and Penny Ikinger (solo) at Shotkickers in Thornbury, VIC, ) on Saturday, May 6.

Declaration: The Barman has worked with most of the people mentioned above.