Girl Goth rock group, Only You, doesn’t play nice
In popular music, the phrase “Only You” dates back to 1955, when The Platters harmoniously wooed listeners with its sentimental doo-wop hit “Only You (And You Alone).” Several covers of the song have sprung up since—from Ringo and John’s folky ’70s rendition, to Reba McEntire’s country version—but it wasn’t until three months ago that “Only You” became the moniker of an all-female surf rock and dream pop quartet.
Only You channels the passion and sincerity of The Platters, under the leadership of Los Angeles native Rachel Fannan, a former employee at Streetlight Records, who is better known for contributing vocals to the San Francisco-based psychedelic rock band Sleepy Sun.
For Fannan, “‘Only You’ is a classic, classic old school bop ballad—a romantic-ass song. That is the sentiment that I want to portray.”
In order to recreate that feeling for listeners, Fannan teamed up with bassist Micayla Grace, formerly of the Bay Area band Leopold and his Fiction, which toured with Sleepy Sun a few years back. During that time, Fannan was also a member of an all-girl a cappella group with Cecilia Della Peruti, now playing second guitar alongside Fannan. To ultimately fulfill Fannan’s vision of being “not just pop punk, not just two chords, washed out, reverbed stuff,” but more like “Led Zeppelin meets The Beatles meets The Cure,” the band needed a drummer—and they were eager to find a female one.
During a trial run one day, Lia Braswell snagged the coveted position. “Lia played through the set and it was love at first sight,” Fannan remembers. The members quickly realized their involvement in the band was far from limited; Only You allowed for “more input, more freedom, more love, more girl power, [and] more lady vibes,” says Fannan.
Onstage, however, the aforementioned “lady vibes” sound anything but ladylike. Only You songs are mostly loaded with haunting Goth rock instrumentation and vocals, albeit still danceable and part of the surf rock genre. On “Applying Myself,” you can feel the weight of Braswell’s crashing cymbals combined with Fannan’s pensive and penetrating voice as she repeatedly confesses “I can’t feel anything.” Fannan effortlessly stretches out the syllables to the point that each one lingers in the ears and tugs at the heartstrings just as the bass and electric guitar strings are plucked.
Fannan welcomes the opportunity to utilize her voice in a way that is entirely different from either her Sleepy Sun or solo endeavors. “In Only You, I’m trying to forge a new David Bowie-meets-Stevie Nicks vibe—they had a lot of power and character and purity to their voices,” Fannan explains.
As for Only You’s upcoming debut album—which will most likely be a self-titled EP once the band finishes scouting for a label—Fannan offers, “I think the album is all about making strong emotions sexy. I would say the vibe of the music is about really celebrating the darkness of emotion and the strength of emotions. It can be scary, but a better word is ‘thrilling’ and ‘riveting’—all of the emotions you feel when faced with something that is overwhelming to you. I really try to wave it like a flag. It’s OK to feel like this. It’s the most powerful shield to be able to feel what you’re feeling.”
On Wednesday, Jan. 25, Fannan takes that musical philosophy to The Crepe Place, where Only You will perform alongside soul trio Blackstrap Molasses, from Indio, Calif. “We want to keep it heavy,” she says. “We want to really sink people’s hearts … [to have them] feel a groove and feel an emotion because they feel inspired by the music to feel those things and do things.”
Only You plays at 9 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 25, at The Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $8/adv, $10/ door. For more information, call 429-6994.