Songwriter Tara Jane O'Neil dove into her musical career in 1992 at the tender age of 20, playing bass for the influential Louisville, Kentucky art punk ensemble Rodan. Though the group lasted only two years, releasing just one full-length, O'Neil's status had grown enough to land her a prominent role in the film Half-Cocked, a fictitious account of a Louisville punk band featuring faces from several other bands such as June of 44, the Grifters, and Rachel's, but a lasting connection was made between O'Neil and Ruby Falls guitarist Cynthia Nelson. O'Neil and Nelson formed Retsin and released several long-players between 1995 and 2001, including a 1998 collaboration with Ida titled The Ida Retsin Family Album, Vol. 1. Both O'Neil and Nelson stayed busy outside of Retsin during this period; O'Neil, after moving from Louisville to New York City, formed the Sonora Pine (which lasted from 1994 to 1996) and recorded two full-length records, moved back to Louisville, and recorded as a guest on recordings by Danielle Howle and Come.
On top of her hectic musical schedule, O'Neil is also a notable painter. Her paintings, as should be expected, grace each of her solo releases. Back in 2008, O'Neil met Japanese vocalist Nikaido Kazumi in Kyoto, Japan and they became fast friends — despite the fact that they don't share a spoken language. One afternoon with friends Geoff Soule and Norio Fukuda and a slew of stringed and primitive percussion instruments, they cut four hours of improvisations. In the spring of 2010, O'Neil returned to Japan — Kobe this time — and the previous sessions were built upon with slightly different instruments and electronic effects. In order to communicate ideas, the pair used paintings, drawings, and handclaps. They completed the Tara Jane O'Neil/Nikaido Kazumi album, which was released in the spring of 2011 on K Records. In 2014, O'Neil returned with Where Shine New Lights, her seventh proper full-length and first for new label Kranky. In 2017, O'Neil partnered with Gnomonsong, an independent label co-founded by Devendra Banhart, to release her next solo effort, simply titled Tara Jane O'Neil. ~ Gregory McIntosh