Marykate O'Neil's music has been described as:
Elvis Costello meets Astrud Gilberto; a *peppy* Aimee Mann meets Matthew Sweet; a female George Harrison; a Capote-esque story teller; and most frequently like herself. The Boston Globe might have said it best (or at least the funniest) when they said: "O'Neil's literate lyrics feature the sort of off-kilter insights Emily Dickinson might make if alive today. After listening to commercial radio, hearing O'Neil sing is like reading Sylvia Path's brutally honest poetry in the wake of watching "American Idol".
While studying philosophy at Boston University, O'Neil ended up singing and playing guitar in the indie-pop outfit piewackit. The band early on landed a deal with I.R.S records and was pulling off shows with Ida, Mary Lou Lord, Juliana Hatfield, Lois, and Elliott Smith. In the midst of recording their second record things fell apart, and O'Neil moved to New York City. Once in Brooklyn, Marykate found herself among a like-minded cast of characters and started writing and recording again.
In 2002, Marykate recorded and released her self-titled debut album, financing the project with pre-approved credit cards. The record caught on among literate pop fans, and reached the top 10 of the CMJ charts. CMJ magazine called the record an 'essential listen' saying, ""If Elvis Costello and Astrud Gilberto swapped spit in another time dimension, singer/guitarist Marykate O'Neil would be the musical spawn of their eros. A doll-faced talent with enough 60's chutzpah and '90's cynicism to spark her own songwriting genre." Rolling Stone gave the record 4 stars and said: "Marykate's skillful melodies and delicate voice are veritable pearls of sweetness. Deeply authentic and original, Marykate has crafted a style with humor and irony intact anchored in daily life." The record was released in Japan, Australia, and throughout Europe. O'Neil toured the US and Europe along with her good friends and fellow songerwriters in tow as her "backing band" --- Jill Sobule and Jim Boggia --- all the while perfecting her Neil Diamond impersonation. Three songs from 'Marykate O'Neil' were covered by Japanese film and television star Tomoyo Harada. Soon after, the Nettwerk music group picked up "Marykate O'Neil" and re-released the album, broadening O'Neil's exposure.
In 2006, O'Neil released "1-800-Bankrupt" which was hailed by Filter magazine as "pure magic" and Venus as "witty, angsty goodness." Also in 2006, O'Neil's song "Mundane Dream" was featured in the Sundance award-winning film "Stephanie Daley" starring Tilda Swinton, Amber Tamblyn, and Timothy Hutton. O'Neil again toured Europe, this time with full band, playing outdoor festivals, basments, radio stations, television shows and scooter ralleys. Performing Songwriter declared, "1-800-damn right! - the record sparkles with classic touches and Marykate's winning vocals are full of tenderness and humor throughout. To paraphrase XTC's Andy Partridge: 'It's really super, Supergirl'."
In 2008, O'Neil released 'mkULTRA' an EP of songs about 'chemistry experiments' ala downtown NYC. mkULTRA made critics 'best of lists' with world cafe live saying: 'O'Neil is a mix of sugar and spice and sometimes everything not so nice'. The weekly dig said: "O'Neil has the unflappable ability to intertwine the sweet and sour like an expert bartender."
Quick on the heals of the mkULTRA, in spring of 2009, Marykate released "Underground" which Blurt called one of the most anticipated records of 2009. According to All Music Guide, "Underground suggests that O’Neil has indeed arrived."