Oneida incorporate straight-ahead rock vibes into their expansive sound on SuccessSteve Krakowon August 18, 2022 at 5:00 pm

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Brooklyn is so closely associated with the American cultural zeitgeist of the early 2000s that it’s easy to forget how newly “cool” the borough was at the time. During Oneida’s late-90s infancy, the freak rockers would be met with bemusement when they told music journalists they were from Brooklyn. “People would laugh—Brooklyn was not hip,” says Oneida drummer Kid Millions. Fast forward a couple decades, and the bandmates have largely been priced out of the neighborhood, just like fellow longtime residents and starving-artist types in similarly hip locales around the country. The cost-of-living problem is exacerbated because some have started families: Millions is raising his kiddos in the Woodhaven area of the Bronx (“near a park with trees!”), while keyboardist Fat Bobby has relocated to Boston. For several years now, any time the band has reconvened has been an event worth celebrating. The current lineup consists of Millions (who also leads Man Forever and has played with Royal Trux, Spiritualized, and the Boredoms) and Fat Bobby (also of Oneida side project People of the North) as well as guitarists Hanoi Jane (of postpunkers New Pope) and Shahin Motia (formerly of Ex Models, currently of Knyfe Hyts) and synth player Barry London (you must hear his old project Jäh Division).

Millions describes Oneida’s brand-new album, Success (Joyful Noise), as having a bit more “straight-ahead” rock sound than previous material, name-checking Jonathan Richman, the Velvet Underground, and the guitar pop associated with New Zealand’s Flying Nun label. All those influences can be heard on lead cut “Beat Me to the Punch,” but in true Oneida fashion, it turns a simple, shambly riff reminiscent of the Clean or the Chills into something sinister—the tune erupts into blasted-and-wasted howls of feedback, a la the Velvets’ “I Heard Her Call My Name.” I also hear traces of New Zealand in the catchy “I Want to Hold Your Electric Hand,” the abrasive, churning “Rotten,” and the fuzzed-out “Opportunities.” The long-form “Low Tide” grows more manic and cacophonous as it unfolds (with a touch of Joy Division and maybe some Daydream Nation-era Sonic Youth), then gives way to Fat Bobby’s signature key pulses. “Paralysed” and “Solid” conjure the Oneida of yore, channeling the metronomic Krautrock pulse pioneered by Faust and Can; they add expansive synth textures and guitar squeals, and the latter ramps up the aggression with snarly multitracked vocals and pure rockist triumph.

Oneida’s Success is available through Bandcamp.

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