It seems as if culture’s dowsing rod is forever fixing on some new city or other and declaring it cool: Reykjavik one month and Stockholm the next; a year later Melbourne; then Detroit and, more recently, NYC. Or, specifically, Brooklyn.
Lesser talents might argue that they were there first, but such crass proprietary claims are beneath Oneida. Formed as a quartet in 1997 in Williamsburg?then a wasteland of abandoned warehouses and boarded-up basements?they established a vibrant, community-based culture of now-legendary parties that owed more to Warhol’s Factory ‘happenings’ of the ’60s than it did to the Manhattan rock club circuit. Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Liars might subsequently have garnered all the acclaim, but it’s Oneida’s freaky flag that first marked the spot.
Now a trio, Oneida peddle a sound so heroically out of temper with the times that they may as well be a barbershop quartet. Theirs is a maniacal mish-mash of seemingly incompatible musical styles?Krautrock, psychedelia, no-wave, prog, synth-pop, ’70s stoner rock and punk?wrought from a deeply felt, genre-leaping love of challenge.
The anarchic intelligence of Bobby Matador, Hanoi Jane and Kid Millions is the driving force. Inside Oneida’s apparent chaos, though, there are throbbing grooves and enough irresistible keyboard riffs to satisfy diehards. Thus, although the energy of “$50 Tea” suggests Suicide dallying with Beefheart and “Caesar’s Column” recalls both Neu! and Acid Mothers Temple, “Wild Horses” is as gnarly as anything by Neil Young. “Changes In The City” is the closing, 14-minute-plus instrumental wig-out, its title suggesting that although Brooklyn made Oneida what they are, now, the world beckons.