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Oneida: Secret Wars



Album: Secret Wars
Label: Jagjaguwar

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A murk-minded band on the weirder edges of the New York music scene, Oneida plays monolithic rock that twists in the same wind it blocks. The group has become notorious for churning out 14-minute jams–all psychedelic '60s fuzz, '70s muscle, and krautrock grist–though it also has a way of sneaking subtlety into spaces that wouldn't seem to invite it. Secret Wars clamors like past Oneida albums dating back to 1997, but it also shows a band mellowing out without losing its charge. The record charts the noisy outgrowths of layered organ, guitar, and drums that rise up and lie back on cue, but "Treasure Plane" and "$50 Tea" maintain melodic shape even when they're pummeled like punching bags. The former makes it easy, wandering through a near-melody pitched toward Sonic Youth, but the latter makes a feat of it as it speeds through ray-gun stabs and warped vocal chants. While reference points stretch from '60s Pink Floyd to '70s tribal stomper Amon Düül to aching '80s drone troupe Spacemen 3, Oneida's din blocks out as much of the past as it leaves in. The organ bounce in "Capt. Bo Dignifies The Allegations With A Response" sounds as rooted in arcades as it does in strobe-lit acid parties, and the tweaked madrigal guitar swirl in "The Last Act, Every Time" sounds like a nod back to an old rock movement that hasn't happened yet. Oneida has never occupied marquee status in the indie-rock scene it haunts, but Secret Wars shows a band making the most of making its own way.