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Oneida



They come not from the 18th century utopian village or the Indian Nation in upstate New York, these kids who call themselves Oneida, but from a squalid basement apartment in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, where they have learned to rock in a positively terrifying fashion. Nobody seems able to agree on just who they sound like when they rock this way, though the great MC5 are frequently mentioned. There's also a clear parallel to the New York Dolls, given that these kids are also flamboyant characters who play noisy damaged rock in New York. They've got a bit in common with the 13th Floor Elevators, who they've been known to cover. The thing is, you could compare Oneida to just about anyone loud, violent, and a bit perverse -- Devo, The Birthday Party, The Stooges, Girls Against Boys -- and you'd be right on. Just like you could call them garage rock, art-punk, No Wave, or psycho-delic, and you'd have hit the nail on the head.

Basically, Oneida takes every available idiom of hedonistic rock excess and rolls them all into one. So they're eclectic. And loud. Eclectically loud. Papa Crazee's tortured guitars screech and wail, farting out horrifying squalls of feedback, while the rhythm section (Kid Millions and Hanoi Jane) prances like an old queen in a feather boa. Distorted keyboard lines courtesy of Bobby Matador lurch and tumble alongside, sometimes coherently, usually not. Crazee howls vocals with the foamy-mouth fervor of a meth addict who needs to smoke not one, not two, but three cigarettes at once.

Oneida's been in the business of terrifying the trust fund-toting Brooklyn newbies since the late '90s. They've given us four LPs thus far. Their first two were A Place Called El Shaddai's (1997) and Enemy Hogs (1999) on the now-defunct Turnbuckle label. With that second record, since reissued on Jagjaguwar, Oneida truly began to realize the wide-ranging warped vision that has made their subsequent albums such fascinatingly deranged treats. Perhaps this is because the band recorded it with the help of a batch of bathtub acid they made from a vintage recipe found in the local library. For anyone who likes their rock insane, Enemy Hogs is required listening, lurching all over the map from '60s proto-punk to Blue Cheer-inspired heavy rock to woozy psychedelic drone to paranoid Suicide-derived New Wave punk, with this manic jazzy trumpet going nuts on a handful of tracks.

After that came the Steel Rod EP, followed promptly in 2000 by the 12-cylinder explosion of their third LP, the aptly titled Come On Everybody Let's Rock, which showed that Oneida had truly perfected their warped, hallucinatory, and very loud style of sludge-psych.

In 2001, the busy band came back with another dozen power-rock ball-busters, under the title Anthem of the Moon (perhaps a play on The Dead's jam-psych classic Anthem of the Sun?). The ghosts of Roky Erickson and his 13th Floor Elevators continue to haunt Oneida -- often in spectacular fashion (check out "All Arounder") -- and you might sniff out some traces of Captain Beefheart, Love, and Foghat in one corner or another of the album. What's especially interesting about Anthem of the Moon is that it's a concept album of sorts, created in tandem with nocturnal field recordings the band made during trips to the ruins of a Colonial-era village in Western New England. So the creepy ambience that seems to seep up through the breaks in the music is for real -- that's the stones talking, man!