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Secret Wars

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Album Review

Oneida's sixth full-length LP, Secret Wars is a strong indie rock album that may be the band's best yet. The sound is huge and intimate all at once; the songs have hooks and staying power. Calling on references like classic German art rock such as Can and Kraftwerk, sonic terrorists like Sonic Youth, and '60s garage rock icons like the Electric Prunes, the band crafts a sound that is obviously in debt to the past, but alive and well in the here and now. The opening track, "Treasure Plane," is a welcoming, warm blanket of guitars and keys with a quiet whisper of vocals sounding a bit like the sadly forgotten Das Damen. Once Oneida welcomes you in with an almost pop song, the band proceeds to make your head spin as it charges from one wild experiment to another. Along the way there is the hypnotic Germanic groove of "Caesar's Column," the stuttering synth punk of "Capt. Bo Dignifies the Allegations With a Response," the strange tape manipulations of the psych-folk "The Last Act, Every Time," and "The Winter Shaker," which is five minutes of the same howling guitar-pounding drum loop played over and over. It goes from interesting to annoying to kind of cool in that time and shows that the group is still as dedicated to experimentation as ever. For a change of pace, the band dips its toe — or more like its whole foot — into stoner rock on the nodding "Wild Horses," which features a truly dumb guitar solo and an oddly poignant chorus. The album ends with a 14-minute psych-stoner jam, "Changes in the City," that will peel the paint off the skull of anyone who makes it through the whole track. Let's just say it ain't the Allman Brothers. Secret Wars is an indie rock album that isn't afraid to take chances and dare the listener to follow Oneida through its obstacle course of sound. It is a throwback to the late '80s/early '90s in that respect, before punk broke and before alternative spoiled. If those were your glory days, then this is an album you'll want to check out. If you weren't there at the time, this is as close as you are going to get anytime soon.


Formed: 1997 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Brooklyn's genre-defying Oneida take their primary cues from '60s garage and punk bands (especially MC5), but throw in plenty of heavy, bluesy '70s stoner rock (think Blue Cheer, Foghat, etc.) plus dashes of jerky synth pop, avant-garde jazz, and Krautrock. Originally featuring guitarist/vocalist Papa Crazy (aka PCRZ), keyboardist Bobby Matador (aka Fat Bobby), drummer Kid Millions, and bassist/guitarist Hanoi Jane (aka Baby Jane), the group made a name for itself in the New York area by virtue of...
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Secret Wars, Oneida
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