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Oneida: Rated O

Oneida: Rated O

Release Date:2009

By Lee Gardner | Posted 8/26/2009

"So why isn't Oneida as big as Gang Gang Dance or TV on the Radio?" "Well, 15-minute songs." Good point, that. Still, the Brooklyn, NY, trio's tendency to stretch out is a big part of what makes Rated O feel like a watershed. There aren't many (any?) indie-ish rock bands of whom it can be said that their 11th full-length is their best, especially given that said full-length comes out to much more than "full length"--nearly two solid hours of music spread across three CDs or LPs. Yet Oneida makes the most of what amounts to an ocean of time in the single-serving download age with an epic, largely instrumental sprawl that refines old tricks and introduces new ones.

Rated O clears its throat with lead-off track "Brownout in Lagos," a woofer-rattling electro thump shot through with hallucinatory dubby vocals and synth squiggles. The rest of the first disc/LP incorporates everything from IDM bleep ("What's Up, Jackal?") to trance-like New Order/DFA-lovechild Eurodisco ("10:30 at the Oasis") without leaving live-band jams behind. It ends with bellowing dirge "The Human Factor," sure to be the fish/cut bait point for day trippers. Oneida's roots as a somewhat smirky garage-psych unit reemerge in Rated O's central section, wherein Baby Hanoi Jane, Bobby Matador, and Kid Millions essay intent variations on the sort of churning, organ-fueled avant-biker-rock that made their modest name, layering ghostly harmonized incantations over minimalist pound and frantic riffing. A touch of sitar gives the slow-billowing narcotic drone opening "O" an almost tongue-in-cheek flavor at first, but the suite-like final disc/LP vaults beyond pastiche into an increasingly urgent rave-up that takes its place in the grand continuum of psych/Kraut/drug-rock mind-blows without aping any of its predecessors directly. Clearly, the band's peers are now the Boredoms as much as their outer-borough cohorts.

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