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Music Review: Oneida – Happy New Year

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With the release of Happy New Year I can say with unabashed certainty that I am a huge Oneida fan. Formed in 1997, this Brooklyn band sticks to no specific genre. They mix Rock, neo-psychedelia, stoner metal, and garage punk to create some great music.

Happy New Year is Oneida’s eighth full-length studio album and it also represents their most complete and put together album to date. Many of the tracks have the feel of the psychedelic rock of the 1960’s. The late Syd Barrett and Arthur would undoubtedly appreciate the intertwined melodies and happy paranoia that Oneida makes use of here.

On other songs Oneida use an acoustic guitar sound to create 1960’s sounding pop. “Busy Little Bee” is based on that acoustic sound. I’m sure if this was circa 1967 or so, the song would be rocketing up the pop charts. The trio even has vocal harmonies that remind me of the arrangements found on some Jefferson Airplane records.

As enjoyable as all of this is, it may be the reason that Oneida hasn’t been able to expand their underground following. The bands lyrics aren’t really important. You can listen to the record and it’s the beat and rhythm that catch you; the lyrics are virtually unnoticeable. In today’s pop driven radio, sing-along lyrics are important and Happy New Year won’t fit that bill.

One of the things I like best about Oneida’s latest album is its musical versatility. Oneida visits heavy synth-rock on “Up With People.” At over seven minutes, this track is perfect for a rave. The unwavering beat will keep the crowd moving. The funky beat of “The Misfit,” the odd vocal styling’s on “Pointing Fingers” establish the group as a standout entity capable of creating some truly inspired works. Fans of psychedelic music and 1960’s pop will find Oneida’s Happy New Year one of the best releases of 2006 thus far.

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About Rebecca Wright

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