Oneida | Happy New Year (Jagjaguwar/Brah)

Never content to stay in one place too long, Brooklyn’s Oneida have developed a well-deserved reputation for continuous experimentation.

 


Never content to stay in one place too long, Brooklyn’s Oneida have developed a well-deserved reputation for continuous experimentation. Also, for the most part, Oneida is not going to be accused of making the same the same album twice. Since unloading their debut LP in 1997, Oneida have followed up with a staggering six full-length releases, along with an additional seven EPs. With Happy New Year, these Brooklynites up the LP count to eight in the course of nine years.

Described as a testament to the ever-changing landscape of their home base and of their own musical evolution, Happy New Year is self-described as “a record to mark the end of an era in Brooklyn music and to celebrate the rebirth of idealism in a harsh climate of profiteering.” Featuring several guest musicians, including the newly christened Oneidian Phil Manley (Fucking Champs, Trans Am), HNY picks up in the terms of quality where 2005’s The Wedding left off. However, this time around, Oneida presents tunes that are more cohesive in style, resulting in a far less schizophrenic record.

Opening with the monotonous harmonization of “Distress,” Oneida quickly shifts into their genre-defying mish mash—think psychedelic krautrock as an approximation—with the album’s title track. However, the album does not pick up steam until “The Adversary” and the disc’s killer seven-minute centerpiece “Up With People.” It should come as no surprise, especially with Manley as a guest musician, that both cuts have an uncanny resemblance to Trans Am. After the subsequent “History’s Great Navigators” and its subtle Middle-Eastern flavor, HNY’s tempo slows rapidly with five rather low-key numbers. With the exception of “You Can Never Tell,” the remainder of Happy New Year, while not as memorable and catchy as its first half, is sturdy nonetheless. Oneida’s new disc doesn’t quite reach the emotive qualities of The Wedding, though it’s an excellent addition to the band’s expansive catalog.

 


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