Oneida's Rated O Feels Like a Watershed

Oneida, Rated O (Jagjaguwar)

"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, N.Y., 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 pounding 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.