Three-piece Brooklyn outfit Oneida are quirky art/rock dudes. Hanoi Jane, Kid Millions and Bobby Matador play music that can be thrilling one minute and an admirable yet pretentious headache the next. This is personal “iPod tune out” shit. Not music to be shared at a dinner party unless you’re serving shrooms as an appetizer. The boys describe their seventh album, Wedding, as a “baroque pop extravaganza.” To me it’s “backseat of the Camaro” raunchy metal meets John Cale “experimenza” pretty.
On the first song “The Eiger” Jane sings all hippy and fey to the lovely strings that stride along to the bad high-school poetry. “Pretty little German girl/ The Eiger is a whole wide world.” “Lavender” has plucky guitars and muscle drums that kick sand in the face of the weak lyrics. “The old men love me while I braid my pubic hair.”
There are pleasures to be had but the album as a whole didn’t draw me in. It has a silly illusive kraut-rock feel (icky visions of mystical wizards in tight red leather pants) that seems to intrigue and amuse stoner college kids. I did love the dazzling one minute and 45-second “Know” with its subtle twists and turns. But the album’s jarring experimental twists and turns are a whole other story.
Austin quartet Spoon has just released a flawless pop firecracker called Gimme Fiction (their fifth). There is natural sharpness to it. Every song has a majestic soul and struts its confidence – chin up in a peacock suit. A slick glorious bitch it is with its “little red riding hood and the big bad wolf” tension.
Funky hipness happens on “I Turn My Camera On.” Take The Rolling Stones’ “Emotional Rescue,” throw in a dash of Franz Ferdinand/Outkast smart-ass, and you have a sly bump-and-grind delight. Singer Britt Daniel’s sexy coos (in a higher register than usual) are cucumber cool. “You hit me like a tom/ It hit me like a tom/ On and on a tom.”
“Sister Jack” is all crunchy guitars, shotgun drums with ecstatic beats and emphatic words. “And they say relax/ But I can’t be a man this far down on the map.” “They Never Got You” has a healthy jaunty rhythm that builds with aggressive high hat, guitars and creepy cool synth. Daniel (with his head hanging low) sings, “I’ll roll it myself or just let it be/ Cause I never got them and they never got me.”
The album examines the angst and confusion of the young artist and his or her place in the world – but it’s always everyman relatable. It knows the meaning will get lost if things get all quirky experimental (Oneida, hello). It’s as close to perfection as an album can get.