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Oneida - Nice. Splittin’ Peaches

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Artist: Oneida

Album: Nice. Splittin’ Peaches

Label: Ace Fu

Review date: Jan. 5, 2005

Note the bifurcated title. This 23-minute record may only come on CD, but it splits tidily into two very different sides, just like a good old-fashioned vinyl EP. And in the tradition of EPs released by bands that have made a lot of albums, it is at once a rewarding listen and a sideline to Oneida’s main body of work.

The “Nice.” side comprises three thoroughly dissimilar but nicely complementary songs. “Summerland’s” opening ripples of echoed banjo and doomed bass synth switch on the lava lamp, but that’s just bait; messing with heads has always been high on this Brooklyn-based trio’s agenda, this is their most explicit foray into head music to date. The song turns into lurching heavy rock ballasted by guest guitarist Adam Davison’s thick chords, then Gold Sparkle Band saxophonist Charles Waters slits it asunder with rude reed squeals. But Oneida’s knuckles don’t drag for long; “Inside My Head” is an insanely catchy ride on a curling wave of backwards cymbals, ashcan drums, whizzing keyboards, and the chanted refrain that “it’s all fucked up now living inside my head.” For a coda, they wind a McCartney-esque bass melody through a swirl of droning guitars. “Song Y” finishes things by bouncing silvery blue slide guitar licks and yowling vocals upon percolating drum machines that bring to mind Wall Of Voodoo with coyotes gnashing at their gonads.

The “Splittin’ Peaches” side takes a harder road to tripsville. Its sole song “Hakuna Matata” bears down on a single riff for nearly 15 minutes. This tune was a highlight of Oneida’s show in Chicago last summer because the tension the band generated by doggedly banging that riff into the dirt made grown men scream (OK, that’s not so hard to do at a rock show, but you get my drift). The studio version doesn’t measure up; incomprehensively phased vocals and looped banjo don’t just don’t generate the same intensity, and the song wears out its welcome well before it ends. So flip it over and wear that other side out with your dusty stylus, man – that’s what EPs are for!

By Bill Meyer

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