Nagisa Ni te (aka Shinji Shibayama and Masako Takeda) are back. Their new record The Same As A Flower, recorded between 2002 and the beginning of this year, is the third to be released by Jagjaguwar. Much like on previous records, the songs on the new record by this Osaka, Japan-based group are about nature, about the singularity of two people immersed in nature together, and about experiencing life as “being”, not “becoming” or “recovering from”. And like their previous full-length record, Feel, The Same As A Flower still brings to mind the very best of sixties’ and seventies’ psychedelic, progressive and folk rock (i.e. middle-era Roy Harper, Pink Floyd, 13th Foor Elevators and early Neil Young). Maher Shalal Hash Baz’s Tori Kudo may describe Nagisa Ni te best when he says: “Nagisa Ni te’s naked Progressive rock-based worldly songs, which are sung not so much deliberately as seriously, on their love beach, now fill a blank somewhere between underground hi-fi and overground lo-fi.” Also of note, Dominquie Leone of Pitchfork wrote: “Well before mystic folk became fodder for VW commercials, Shibayama was conjuring up the spirits of Tim Buckley and Tim Hardin to the delight of the Japanese psychedelic scene.”
Here is the Nagisa Ni te story: in the beginning Shinji Shibayama performed "hyped up dada-psych" in the early 1980's as part of Idiot O'Clock and then the more toned-down Hallelujahs. He also founded and still runs Org Records, the label responsible for bringing Eastern psych powers Maher Shalal Hash Baz to the world. With Maher Shalal Hash Baz's help, with the musical contributions of many of their collective friends, and with the assistance of Shibayama's now full-fledged cohort Masako Takeda in all things Nagisa Ni te, Shibayama recorded and released On The Love Beach, a beautiful, slow and entrancing work pulling equally from American and British rock traditions. Thus was born Nagisa Ni te, which means "on the beach" in Japanese, an homage of sorts to Neil Young's 1975 masterpiece. Their psych folk tendencies notwithstanding, Nagisa Ni te also did well to take cues from the avant rock world around them at the time, comfortably implementing the minimalist credo "less is more" throughout this record.Though On the Love Beach was Nagisa Ni te's debut, it is the second Nagisa Ni te record brought to the United States and Europe by Jagjaguwar. It follows Feel, their most recent endeavour, which garnered significant critical acclaim in the press. And like Feel, it does bring to mind the very best of sixties' and seventies' psychedelic, progressive and folk rock (i.e. early to middle-era Pink Floyd, George Harrison, Crazy Horse, and Roxy Music). Maher Shalal Hash Baz's Tori Kudo may describe Nagisa Ni te best when he says: "Nagisa Ni te's naked Progressive rock-based worldly songs, which are sung not so much deliberately as seriously, on their love beach, now fill a blank somewhere between underground hi-fi and overground lo-fi."
The Blue Depths is an album for warmer places, a balmy haze habitat for headphone meanderings. This is a dream world where Neil Young and Jimmy Webb float in the reverb-saturated summer breeze. The solemn harmonies of “Moonlight/Twilight” drift between sheets of stirring bowed bass murmur as shimmering guitar notes ebb and flow underneath. Bursts of yearning harmonica arc over ethereal soundscapes in “The Case Of The Great Irish Elk.” The jubilant piano of “Harmless Lover’s Discourse” gives way to the most enticing pop moment of the album, a soaring bed of synth propelled by a driving bass line and vibrant rhythms.
Through the hollow vision of centuries of reputable texts and celebrated celebrity and American pulp fiction, journeys have always been epic. And so Southern Indiana's own Odawas mine these territories in their debut full-length "The Aether Eater". It is a sort of conventional journey. One which Neil Young may have taken in his early Buffalo Springfield days. This journey has a beginning, an end, and an epochal disposition. It takes a Camus-type anti-hero and hurtles him into space to watch him mock and finally humble himself before it (but of course, in the most discrete way possible). Odawas are nicking all over the place: from Randy Newman's plain-spoken grandeur or Beach Boy story-telling or Angelo Badalamanti's cheesy romanticism or Charles Ives' avant-garde ear or Art Garfunkel's "presence-of-a-blue-whale" harmonies.
In celebration of the ten-year anniversary of this iconic album, Jagjaguwar is proud to present the Black Sheep Boy 10th Anniversary Edition, a three-LP set combining the classic Black Sheep Boy album and its counterpart the Black Sheep Boy Appendix with an all new unreleased album entitled There Swims a Swan: full-band recordings made six months prior to the release of Black Sheep Boy which illuminate the album's roots in the traditional American songbook. Featuring beautiful, emotional readings of songs popularized by such artists as Washington Phillips, Lead Belly, the Louvin Brothers, and Roscoe Holcomb, There Swims a Swan takes the listener on a trip through the songs that inspired Sheff while composing Black Sheep Boy and reads like a run-through of that album's themes. Black Sheep Boy is celebrated for its album artwork as well as its music, and the Anniversary Edition collects that artwork in a meticulously reworked package, combining every previous element of William Schaff's imagery with a large new piece by Schaff depicting an updated Black Sheep Boy. The release also includes lengthy liner notes by Will Sheff walking the listener through the circumstances surrounding the album.
For Okkervil River fans (the most high-profile of whom was recently revealed to be President Barack Obama, who included "Down Down the Deep River" on his 2015 summer playlist), the Anniversary Edition is a loving, comprehensive, richly expanded presentation of a record many consider to be one of the band's best. For those new to the band, this might be the best place to start, the first step on a long road, the opening to a forest you can get lost in.
"The goal was to push my brain to places it didn't want to go. The idea was to not have any idea – to keep myself confused about what I was doing," frontman Will Sheff says about Okkervil River's newest album. The resulting record, 'I Am Very Far,' is a startling break from anything this band has done before. By turns terrifying and joyous, violent and serene, grotesque and romantic, it's a celebration of forces beyond our control.
As the second single from The Stand Ins, "Pop Lie" takes the meta-referential mission of Okkervil River to a new distinctly pop level. Stephen Deusner had the following to say about it for Pitchfork: "[Okkervil frontman Will] Sheff wants to look beyond common pop song notions to discover something truer and more essential, no matter how disillusioning it may be, which is the central, enthralling contradiction for Okkervil River: Even as they ruthlessly deconstruct pop music, they make great pop music. The darker Sheff gets, the more honest he sounds and the more absorbing the song. By that equation, the stand-out on The Stand Ins is "Pop Lie", an exquisitely bleak dismantling of singer-songwriter pretensions." There are two additional tracks on the single, on which Sheff plays the role of a whole band: vocals, guitars, bass, and drums. There's an orphaned song from The Stage Names / The Stand Ins sessions called "Millionaire" which displays the storyteller in Will rising to the surface in a soaring acoustic piano-laden shuffle. Also included is an alternate slowed-down, fuzzed-up version of "Pop Lie".
Pre-orders will ship to arrive in the mail by the release date of September 9, 2008. All pre-orders made between August 11 and September 9 will receive download codes via email for digital versions of the album which will be available for download as early as September 5th. Orders will be shipped with posters for both The Stage Names and The Stand Ins at no additional cost.
OKKERVIL RIVER’s new full-length album The Stand Ins is the sequel to 2007’s critically acclaimed The Stage Names, which Pitchfork praised as “…one of the year’s best,” and The New York Times proclaimed, “This band’s musical arsenal keeps getting fuller.” The Stand Ins was recorded in Austin and produced by longtime collaborator Brian Beattie and Okkervil River. The album features 11 songs and includes the track “Lost Coastlines,” on which Sheff and recently departed Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater share a duet on the joys and hardships of trying to keep the band together. Of the process Will Sheff explains, “We had so many songs we were excited about that we briefly threw around the idea of just putting out a double record. Instead, we decided to take a group of songs that fit with each other and turn that into The Stage Names, setting the rest aside for a future release, a The Stage Names sequel." The Stand Ins is that sequel, part two of a staggered double album. Like artist William Schaff’s embroidered artwork, which depicts what’s happening underneath The Stage Names’ front-cover quicksand hand,The Stand Ins picks up exactly where Part One left off but also delves deeper into the story and theme of The Stage Names. It is a full-length, fleshed-out, deeply ambitious labor of love.
*We are now out of the deluxe 2xcd version - though limited copies will be available in stores on 8/7/07. The standard single disc version is now available for sale online.* Okkervil River's Black Sheep Boy was one of the most acclaimed releases of 2005. Kelefa Sanneh wrote in the New York Times that "Will Sheff, leader of the Austin indie-rock band Okkervil River, writes like a novelist.” With their newest release, The Stage Names, Okkervil River dynamite the walls of Black Sheep Boy’s gothic, moss-walled castle from the inside to let in the glaring sun. Where Black Sheep Boy presented a fairytale of dark babbling streams and high distant towers, The Stage Names takes place in an unmistakably modern world, where snowy televisions blast into cheap hotels the spectral images of soap stars endlessly betraying each other, where losers in late-night bars languish to the beat of their favorite songs, where broken-down actresses place their final cell calls from lonely mansions high in the hills. Riddled with characters real and fake, with true-life biography and brazenly fabricated autobiography, with the relics of high culture and the crumpled-up trash of low culture, The Stage Names is a cinemascopic take on the meaning of entertainment. And, crucially, it entertains. Reverberant with echoes of Motown snap and girl-group pop, redolent with ripe whiffs of dirty rock ‘n’ roll, shining with the shimmy of Bo Diddley, with the shimmer of the Velvets, with the swagger of the Faces, and with a glittery sprinkling of cheap perfume over the top of it all to disguise the stink, The Stage Names is a relentlessly-paced and ruthlessly thrilling journey.
Okkervil River's Black Sheep Boy Appendix is not just a companion piece to their critically-acclaimed 2005 release; it's also a condensed, alternate vision of that record's imagery and themes, with the ultimate intent to exhaust and destroy both. This ambitious mini-album rounds up and reworks the band's favorite unfinished songs (tracked for the Black Sheep Boy full-length) and then punctuates and bookends them in brand-new compositions; in the process, it shows songwriter Will Sheff and company both revisiting themes from their past and shooting off in some startling new directions. “Missing Children” entombs an unnerving fairy tale monologue in an arrangement that recalls The Marble Index or Tilt; its melody is reprised twenty minutes later in a frenetic and jangly rocker that might have been hatched from the side of Love's “A House is Not a Motel.” In between is everything else; suffocatingly lush string instrumentals, skittering found sounds, lean rockers, deafening epics, the rhythm section interrogating the lead singer, and “Black Sheep Boy #4,” which messily dispatches the Black Sheep Boy character in a lurid crime scene high on a plateau of hallucinatory, cinematic folk.
This is the tinderbox to the fantastical fire that is Black Sheep Boy, the much anticipated full-length record by Okkervil River, coming out in April 2005. This CD-single, priced exceptionally low, will be in stores while Okkervil River tours the United States with the Decemberists in March and April. The first track, “For Real”, is from the full-length record. The second track, “The Next Four Months”, is previously unreleased. And the third track, “For the Enemy (Live)”, is a very special recorded glimpse of Okkervil River performing live.
Okkervil River’s Down the River of Golden Dreams takes the band’s hallmarks—lush, eclectic orchestration that evokes chamber pop and soul, lapel-gripping emotional urgency, and the lyrical, direct songwriting of frontman Will Sheff—and expands and elevates them in service of a stunningly ambitious set of new songs. If last year’s Don’t Fall in Love with Everyone You See was the middle of the darkest night of the year, Down the River of Golden Dreams is the earliest light of a morning that could either bring the first breeze of spring or a battalion of tornadoes. On it the band stretches their wings. They shake off the fear and trepidation of the last record and try to look life in the face, emboldened by distorted blasts of Wurlitzer, guttural stabs of Hammond organ, urbane strings and jaunty horns that could be the work of a shitfaced Canadian Brass. Down the River of Golden Dreams combines with Okkervil’s trademark melancholy a sense of drama and play at which the last album only hinted. It oozes the band’s signature string-destroying folk-rock attack and umbilical chamber-pop swoon, but it also echoes the venomous cabaret of Jacques Brel, the off-kilter swagger of the Faces and Bob Dylan’s Blonde On Blonde, and the dusky balladry of Nick Cave. In addition, it displays a new confidence in frontman Will Sheff, whose concise, literary lyrics and emotionally direct delivery are rapidly distinguishing him as one of rock music’s best new songwriters. Critical raves from the likes of Rolling Stone, MOJO, Alternative Press, and No Depression variously compared the band to Neutral Milk Hotel, Wilco, Bright Eyes, Tindersticks and Will Oldham. This, their third full-length album, was recorded in San Francisco, California, in early 2003—at John Vanderslice’s Tiny Telephone studio—with engineer Scott Solter (The Mountain Goats, John Vanderslice, the Court and Spark, Tarentel) at the board.
With grackles in their hair and tragedies in their boots, this Austin, Texas-based group (by way of New Hampshire) has taken a shot at tradition and injected it with new passion and virility. Uniting the strains of moody chamber pop contemporaries like Tindersticks, Arab Strap, and Bright Eyes with the ragged emotional vulnerability of classic folk singers like Leadbelly and Dock Boggs, Okkervil River plays music that is both lush and organic, beautiful and unsettling. Don't Fall In Love With Everyone You See, Okkervil River's second full-length record and first for Jagjaguwar, is the follow-up to their 1999 self-released debut Stars Too Small To Use. The Austin Chronicle duly called this first record "a remarkable mix of frenetic stringwork and smart, narrative lyrics...the songs [are] a constant challenge to the senses and sensibilities of the attentive." Continuing on the same path, the new record gilds principal songwriter Will Robinson Sheff's literate and wrenching songs with such instruments as string and horn sections, pedal steel, mandolin, Hammond organ and mellotron. It also features a duet with outsider rock legend Daniel Johnston. Supported by some of Austin's best musicians and produced by Brian Beattie, it is no surprise that Don't Fall In Love With Everyone You See is an accomplished musical work. What makes this album truly singular, however, is that, lyrically, it is so good it makes your head hurt. The good kind of hurt. It reads like no other record we have ever come across, a very contemporary, reflexive masterpiece owing a lot in tone to the very best of the Russian and Southern Gothic literary traditions.
Absolute II is the final piece in Oneida’s Thank Your Parents triptych of releases, begun in 2008 with Preteen Weaponry and followed by 2009’s acclaimed triple disc Rated O. With this release, the Brooklyn group concludes a challenging and profound long-term project. The Thank Your Parents triptych, totaling around 200 minutes, is intended to be listened to as a whole or in its component parts. Absolute II stands on its own, in addition to serving as a chapter in an immense whole.
Oneida has delivered a monster named Rated O which happens to be the crowning achievement of their storied creative lives. By producing this colossus they have also created the necessity of its destruction -- which within the confines of this tremendous accomplishment -- they do so handily and with utter fluency. Perhaps Rated O represents the encyclopedic representation of ONEIDA MUSIC, ONEIDA CREATIVITY and ONEIDA INSATIABILITY. As the leviathan rises from the murky depths to endow the idle watch with illusion, disillusionment and mortal terror -- thus Oneida leaves a hieroglyphic spume upon the glassy surface of what is KNOWN and UNKNOWN. The music contained within the covers of Rated O must be seen as a gifted wilderness that when traversed will grant the traveler both a fractured mirror and a demolished and worried pathway deeper into the abyss. This album is an attempt to contain the entirety of Oneida and thus it points the way to infinite rebirth and boundless creativity. It is a finite map and the suggestion of unknown worlds. We finally have in our hands the album that Oneida has often gestured towards. Ladies and gentlemen, this is one of the greatest triple albums ever recorded.
Oneida has been releasing genre-defying music since 1997. They have nine full-length albums (one as double album, and now one as triple album) and various EPs and singles to their name. The list of great musicians and artists that Oneida have performed or collaborated with is far too extensive to briefly summarize here. They are critical darlings, they have become ambassadors for Jagjaguwar, and they are paying it forward with a label of their own called Brah Records (distributed by Jagjaguwar). For the reductivist in you, consider Oneida the bastard offspring of a Can/Suicide marriage, a band who is not afraid to pluck, tap, bend, synth or crash their way to the various extremes of rock, pop, folk and the avant-garde, and who brilliantly do so without alienating the respective fans of any of these so-called "genres".
"Preteen Weaponry" is part one of the "Thank Your Parents" triptych of Oneida releases. Oneida members past, present and future all contributed to this project. It reminds Oneida of what a live performance might sound like. It contains captured improvisational moments married with craft. You can consider it an introduction to their forthcoming triple album "Rated O", which is part two of the fore-mentioned triptych (to be released by Jagjaguwar in early 2009).
No band has been so praised for such a wide range of music over the last ten years than Brooklyn’s Oneida. Nobody has come close to matching their output of dazzlingly creative, uncategorizable music. Psychedelia, minimalism, maximalism, one-step, infinitewave, blah blah blah blah…it’s all there, all the time; and Happy New Year, the band’s ten billionth album, is Oneida’s zenith. Simultaneously the most eclectic and most coherent album they have yet released, Happy New Year flows flawlessly from a traditional hymn of grim beauty (“Distress”) through hypnotic rounds, thunderous kraut grooves, severe ballads, and other, indescribable music. Phil Manley of Trans Am and the Fucking Champs and experimental pianist Emily Manzo return for encores of their guest appearances on 2005’s The Wedding; they are joined by Shahin Motia of Ex Models, Brad Truax of Home, and frequent Oneida collaborator Barry London.
Oneida came up with the idea for The Wedding in early 2001, and immediately began building the largest music box on the east coast of the United States. Built of plywood, salvaged marine pilings, industrial motor parts and over seventy saw blades, the hand-cranked behemoth was assembled in the warehouse loading dock that’s also home to the Vale of Tears, Oneida’s own recording studio. By hammering nails and spikes into the cylindrical pilings at carefully mapped intervals, and rotating the pilings through thickets of variably-tensioned saw blades, Oneida created and recorded unearthly tones and melodies; these were subsequently used as the basis for a series of melancholy, yearning songs that now see the light of day as The Wedding.
After working for several years to complete the songs, the band added a number of complex, lush string arrangements. Brian Coughlin, leader of the NYC new music group Fireworks Ensemble, contributed his arranging talents and assembled a group of string players whom he felt were capable of understanding the unusual demands of the songs at hand. “Other than my version of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring for Fireworks, no arranging task has pushed my skills and talents to such extremes as the music of Oneida,” according to Coughlin. “The emotional complexity of the music is unmatched -- except maybe by the steel-drum version of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ I arranged for an amusement park,” he laughs.
Other guests at The Wedding include Phil Manley of Trans Am, Adam Davison of Company (who also appeared on Oneida’s recent EP Nice/Splittin’ Peaches), Brad Truax of Home, and avant-garde piano wizard Emily Manzo.
Oneida’s Secret Wars is a Pacific summerjam. It’s got Balinese gongs, Hawaiian ukuleles, red wine, injuries, glee, and a song called “Wild Horses” that's written by Oneida. It’s also got a lot of good advice. With their new full-length record, Brooklyn sons Oneida simply start where they left off with Each One Teach One, their highly acclaimed and soon to be classic double CD and LP that came out last year. (Jon Pareles of the New York Times dubbed it a top ten pick and Mojo called it an essential underground record.) But these purveyors of righteous noise and indignation never stopped in the first place. Almost immediately after wrapping up Each One Teach One, they collaborated with the Liars on a split EP while touring both Europe and the United States. In the meantime, they also created Secret Wars. Their trademark iterated and psych-tinged noise attack is still fully intact, both nervous and subdued at the same time - like what happens when you give meditative children trained in the ways of yoga an excessive amount of caffeine. If there are any new wrinkles to be discovered, it is perhaps that, even more so than on Each One Teach One (Oneida’s Tago Mago), Oneida seem to be mining the same fertile ground as Kraut-rock visionaries Can, effortlessly shedding the constraints of pop forms and structures while still remaining soulful and spiritually centered all along. Like spazzing out in the Lotus position. The album was recorded and mixed by Oneida at the Travel Agency and with Nicolas Vernhes (who recorded the most recent albums by Black Dice, Ted Leo, Fischerspooner, amongst others) at the Rare Book Room.
This is the double CD version of Oneida's already legendary double LP Each One Teach One, the first truly heavy psychedelic rock record of the new millennium, originally limited to 500 vinyl copies packaged in individually hand-screened packaging (released by Version City).
Oneida, responsible for the unstoppable rock opus Anthem of the Moon, have dropped on the Earth nine extended, blown out new songs that reach far beyond the fairly concise bursts of noise and melody found on previous records. On the two CDs that form the CD version of Each One Teach One, Oneida are given the chance to stretch their rock to their breaking point and beyond, offering up enormous, dripping wet slabs of extended, linear noise mayhem, hollowed out hulls where ghosts of America sing songs that few will ever hear, and longer takes on the sort of speed-fueled manic garage grot that's graced the band's songbook from the start.
Recorded at Tarquin Studios and outdoors in the Stones (the band's personal retreat, located near the New Hampshire border), the ten songs on Each One Teach One find Oneida at the peak of their all-out-rock phase, sounding more like their incomparable live shows than any of their previous records.
Put the first CD on and lie down on your floor with your eyes closed. Have a friend around to put in the second disc when it is time and to guide you on the trip it'll take you on. Headphones or loudspeakers recommended for playback. Discover the miracles of your Third Eye with Each One Teach One.
ANTHEM OF THE MOON -- recorded in the stones by Oneida. Mixing and additional recording by Peter Katis at Tarquin Studios.There's an awful lot of "psychedelic" music around these days, mostly of the gentle, sprightly, cosmic nature. It has seemed to Oneida for the past couple years that the world has forgotten a huge part of the critical essence of the psychedelic experience: anxiety, dislocation, alienation and half-formed terror. With ANTHEM OF THE MOON, they're out to remind the world why psychedelia matters.Over the course of thirteen months, Oneida made repeated journeys to an array of Colonial-era ruins in the woods of western New England, where they had set up a small mobile recording unit in the midst of the stones. They recorded each of these trips, ending up with a massive trove of tape reels, from which the bulk of this album was distilled. Sounds of the stones and the night woods saturate the recorded music (including the ghostly screech of a barred owl on "Almagest"), literally and emotionally; the naked, anxious exhaustion, ecstasy, and paranoia that the listener hears are the real thing.ANTHEM OF THE MOON is a literal and figurative field recording -- of voices: animal and human, real and imagined, whimpers, moans, screams and incantations. Their trip is no fucking picnic in the meadow -- it's a journey into the stones.
This is a reissue of Oneida's landmark second full-length, which was first issued on the now defunct Turnbuckle label. It was with this record's original release that this motley crew of spinmeisters first made a name for themselves. Just when everyone had thought that there was yet another band in the world with the sole intention of devoting itself to the indulgent pursuit of the endless permutations of "noise exploration", we got instead a "slippery" masterpiece that, according to Mojo (for which this record garnered Rock Album of the Month honors), melded "rock'n'roll, garage punk and New Wave [with] Hammond organ arpeggios [bumping] into parping jazz trumpets and MC5-inspired riffs, while a discordant Suicide-spooked backdrop keeps the paranoia levels up." Hopefully, you get the picture and understand why we deemed it necessary to reintroduce this to the masses, with the added bonus of a previously unreleased track to boot. Finally, Oneida offers this explanation:Back in the winter of 1998 when Oneida couldn't find anyone trustworthy to supply us with psychedelics we made some of our own. Using Fat Bobby's childhood chemistry kit and a vintage recipe found in a community library, we made a small batch of mind moonshine to get us through the long session of what was to become ENEMY HOGS. Beginning in the dark days of the cold winter of 1998, we proceeded to lay down thirty hours of seamless brain-boiling freak-out in the tradition of who-the-fuck knows. In those days we ate, slept and lived in Studio Tropical. One morning we awoke to PCRZ weeping over an indoor bonfire of the tapes. After we barely escaped with our lives and the rest of our crystal, we asked Crazee what moved him to destroy what we had begun to call our "mind garden." "The weeds," he said, "The weeds."What I think he was trying to say was that our vision had become compromised in a cloud of paranoia. We were letting the demons outside the hallowed walls of Tropical dictate the sounds that were reaching the tape. So we began again in earnest and with double doses of the mind moonshine. The results you now have in your hands. We were able to save one complete "song" from the destroyed tapes and include it here for the first time. The track is called "O.D.B." and we wrote it after Old Dirty Bastard from the Wu Tang Clan got shot in 1998.
We will concede this to the latte-sipping coffee table theorists of the world. When it comes to the small slice of pop culture called American rock music over the last three decades, a profound shift did occur when the National Minimum Drinking Age Act was signed into law on July 17, 1984 by Ronald Reagan. The rock farm leaguesãtraditional rock and roll venuesãtook a big hit in the nose, and ever since rock music has been less "substance-tial."
Well, thank God for Oneida.
With their third full-length record COME ON EVERYBODY LET'S ROCK (their first full-length record for Jagjaguwar), Oneida conjure up the spirit of a forgotten past -- from the heaviosity of Deep Purple and Blue Cheer to the hooks of Humble Pie and Foghat to the attitude and dirty swagger of early Alice Cooper Band. The Brooklyn rock band also lives up to the tale of the tape, hands down being the best live band in New York City at this very moment. So infamous are their live performances that even overseas the British press makes it their business to hail Oneida as purveyors of the burgeoning New York City "Loft Party" scene (the new rock farm league?). Best of all, Oneida are smart and are as rooted in the present as they are informed by the past. Consider for instance their take on the global economy as poignantly expressed in "Doin Business in Japan":
When I do business I do it in Japan / I am signing contracts that I don't understand /But it don't matter when the deal is done / I'm getting higher than the rising sun
Stand clear of the mirror and get away from mom and dad's robitussin. This is the great rock record by Oneida we all have been waiting for.
According to Oneida:Oneida -- called a whole lot of names -- "the organic Kraftwerk", "bastard prodigal sons of Afrika Bambaataa," "Brooklyn's electro nightmares unleashed" ...and it's all true. Claims of jazz refuted here. Oneida is all rock, all beat, all the time. This record is our nametag.Break your door, steal the shutters, dear landlord: there's a price on your head and Oneida's new STEEL ROD EP is embedded six inches into the back of your skull. All you old men, handing out religious brochures and telling the youth that they've lost to the devil, take a look into your own asshole. We think you just might find our new CD, the god you've lost and a nice little piece of pipe. Give or take five screaming cuts about new identities, new visions and civil war -- Oneida's Steel Rod lays down another testament to bein' free like we want it to be. Remember Watson and Crick? Well, we think that Nobel Prize needs to be recalled and delivered to the real innovators of genetics: us. Ever wonder what an "XXY" baby looks like? Listen up. I think you'll hear its fragile egg shell mind crying out on track one.Some say our "Steel Rod" is discriminate. Not so -- we smash it all up -- but ask questions later. The board rooms are still talking about the event described above. Suits and casual Friday types keep Oneida in the minutes these days. This Steel Rod we keep talking about -- look at it as our scale of justice. Eyes wide open, next stop "Tennessee." The Union presence is keeping the good people down, disguised as police. But we're not heartless. We shed a tear on this track... for the dead men in blue, piled up in our wake. Climb onto our "Hell Train" headed for the promised land. Paranoia, beer, and trucker's speed fueling the next binge on the devil's consciousness. We think it's all damn sinister. That there's an end coming. It'll get your ass. Listen up. It's knocking on your door. It won't stop here.
With Parker Paul's debut full-length Lemon-Lime Room, many wondered if the piano man wouldn't be consigned to the awkward yet prestigious league of musicians' musicians--that cadre of the pop intelligentsia which includes the Harry Nilssons, Randy Newmans, Todd Rundgrens and Ron Sexsmiths of the world. Each one is recognized for their superior songwriting talent, yet the cash register has never rung for any of them with quite the same frequency as would naturally be suggested by the multitude of airy plaudits they have each garnered. With the unleashing of the second full-length record Wingfoot--the album that no one expected to hear for another five years--Parker Paul has made it clear to the world that he is not a man to sit on his hands.
You should have no illusions. The future for Parker Paul is still unclear. But he is resolute on one thing: not relying on critical acclaim, on ivory towers alone, to spread the word. The masses will come or Parker Paul will fade permanently into obscurity. Lingering in and out of the public's eye, clutching tightly to the consolation prize of being deemed "canonical", will not suffice.
The formula remains the same. Parker Paul writes songs about people whose lives have a real lived-in quality to them. They are not overly beatific, worn-down or damaged as the subjects of most realist songwriters today are. And when Parker Paul's lyricism provides sage advice to the listener, it is accidental, not intentional. Parker Paul is never pedantic. For him, stating the obvious comes natural: "The people who tell lies / About their crappy childhoods / Probably had crappy childhoods."
To really fill out his songs of love, laughter and devotion, Parker Paul enlisted a full band of crack musicians who, performing together, sound like a New Orleans cosmic brothel jazz band. Members include Dan Sullivan (Nad Navillus), Emma Niblett (Scout Niblett), Adam Busch (Manishevitz), Fred Lonberg-Holm (Peter Brotzmann Tentent, John Zorn and Light Box Orchestra), and Jeb Bishop (Vandermark 5 and The Flying Luttenbachers).
Wingfoot was produced by the Schwartz Brothers (Michael Krassner & Busch), and various arrangements were made by Lonberg-Holm.