Power Animals,” on this Brooklyn power trio’s 2000 Come On Everybody Let’s Rock, might be the best song ever written about a deadlocked presidential election: Tilden and Hayes in 1876, to be exact. With their sixth good album in five years (I still haven’t heard their debut; their split EP with Liars is a snooze), they’ve been NYC’s smartest and most prolific rock band for so long (unless Greg Tate’s Burnt Sugar count, and maybe even if they do) that it’s easy to take them for granted. Forced to choose, I’d take 2000’s half-hour-plus Steel Rod “EP” for songs stuck in my gullet or 2002’s double disc Each One Teach One for water-torture minimalism beyond the call of sanity, but their (topically titled?) latest strikes a fine balance.
Standout cuts: “Capt. Bo Dignifies the Allegations With a Response” (verse-chorus-verse punk-speed catchy); “$50 Tea” (what sounds like three different guitars repeating spazzed-out figures till powerchords bang then turn into feedback then return to repetitive propulsion like Can/Faust Kraut-drone made massive); “The Winter Shaker” (more thump-thump-thump with all instruments doing the same thing at the same time over and over); “Changes in the City” (14-minute Fugs-fugued magnum octopus of Middle Eastern post-Yardbirds/Hawkwind karmadelica and wah-wah shifting gradually but constantly, urban-landscape-style). There’s also some bluesish dejection and gamelan exotica—all in all, expertly wobbling prog metal, constructed out of as few chords as possible.
Local Stoner-Metal Act Manages to Kick Ass While Staring at Shoes
Graveyard of Your Mind
The stoner-riff ideas of NYC’s erstwhile Aytobach Kreisor sound more generic than Oneida’s, but their vocals sound more pre-psych-fleshed-out and less post-indie-wallflower—Kenny Sehgal’s singing dances madly backward on a sea of air, and its motion counts for a lot, especially at a moment when the beatless retreat to ’90s indie amorphousness of TV on the Radio’s inept album is the most acclaimed game in town. Oddly, Kreisor insist their own melodic drone is partially inspired by ’90s shoegaze bands, and their sophomore album’s one cover version (“Waiting for the Sun” by the Doors) has a bit of blowhardiness to it. But with less blatant intelligence quotient aforethought than Oneida’s, their impatient arrangements achieve comparable turnarounds, and their purple poetry (“fruits of my labors fermenting on the ground, snatched up by varmints wearing plastic crowns”) can amuse even when not satanically masked.
They clearly love the doom-grimed rocketship rumbles that evolving metal stegosaurs chugged out between 1966 and 1972. So even full-tempo passages trapped under enough Euro-ice to pass for Voivod (“The Deep”) or early Metallica (“Lazarus”) come with greasy old-school-American hooks attached.
Canny Remixer Slows Down Classic Rock to a Cold-Remedy Crawl
Wanna take acid-rock to a really new realm? Hire this visionary Ohio-via-Brooklyn remixer to produce Oneida or Kreisor. His three other recent homemade CD-Rs “jack and hack” (or “lean and chop,” or “steady sip lean with a crazy straw, y’all,” but not “screw” since he sez only Houston’s “late, great pioneer/creator of the style DJ Screw” deserves that verb) White Stripes (Wonka’s Elephant), Willie Wonka/Lil Jon/Sir Mix-a-Lot (Mo Mongers), and MC5/Mastodon doing Thin Lizzy/Metallica (Gruff!), but Codeine Rock is his masterwork from its kickoff, where the auteur spills sizzurp over first an Arkansas-brimstoned Jim Dandy Mangrum sermon and then Foghat’s “Slow Ride,” now bulldozed so slow it could murder a moose. Other signs of genius include a foreshortened sludging of the echo-metal classic “Whole Lotta Love” segued into “Tom Sawyer” ‘s def sixteenth notes, Kiss’s “Cold Gin” riff plowed into the ground while “around the corner at the liquor store/the cheapest stuff is all I need” accrues newly Robitussed meaning, and “I Wanna Be Your Dog” all messed up in Lester Bangs’s room. The falsettos-getting-low routine can devolve into mere parlor trickery, and compared to Michael Watts’s radical reworking of David Banner’s Mississippi, Wonka doesn’t always do a whole lot else—but maybe with music already this enormous, he doesn’t need to. Definitely “Back in Black” could use more reverb, maybe “Foxy Lady” and “Crazy Train” too. But “Midnight Rider” emerging out of history’s most euphoric “Fly Like an Eagle” totally opens up the sound, making for dub blues as depressed as Banner’s “Cadillac on 22s.” And from its cowbell on, “Mississippi Queen” proves Leslie West a founding father of crooked-letter crunk, once and for all.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 6, 2004