"Happy New Year" by Oneida 

Soon-to-be "seminal" Brooklyn band leads with a curve, then brings the heat.

Happy New Year

Oneida

(Jagjaguwar)

Though it's the band's eighth album, Happy New Year doesn't sound like Oneida until track three. The first track, "Distress," is equally OMD and Simon & Garfunkel. Oneida are one of the only active bands that could make something like that work. Track two, the title track, well, I'm not really sure what it sounds like, but it's got a lot of keys and a great hook. It sets the mood for what is an overall sunnier outing for this wildly prolific Brooklyn band.

Yes, there are the driving, minimal songs that have become the band's trademark, with their three to four notes, airtight drumming, and repeated lyrical phrases. Two of the best are track three, "The Adversary," and the lengthy, pumping "Up With People." Then the guys fool around with pretty, lilting pop songs before the affair concludes. There are surprises, and then there's the sonic commonality that makes Oneida a candidate to one day be labeled "seminal" and be lavished with a reissue campaign.

Oneida releases albums on a pretty-much yearly schedule, and this follow-up to 2005's The Wedding was originally planned as a triple-disc monster. But the band lost their longtime studio to condo development. (In Brooklyn? Nooo!) Perhaps the setback resulted in this introspective yet undeniably more uplifting disc, though that's mere guesswork. Regardless, Happy New Year should hold everyone over until 2007's eight-album box set of new material -- or maybe I'm just trying to start a rumor. -- Andrew Earles

Grade: A-

Oneida plays the Hi-Tone Café Friday, July 28th, with Birds of Avalon and Black Taj. Doors open at 9 p.m., admission is $8.

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