Thurs Aug 5
10 SW 3rd

Once upon a time, artists wanted to live in Manhattan. Brooklyn was still considered a less hip suburb, although the seeds of its current harvest of bands and hangers-on had been planted, and shrewd critics were sharpening their pencils to pioneer the reference lists of descriptive phrases for the new "Brooklyn Sound."

As things were starting to boil, Oneida was starting to make noises in the rafters of warehouses and party pads with a sound that couldn't make up its mind what it wanted to be: punk, psych, prog, experimental, or kraut. Luckily, they never made up their minds--they just got better at fusing it into something that's increasingly departed from their references.

Secret Wars, released early this year, marks the sixth LP from the trio, and features yet another of their signature, landscape-design album covers. It's a sweet compliment to the music, which can shift its focus from a chipper but relentless drum beat to a fuzzy, meandering guitar trip in the space of one-fifth of a song. It's as though the band's consciousness occasionally forgets that it's going somewhere, drifting off on a mental tangent before snapping back into the memory of the mission.

It's a combination that feels more balanced than ever, as the band hasn't been distracted by all the hoopla, fashion, or kitsch that has enveloped the scene around them. In fact, they don't seem to have much in common with other bands that get smacked with the Brooklyn Sound label. Instead they've chosen one road--a druggy hodgepodge of dirty and ethereal--and stuck to it, determined to make it flow and become something original. The result can be obtuse, and probably too stoney for some, but Oneida's purposeful, continuous commitment to taking what they love and continuously working on it seems noble and lasting compared to all the time-sensitive gimmicks that make up "rock" these days.