LISTEN: Cincinnati band Oids' adventurous, rocket-fueled New Wave debut, 'Zonked!'

Formed out of the ashes of Injecting Strangers, Oids takes cues from New Wave and Post Punk and then twists them into their own offbeat image.

Jun 19, 2018 at 3:07 pm

After a few years of theatrical, wild-eyed Art Rock and building up their name as one of the best live acts in Cincinnati, Injecting Strangers came to an abrupt halt. After singer Richard Ringer suddenly moved to Los Angeles, in early 2017 the band released the material they’d been working as the Dyin’ to Be Born EP. The three songs were among the band’s best, a culmination of the development of IJ’s intoxicatingly weird, super-adrenalized and highly melodic Prog Pop.

But instead of being left with a feeling of what could have been, IJ fans instead got new beginnings, and Cincinnati got a promising new band. While Ringer started the group Jr. Sun in L.A., the rest of the imaginative musicians — guitarist Peter Foley, bassist Dylan Oseas and drummer Chase Leonard — regrouped and continued writing, shaping the sound of what would become their new band, Oids.

“The story behind (Oids) begins with van rides to Injecting Strangers shows,” Foley recently explained to CityBeat in an email. “We would typically listen to new releases and share new albums we each had discovered recently — it could be anything from hip hop to punk to bedroom pop or whatever. However, on the way back home after the show when everyone was exhausted, Richard would sleep in the back seat and the rest of us would put on XTC or Tears for Fears or Peter Gabriel.

“The three of us wanted to keep playing together and felt that a new wave project would be super fun.”

While Foley stepped up to fill the singing role, he’d also written lots of synth parts, so the group decided to add a keyboardist. After moving from San Francisco to join the project (also playing sax), Oseas’ cousin Nathan — who performs as “Cousin Nathan” — became the final piece of the Oids puzzle.

Oids have been building up buzz on stages around Cincinnati, and this spring they began releasing digital singles in anticipation of their debut album, Zonked! After a soft launch last month as a limited-edition CD, Zonked! is available today digitally. Listen to the whole thing below and click the player to visit the band's Bandcamp page.

If your are aware of Oids’ ’80s-tinted origin story and familiar with Injecting Strangers’ music, you’ll probably come away from listening to Zonked! thinking it is exactly what those ingredients should add up to. But few would go into listening to it knowing what to expect. The influence of synth-infused (and other) bands of the ’80s are evident, but with ¾ of the creative minds behind IJ running the Oids show, the end product is ingeniously constructed with an evident sense of experimentalism. The musicians take those New Wave and Post Punk elements and artfully twist them into their own distinct, slightly warped image.

Zonked! has a herky-jerky, zig-zagging flow on many levels. Besides the offbeat songwriting approach, the musicians’ versatility adds to the endearingly asymmetrical flow. Leonard is one of the city’s most creative drummers, and with Oids he continues to do much more than just keep time; his musicality allows the drums to be able to reshape the entire atmosphere at any moment during a song.

Likewise, Foley’s guitar work frequently vacillates between tones and feels, but his vocals and melodies are even more chameleon-like. On one of the album’s highlights, “Memory Banks,” the vocal swoon and swagger of Adam Ant is conjured, while on the similarly strong “Wrong Man,” Foley uses some hiccupping inflections that recall Dave Wakeling of The English Beat. The synths/keyboards on Zonked! play a relatively ornamental role, adding squishy squiggles, broad atmospherics and other interesting noises.

Zonked! is clearly inspired by ’80 “Alternative” music, but Oids don’t merely mimic the sounds of old XTC, DEVO or Cars records. They chase the spirit of how those classic songs make people feel and maybe borrow a few tricks and tools from the era, but the glaring originality of what they build out of those (and other) parts makes it an almost anti-nostalgic, wildly stimulating carnival ride.