The State of Georgia in the USA has born some unbelievable indie bands since the 80s: R.E.M., Of Montreal, Elf Power, Neutral Milk Hotel, The Apples In Stereo and Deerhunter just to name a few. Omni are another exciting band to add to the list. Their new album ‘Networker’ (out now via Sub Pop), whilst touching the sides of some of these local heroes, seems to draw influence largely from the 1970s.
There are (whisper it) elements of progressive rock as well as the virtuoso musicianship of Television married with the jagged new wave of Elvis Costello.
This is even evident in the production with the tight flat drums and slightly overdriven guitars. From the off ‘Sincerely Yours’ marries these elements with the scuzz and jittery energy of 70s acolytes The Strokes and a hint of Parquet Courts whimsy.
Melodically at times there are parallels with early Of Montreal, particularly in the vocal and bass melodies. Also present is a laid back attitude within the tight, sometimes complicated and Captain Beefheart-esque structures. This is particularly evident on the intricate ‘Courtesy Call’, the jaunty “Genuine Person” and the driving and brilliant ’Moat’. Omni shift between time signatures without it seeming pretentious and this is coupled with George Harrison style guitar wails in the breakdown on ‘Underage’.
‘Skeleton Key’ plays with guitar stabs on the off beat, noodling scratchy solos and nicely timed swung triplets. It’s a fidgety song but serves as a real highlight.
Occasionally it feels like the band are holding back to keep the listener on edge. ‘Present Tense’, for example, seems to be begging to take off into the stratosphere but this never quite happens and, perhaps it would be a bit cheap or too easy to do it. They seem to prefer to noodle and skew instead like a less cartoonish Deerhoof, particularly on ‘Blunt Force’ and ‘Flat Earth’ (which has some almighty riffs). The penultimate title track is an unexpected side step near the end, with its smooth keyboard sounds and 80s chimes, but the band return to the jagged formula on closer ‘Sleep Mask’ with its jazzy chords and perky verses.
At just 32 minutes ‘Networker’ is an album that packs in a lot of twists and turns and may require repeated listening to fully connect with.
There are some really nice hooks and impressive shifts in dynamics and structure. Omni are clearly excellent musicians and the lyrics are sardonic and fun throughout.’Networker’ is a really fine record that leaves room for manoeuvre. The really great songs here like ‘Sincerely Yours’, ‘Skeleton Key’ and ‘Flat Earth’ suggest the band may be on the verge of producing something amazing.
You may enjoy this if you like: Television, The Strokes, Elvis Costello, Parquet Courts, Ought, Deerhoof, Captain Beefheart