Omni – Deluxe

These guys first caught my ear when they were playing around Atlanta as Landline. After discovering a Portland band was using a similar name, the boys rechristened themselves Omni. The two monikers inhabit a similar space once you think of the Omni as the predecessor to Philips Arena – a fixture that remained prominent into the ’90s but soon after faded into the realm of nostalgia.

In a similar vein, Omni traffics in nervous, herky-jerky guitar lines, the likes of which largely receded after the early ’80s wave of post-punk. The band mentions Pylon as an influence, which is audible in their cleanly picked guitar patterns, but Omni doesn’t stay in the same place for nearly as long. I’m reminded more of another Athens band of the same era, but I guess you don’t draw as many clicks by namedropping the Method Actors. More to the point, I can’t think of anyone who’s channeled the vibe of Scottish skittering tremolo kings Josef K as well, particularly on the jittery “Wire.”

Filing Deluxe under “lo-fi” would be accurate, but potentially misleading. Guitarist Frankie Broyles and vocalist/bassist Philip Frobos recorded the album as a duo in their Goat Farm rehearsal space. The album is devoid of hiss, as well as engineering gloss that might detract from the “capture it as it happens” thrill. Broyles’ overdubbed drums sound rather muffled, however (Billy Mitchell mans the kit on stage, expanding Omni to a rather taut trio).

Deluxe speeds through 10 songs in 30 minutes, recalling the rather hurried tempos of early ’80s art-punk. The two longest tracks are also the greatest departures – “Cold Vermouth” sports a touch of late ’60s garage rock swagger, and “Siam,” the only cut clocking in over four minutes, slows the pace enough to develop a groove and harness the power of repetition. The shorter, sharper shocks of the other tracks serve as nice chasers.

Omni doesn’t sound much like anything else going in Atlanta these days, except perhaps early Deerhunter – which isn’t surprising, since Broyles played guitar in that band for a couple of years and Frobos’ (and Mitchell’s) former band Carnivores had ties to Bradford Cox’s crew as well. Deluxe is a welcome breath of fresh, if somewhat claustrophobic, air.

[Trouble in Mind]