Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Pitstop: OHMME

photo by Michael Salisbury
My discovery of Chicago duo OHMME (formerly Homme) is a combination of constantly seeing former Red Eye Chicago writer Josh Terry gush about them and actually hearing their song "Woman" off their self-titled EP used by Ryan from Ahleuchatistas to promote a show he's playing with them later this month. While I certainly should've jumped on the suggestion the countless times Josh Terry inadvertently recommended them, it was actually hearing them that led to me being instantly charmed.

Though there's probably tons that can be said about the serendipitous linking of Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart though the free improv scene in Chicago, the main focus should be on the fact that Cunningham and Stewart create songs that achieve a pitch perfect balance between indelible pop melodies, experimental sounds, and gorgeous vocal harmonies. Take "Woman" which begins with sharp guitar jangle before the duo's vocals enter with perfect harmonic softness, it's an immediate juxtaposition of opposites. That's to say nothing of the sweet dissonance of the song's chorus. OHMME are a band of opposites but also a band able to blend together those very parts in something notable. At once abrasive then soothing, OHMME is a dynamic band that filters their various influences into an intricately layered avant pop masterpiece.

The duo are able to weave together a sound that seems a hell of a lot bigger than just two people can make. Like "Fingerprints" which you swear is the result of some wonderfully deployed vocal effect but is really just the sound of Cunningham and Stewart being effortless in sync as they rapidly play off each other. It's a level of mind-boggling synchronicity that immediately brought to mind Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of Lucius or frequent Son Lux collaborators Lily & Madeleine. And yet, OHMME is thankfully a band all their own. Their self-titled EP is a stunningly versatile work filled with both aggressive rock pop numbers and mellower vocal showcases sometimes even in the course of the same time like see-sawing "Furniture".

OHMME have been creating music together for years and their EP is a testament to both the talents Cunningham & Stewart and the seemingly limitless creativity of their bond. Hopefully it's not another three years before the duo put out another record but if it takes that long to get a record as unique and enjoyable in sound as the EP, it'll be well worth the wait.

OHMME's debut self-titled record is out now on Fox Hall Records. You can snag it via the band's Bandcamp.

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