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Reveling in mundane connection with Omni's 'Networker"

Sam Stanley is a graduate of Wilmington College and has been serving as WYSO's Music Department intern since last summer. As Sam wraps up his time with WYSO and prepares for his next big adventure, he tells us about an album that was important to him before and during the pandemic.

Most of us remember the world before COVID, no masks, the jagged traversal of online romance and friendships, and normal social-cues long forgotten by the millennials and gen Zers. Now we have a strict divide between the safety of the virtual world and the comfort of the real world. Some of us have experience trying to date online and we all know how difficult it can be to find a real connection amongst weak signals;

Atlanta based band Omni reflects pre-COVID life on their 2019 album titled Networker which is a glimpse into the mundane and yet somehow anxiety fueled era of online relationships.

Omni is one of those bands you find late on a Tuesday - staring at the wall with nothing on your mind except the want of excitement and the unwillingness to find it. They packed a punch with their 2016 debut album Deluxe with phased out vocals and mathematical-rhythmic guitar riffs. An instant underground hit Omni, breaks away from traditional post-punk with something new and unsettling. Their lyrics are cobbled together through shared experiences like dating online, coming of age, losing friends and finding your way in the world. The band composed of Frankie Broyles (previously of Deerhunter), Philip Frobos and Chris Yonker sync up to create a never before seen punk, restless leg syndrome sci-fi freakshow trio and they balance it remarkably well. The first time I heard them I thought,” yeah these guys are weird and I can’t understand the lyrics but I like listening to them and it gets me moving”.

Omni’s third album Networker was released at the perfect time, a sweet sounding relic from a nostalgic era. Even though 2019 was only three years ago it feels like a lifetime. The theme of the album is the continuation of forced connections and that’s reflected in songs such as Courtesy Call, Underage, and Skeleton Key.

The final song on the set list is Sleep Mask which happens to be the albums most underrated song and contributes amazingly to Omni’s electric jazz sound tying the album together in a neat bow. Omni has been criticized for their albums sounding like one long song. Their rhythms are similar enough that it can become monotonous but therein lies the beauty of what Omni aims to achieve, synchronicity. Networker is no different, It pierces through the mundane monotone world with their specifically crafted lyrics. They're holding up a mirror to us or perhaps a pre-pandemic us that needs the self reflection all the same

My take is that any true connection you find comes from the real world and although it can be easy to find online, reality is much different. I love Omni and this album because they remind me that the real world is where it’s at. As Groucho Marx says: “I’m not crazy about reality, but it’s still the only place you can get a decent meal”