When longtime local musicians Frankie Broyles and Philip Frobos lived together in the early 2010s—in a late-1800s Druid Hills mansion around the corner from the one featured in Driving Miss Daisy—they started writing songs discordant with their picturesque setting.
Broyles, formerly of the raucous, locally beloved Balkans, was coming off of a few years with critically hailed experimental-alternative outfit Deerhunter; he and Frobos, bassist with Atlanta noise-pop group Carnivores, had been friends since they’d met at a house show a decade earlier. Frobos says he was feeling “the need and want to write stuff in a different genre.” The duo came up with an album of songs—with a fidelity to the post-punk bands of the late ’70s and ’80s they loved, like Wire, Magazine, and Gang of Four—that would make them one of the city’s most successful bands.
On Omni’s debut album, Deluxe, Broyles’s acute, dexterous guitar slices through lo-fi recordings, the yang to the yin of Frobos’s pulsating bass and deadpan vocals. Follow-up Multi-task sent the band on marathon tours (joined by drummer Chris Yonker) across the U.S. and Europe—“Poland, Sardinia, places I thought I’d never get to go,” says Frobos.
Networker, the band’s first album since signing with major label Sub Pop earlier this year, finds them grappling with the trappings of the social-media age, how “people [get] lost in the digital version of themselves—marketing themselves, instead of being themselves,” Frobos explains.
Written in Atlanta between tours and recorded over four sessions in a cabin amid Middle Georgia’s tall pines—where the band could noodle around and record at night without fear of noise complaints—this album has angles that are somewhat softer than those of its predecessors, exploring other rock ’n’ roll styles of the ’70s, like 10cc and Thin Lizzy. A higher-fi sound emphasizes the band’s staccato precision and Broyles’s dynamic guitar work, which shines with Television-style riffs in standout “Courtesy Call” atop bass arpeggios.
While the band’s misgivings about a social media–obsessed culture are clear, they’ve found a tenuous peace: “When we’re gone, there will at least be something tangible—our albums—left here,” Frobos says. “It’s the best-case scenario.”
This article appears in our November 2019 issue.