Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: OHMME

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OHMME | Photo by Eric Schuman for WXPN

Joining us in the studio for this Indie Rock Hit Parade session is a band whose co-leaders first met when they were in high school. Formed in Chicago in 2014, OHMME (previously HOMME) is fronted by guitarist Sima Cunningham and guitarist/violinist Macie Stewart. Though both are classically trained pianists, this project finds them exploring overdriven art-rock and intricate vocal harmonies. Cunningham and Stewart are joined in this session by drummer Matt Carroll, who also supplied all the drum parts on OHMME’s newly released debut album, Parts. The record is an energizing concoction of rock, jazz, folk and world music styles, centered around Cunningham and Stewart’s overlapping vocals. Before their Boot and Saddle show (which featured an opening set from IRHP session veteran Renata Zeiguer), OHMME stopped by to perform some of their new songs live in our studio.


Our session with OHMME begins the same way as their album, with “Icon.” A bright and breezy pop tune with flashes of menace, the lyrics are kaleidoscopic images of desire, stubbornness and consumerism. Next is the sprawling “Grandmother,” which unfolds into a chugging, Velvet Underground-esque guitar marathon. OHMME don’t have a bass player, but Stewart splits her guitar signal through multiple amplifiers to achieve a sharp, sometimes brittle rhythm. That technique is heard right away on the next song, “Water.” Central to that song’s wild arrangement is the use of vocal hocketing, a back-and-forth style popular in both medieval compositions and African and Central American folk styles. Closing OHMME’s session is a bonus performance of the groovy “Peach,” which combines all the aforementioned musical tricks and throws in some skittering guitar improvisations for good measure.

Listen to OHMME’s Indie Rock Hit Parade session below, check out some photos from the studio and have a look at the band’s upcoming tour dates with Iron & Wine (including a stop at Glenside’s Keswick Theatre on 11/8)

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