We, at The Revue, are admittedly music geeks (although nowhere near the level of Alan Cross). We carefully read the liner notes to see if an artist may give a nod to an unknown and obscure band. We’ll spend hours on Soundcloud and the internet scouring for music. We’ll go to garage sales, check out the Salvation Army’s stash of vinyl, and visit a record store no matter where we are. Our music geekdom doesn’t end there. We also have an infinity for all instruments. One of those is the Suzuki Omnichord, which Rich actually owns and has become quite adept at playing.
The omnichord has undergone a resurgence of late, increasingly being utilized by small and big-name artists. Created over thirty years ago, the omnichord has been called an electric autoharp, yet it has synthesizer qualities. Its versatility has seen the omnichord being used in electronic and dance music to dream-pop to haunting and brooding indie rock. For instance, Dreamboat’s gorgeous new album, In a Dream, incorporates the omnichord in a few tracks. And with its rising popularity, its value has increased. Not long ago you could score one of the early models for about 100 bucks, but with its rise in popularity, depending on the model it can range from $200-$300.
Value and rudimentary economics aside, we decided to dedicate this week’s list in honor of this great instrument, and we go back a couple of decades to the present. If you do a search on the internet, other artists that you’ll find associated with the omnichord are Arcade Fire, Jenny Lewis, Bjork, Lady Lamb The Beekeeper, The Dixie Chicks, Elvis Costello, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Ariel Pink, and many, many others, including these five.
U2, “TRIP THROUGH YOUR WIRES”
Thanks to Daniel Lanois, several U2 songs have incorporated the omnichord, including the classic “With or Without You”, but you have to listen carefully to hear it. Another track from Joshua Tree that the omnichord is more noticeable is the underrated, moody blues-rock number, “Trip Through Your Wires”. Listen to the instrumentation, and you’ll spot the omnichord. And if you can’t hear it, wait until the very end and you’ll most definitely hear it.
MY MORNING JACKET, “TOUCH ME I’M GOING TO SCREAM PART II”
Maybe the one band that helped the omnichord’s resurgence is My Morning Jacket’s Evil Urges, which was released in 2008. The one track where the omnichord plays a starring role is the pulsating, house-infused number, “Touch Me I’m Going to Scream Part II”. This tracks demonstrates how the omnichord can be used to create hypnotic and club-style beats, taking on the role of a synthesizer. And for what it’s worth, frontman Jim James has never been bashful about playing this instrument, often seen holding the omnichord high in the air as he plays it during MMJ’s live shows.
SHARON VAN ETTEN, “BREAK ME”
Sharon Van Etten is a big fan of the omnichord, which she was introduced to by her bandmate Heather Woods Broderick to perform “Magic Chords” on. Now, she won’t leave home without it – well, she won’t play a show without it. She’s also broken it out solo, like when she “serenaded” the Refinery 29 staff, performing “Taking Chances” solely with the omnichord. Another track where the omnichord is omnipresent (sorry, couldn’t help ourselves) is “Break Me” from this year’s superb Are We There, an extremely personal and resounding indie album that has been nearly universally applauded (including by us). She also used Omnichord on the album closing “Every Time The Sun Comes Up”. Here’s her performance of “Break Me” on the Jimmy Kimmel Show and listen to how the omnichord’s depth create a haunting quality to this heartrending song, which goes incredibly well with Van Etten’s voice as well as a fantastic guitar part from Doug Keith.
SLOTHRUST, “NO EYE CANDY”
Slothrust’s Of Course You Do is one of the most badass records you’ll hear this year. Leah Wellbaum and crew use Omnichord on the track “No Eye Candy”, a heavy sounding grunge rocker. The omnichord is employed to create a brooding build before the track kicks into some full-throttle rocking. Slothrust shows us that omnichords can rock just as hard as guitars.
DAVID BOWIE, “HEATHEN”
It’s easy to miss the omnichord in this David Bowie classic given the many layers, textures, and instruments heard on the track but the omnichord is there. It plays a supporting role with the slight “tings” and the occasional slight hum in the background. The song is the title track to Bowie’s 22nd album, which was released in 2002 when the omnichord was becoming obsolete.
Follow The Revue On...
Share This Article On...