Day In the City is among my Top Five picks for this year in spite of the fact that it was released last year. I defy you to call me on it because few CDs from this year's crop are as good, simple as that. Downloading and the indie movement, among other things, have warped the whole idea of music-as-timeline out of all recognition anyway, so why shouldn't I be able to claim this as a 2006 gem? It has everything I want—melody, harmony, depth, musicianship, production and shockingly good songwriting—so 2006, it is, and how incredibly good it sounds among some of the best releases in this Brave New World of Music, like Hem's Funnel Cloud and Greg Laswell's Through Toledo and Maggi, Pierce & E.J.'s Silver (also a year late and a dollar short, but incredible nonetheless).
OAMI somehow slipped through the cracks is all and it's not hard these days, but really good music is like oil in water and will float to the top somehow. It has already, in my pond, and I couldn't be happier.
There is a Brit Pop feel to some tracks which immediately caught my ear, hooks being key (Typical Reaction, Always On My Mind and Story About Love reflect melody which only the British at one time could provide), but there is depth beyond pop. Sprinkled sporadically throughout the CD are bits and pieces which make these more than just songs—more like musical experiences. Misunderstood and Mechanical Flowers are eerily close to both sound and feel of tracks from Greg Laswell's "Through Toledo" (an exceptional project in its own right—if you haven't sampled it, I heartily suggest that you do). In fact, the title track here, Day In the City, could fit nicely anywhere on Laswell's CD without a skip. That, my friends, is a stone compliment.
Of course, OAMI is not just about pop. Two tracks stand apart from the rest: The Surgery, an ethereal floater with a light jazz riff and octave-apart vocals a la perfecto and the softer feel of maybe a modern Suicide Is Painless; and Shine On, another jazzy track which will have even pop fans enthralled thanks to a running bass on which various players build (Etienne Charles's trumpet echoes Randy Brecker's work with the overlooked and excellent '70s group, White Elephant, while Christine Brown helps produce mood with understated but necessary violin and cello). Both are, to my mind, jazz for the jazzless, having that crossover ability while keeping roots intact.
While I know little about Tim DeLaney, co-producer and recordist, I now hold him in highest regard for he captured with little twists of the knob hidden treasures beneath the main tracks which will keep the tracks fresh over many listenings (check out Day In the City for some of those far-in-the-background touches). I'm sure I will be doing some web searches soon to see what else his fingers have touched.
As for the group, they speak (or play) for themselves. Twelve fine songs, some even great, say they are better together than apart and, yes, Tomer Oami wrote and sang lead, but dollars to donuts every night he points to the members of the group because they are as good as they come, at least when it comes to Oamimusic. And while I almost hate to separate anyone from the group, James Bagley did a yeoman's job on guitar and stringed instruments and Thea Vorass with her restrained voice added that needed sound at various times on the poppest of the songs.
One does not come across a project this good that often, so my suggestion would be to search out OAMI on the Net and sample a bit. Sample it more than a bit if you really want to get it, for two minutes of a track is hardly enough to really hear it, but do it. These guys are way worth it. And Tomer, send me an email. I'd love to know what other projects are on the horizon.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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