WMUH presents OHMME with special guest Francesca Blanchard
Doors: 7:30 PM
21+ to Drink
Already celebrated as the “Heart of Chicago’s Music Community” (Noisey) by both fans and tastemakers alike, OHMME (aka the duo of Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart) amalgamate the aggressive and the meditative on their bold debut full-length album, Parts.
Still in their 20s, Stewart and Cunningham are both classically trained musicians and are established players within the Chicago music scene. They are especially involved in performing and working for venues within the local experimental music scene. They’re constant collaborators and have recorded and toured with homegrown acts as varied as Tweedy, Whitney, Chance The Rapper and Twin Peaks.
Cunningham and Stewart are multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriters with a penchant for two instruments in particular. “The band started because we knew we could sing well together and we wanted to make some noise with the guitar,” says Cunningham. Stewart elaborates, “Sima and I are both trained classical pianists and we know many of the sonic spaces keyboards have to offer. Since we were interested in experimenting and creating something different from what we had both done in the past, we chose guitar as our outlet for this band. We wanted to create both new and uncomfortable parameters for ourselves to force us into a different creative space.” These guitar-heavy experiments are sometimes earthy and resounding, at other times shimmering and buzzing—swirling around the duo’s expertly crafted vocals while creating a chaotic bed of harmony. Cunningham’s smoky alto complements Stewart’s higher-register croon, all underpinned by the restrained yet highly inventive polyrhythmic percussion of drummer Matt Carroll. Think Amber Coffman and Angel Deradoorian-era Dirty Projectors.
Enlisting fellow Chicago cohorts Doug McCombs (Tortoise), Ken Vandermark and cellist Tomeka Reid, OHMME recorded and self-produced Parts from Cunningham’s Logan Square home studio, Fox Hall. With Parts, OHMME “wanted to capture a moment in time instead of something perfect.” The results are thrilling: from the pure pop opening track “Icon” to the candied sludge of “Peach” to the skipping rhythms of “Parts” and the dusky closer “Walk Me,” Parts draws from influences as diverse as Kate Bush and Brian Eno’s Here Come the Warm Jets to jazz and improvisational music, making for an electric debut listening experience.
This range from sweetly shiny 2-minute hypnotic bangers to woozy and sprawling 7-minute long tracks boasting moodily atmospheric wafting guitars and piercing feedback shows a band colliding thoughtfulness and creative ingenuity to produce music as unique as it is earworm-worthy. With Parts, OHMME manage to organically marry a breadth of divergent styles into an album that is cohesive, daring, and distinctly their own.
Francesca Blanchard is a French-American songwriter based in Burlington, Vermont. Since the release of her bilingual folk debut Deux Visions in 2015, the Vermont-via-France native has been busy redefining her wheelhouse.
After a year of extensive touring throughout the US and Europe, Blanchard took some time to rediscover what she wanted to say - and how to say it. Time spent backpacking through the Colorado Rockies and volunteering as a music teacher in Ecuador informed Blanchard's new direction in sound, but it wasn’t until returning home that she regenerated the kind of music she'd make.
With powerful vocals and provocatively vulnerable lyrics, Blanchard has reclaimed the stage with confidence and charisma. Her newest songs scope a variety of genres and topics, through self-effacing indie-pop with a hint of her acoustic roots. She covers subjects from the madness of social media to the ache of lost love, all the while charming her audience with honest storytelling and a refreshingly personal performance. Blanchard’s newest work is her most daring and relatable yet. Her new EP is due for release Spring 2020.