Creative, interesting and original, for those who like their music dark, emotional and melancholy.
‘Omen’ is the debut album from Fox Apts., a new alternative rock band from California comprising of lead singer Dave Kajganich, guitarist and bassist Jerry Popiel, and drummer Tom Stickley. The band is named for a hypothetical apartment building whose stories and tenants will change from album to album, but whose odd craftsmanship, uncanny spaces, and hidden passageways are built in.
The band headed to North Carolina to record ‘Omen’ at The Fidelitorium with legendary producer Mitch Easter. They wanted it to be stitched through with an appreciation for the darker threads of American roots music—murder ballads, apocalypse songs and the like—but with a decidedly ‘80s sonic palette from some of the band’s long-standing alt-rock influences. It is a mix that creates moments across the album that feel sampled from the soundtracks of psychological horror films from decades past, most notably the introduction of ‘Monday Murders’, and if you like your music dark, emotional and melancholy, then this is for you! The album unfolds like a book of cautionary tales; in the world of ‘Omen‘ you’re never completely safe, even at home.
Album opener ‘Stars Of The 10-32‘ is the first song the band ever wrote together. It is a deliberate choice for track one as it introduces and showcases their sound- alt rock with shades of roots and folk- as well as the grim subject matter that features in so many of the compositions. 10-32 is the police dispatcher code for drowning, and the song is about two boys who drown in a river and come back in their friend’s dreams decades later. ‘Monday Murders‘ comes from a conversation over a dinner that Kajganich attended that led to the startling revelation that everyone at the table knew someone who’d recently died a violent death. ‘Noon Moon‘ is a song about a gay man mercilessly bullied by his sister. ‘Robert Pruett‘ is about a real-life encounter Kajganich had with a man incarcerated on Death Row in Texas. ‘Deseret‘ is about a girl killed in a flash flood just before she was about to move in with her boyfriend. There is little light relief.
Highlights of the album are two stripped-back tracks with the banjo and heartfelt harmonies coming to the fore: ‘Come And See’, a song about war and the number of young men, in every era, who want to rush into battle, with images of death and destruction on the battlefield conveyed by the haunting arrangements; and the atmospheric murder ballad ‘Founders Blues‘, an eerie, captivating song in which Kajganich’s rich vocals are particularly impressive.
Fox Apts are a very talented band and their music is creative, interesting and original. Even if the subject matter over the course of the whole album is somewhat heavy going, ‘Omen‘ is well worth investigating.