“Broke Kids” by The Omnis Collective, made up of Nova Wave and TBD, has a great post-punk riff looping throughout. Any fan of Texas is the Reason, JawBreaker, Piebald, or At the Drive In will appreciate the unintentional major-7th/minor progression happening in this tune. The Omnis Collective are not too caught up with the past, however. What would have been once deemed the “break-down” in many-a earlier punk or post-punk songs, signalling the “mosh” part, The Collective have taken it upon themselves to build an entire song around that one section.
The lyrics almost recall a working-class English town, with its hard-knock “broke kids” walking around aimlessly. The deep, gin-soaked moans of the narrator drive the point home with the line, “each day goes by, flick of a light everything is fine till the day turns to night.” With this, the scene is established and we are brought right into the boys’ down-trodden world.
While “Broke Kids” definitely sounds like something made on a laptop, evident in the programmed drums and loopy guitar mentioned earlier, this actually works in their favour. These guys would greatly benefit from riding on the lo-fi wave happening in the SoundCloud scene these days. Their song is a testament to just how little you need to produce something that is both listenable and effective. I mean, in some ways, this is a track that can be made on a mobile phone and an iRig.
The democratization of music tools represents a major shift that’s happened in the music industry in recent times. Before, there was really no getting around high studio prices and large-scale distribution networks in order for an artist to produce a decent-sounding song and have it reach an audience outside of their group of five friends. Things are much different now with the proliferation of DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations), the development of affordable smartphones, and the ever-increasing number of music applications being made. Furthermore, when you consider the growing popularity of DSPs (Digital Streaming Platforms), the distribution channels for artists now are much more accessible.
The Omnis Collective certainly have made good use of this shift, building “Broke Kids” with an electronic mosh-inspiring beat, and a smooth-and-sombre GarageBand-type guitar loop. Listen to the emotionally-depressed undertones of the music, as they back the sentiment felt by the narrator in the chorus of the song: “this one’s for the broke kids we were never cool kids.”
While working-class anthems used to be championed by the Mellencamps and Springsteen’s of yesterday’s enormous music industry, today’s anthems are done with much more modest means of production, but arguably with a wider reach and in a much more direct fashion.
Listen to “Broke Kids” here.