Reviews for Hawk Dive
Hawk Dive is the fourth album by Tony Venuto and Liam Nelson, and their second under the name Omega Tones. Who plays what is not clear, but other contributors are Eyal Satat, Chandler Smiley, Noah Kravitz and Ben Venuto. Based in Oakland, California, Omega Tones compare themselves musically to Modest Mouse, Kurt Vile, and Neil Young. For myself I heard echoes of Lou Reed and the Ramones.
Yet another pandemic project, Hawk Dive was created step by step with each instrument recorded separately. Beginning with temp beats and scratch vocals, the songs became more band-like as parts were added or rerecorded. The final product was given professional sheen by Marc Felish at Dominion Mastering. Not surprisingly, the strongest aspects of these tracks are the beats and rhythm instruments. The bass and drums are well-recorded and nicely played. There’s a winning simplicity to a lot of the songs and arrangements.
However, from a mix standpoint, most of the focus is on the vocals, which I often find to be the least interesting aspect. The lead singer (I’m guessing it’s songwriter Tony Venuto) has a solid rock voice, but he’s always double-tracked with few added harmonies. The problem is, more vocal tracks are not necessarily better. Nobody ever said Lou Reed had a pitch-perfect voice, but he had the confidence and charisma to record just one lead vocal. If only for variety, I would have liked to hear some Omega Tones songs with a single lead vocal, as the doubling is not always on the money.
Most of the lyrics, which were created by extrapolating on temporary vocals, have to do with different kinds of unrequited love. Sometimes the singer is taking charge, and other times he’s running for his life.
The opening song “Now It’s Cold” is a funky, robotic treat with some great vocals and buzzy, stabbing guitars, and there’s a winning lead guitar break halfway through. Lyrically the tone of the album is set with the chorus: “I feel alright, each and very night / As long as you’re in the zone / I couldn’t have a care about the clothes you wear / Just don’t want to be alone.”
“Cold-Hearted Haters” has an early Velvet Underground psychedelic feel, which is funny because a later song's lyric states: “You can’t stand the sound of Velvet Underground.”
“All I Can See” is an album highlight with great fuzzy hooks and a cookin’ beat; too bad it’s barely two minutes! “Over My Head” is another strong track with an irresistible acoustic guitar and bass groove. It’s my kind of love song, where the singer realizes he’s “in over his head…and I know if you stay here I’ll wind up dead.” A slippery fuzz guitar lead ends the tune. “Baby Bullet Tambourine” combines a Joey Ramone-like vocal with sound effects and voice samples against a wah-wah shuffle. This relationship is slightly better than the last one, as this young lady is just “…always gonna tell me about her terrible time.”
“Change (Don’t Drown)” is a pretty good medium tempo rocker that unfortunately has some of the weaker vocals on the album. “Torn In America” is a funky track with very cool sound effect interludes. The final song “Heaven Knows” is also the longest at almost six minutes. Anchored by lush acoustic guitars, this nicely-composed tune finally throws in the towel on the singer’s tortured relationships. “When I try all day just to get away from the places you’d go / If I cry all day, or just waste away, would you even know?” It’s a very good song that could have benefited from a more careful recording.
Overall there’s plenty here to hold interest. As noted, the professional mastering job brings everything together into a pleasing audio template, and there’s enough talent shown here - especially with the distaff methods of creating these songs to keep an eye on Omega Tones’ future.
Benjamin Steed, Igloo Magazine
Hawk Dive is the most recent contribution from California rock band Omega Tones, a collaborative effort between musicians Tony Venuto and Liam Nelson. With Hawk Dive, we see a rich collaboration with a multitude of musicians that result in a memorable diversity in style, culminating in a concentrated blast of hard rock veiling much more. The tunes are big, bold and sure of themselves, providing a strong energy throughout the record. This album jumps through several genres and styles, but a grounded consistency is still found prevalent across the whole release. Throughout Hawk Dive, we hear influences of blues-rock in the chord progressions such as in Peeking In The Keyhole, funk in some of the sweeping guitars and beats as heard in Now It’s Cold, and driving rock-folk vibes as heard in Over My Head. A definite collection of chill and summery California rock jams, this album naturally calls back to a certain nostalgia of 90s rock akin to that of early Beck or Sunny Day Real Estate.
On a technical level, the performance and production of this album is excellent. Clearly the band knows exactly what they’re doing and what they wanted to achieve with this album, and the result is a well-polished record that boasts well-performed musicianship topped off with rich production that brings it all together. Even with this, the album has a certain power that gives the feeling of being performed live, recognised in certain recording techniques of the instruments and effects heard on the vocals. All of this only adds to the album’s charm.
Hawk Dive is a great achievement from Omega Tones and it’s certainly not one to miss.
Omega Tones delivers an updated take on alternative rock with the wild and wonderful “Hawk Drive”. The densely packed album contains many layers, resulting in a vast sea of sound. Within ornate arrangements are infectious hooks that help to center them. Stylistically they bring together elements of krautrock, indie rock, and pop.
References abound throughout the entirety of the album. Touching upon the Flaming Lips’ penchant for experimentation within a pop context, these pieces also bring in a bit of Mercury Rev’s magnum opus, their sprawling “Yerself is Steam”. Omega Tones allows these influences to filter into their overall sound while maintaining their own unique spirit. A giant approach means that the album works best when the listener surrenders to the music’s whims, for they forgo a straightforward take for something much more intriguing. Various twists and turns within the album help its clever, well-thought-out narrative to take form, one that brings together the real with the imagined to create something special.
A motorik funk opens the album up on the driving pulse of “Now It’s Cold”. “Peeking in the Keyhole” loosens things up a bit while the grooves hold steady. The group possesses great interplay and the rhythm section absolutely kills it. With an updated blues comes the spaced-out defiance of “Cold-Hearted Haters”. Vocals swim through the din and themselves are subjected to great dollops of distortion, for their energy is infectious. On “All I Can See” they show off their storytelling abilities as the song deftly balances between folk and rock in a satisfying hybrid. Energy pours out of the freewheeling “Over My Head”.
“Baby Bullet Tambourine” features some wonderful guitar effects, giving it a summery, surf rock flavor. Easily the highlight comes from the Boredoms-referencing loopy riffs of “Change (Don’t Drown)”. Lyrics have a strong sense of purpose as the song has a dazed quality to it. Percussion gains a tactile quality with the spacious and insightful “Torn in America”. A bit of hope graces the defiance of “Lift Yourself Up” where they have a Spoon like strut fully in place. “Heaven Knows” nicely brings the album to a close on a reflective note.
“Hawk Dive” shows off the undeniable charm and chops of Omega Tones in sculpting an aural universe that feels warm, welcoming and alive.
Oakland California’s upcoming band, Omega Tones, used their creativity and unique style to create their new album “Hawk Dive” during quarantine due to Covid-19. With all the tracks recorded separately in each room, the band made sure to spend time re-recording instruments such as a new drum track to create a livelier sound to each song. “Hawk Dive” is an alternative rock album introducing ten fun and enjoyable tracks.
With an edgy, rock feel to introduce the album, “Now It’s Cold” starts off energetic, leading the way with electric guitar and drums. This track is about not wanting to feel alone – in need of sharing a desired warmth with someone.
“Peeking In The Keyhole” is another lively track, definitely bringing in that alternative rock feel. The lyrics deliver a lot of imagery to express the meaning behind the piece.
As a song with a few words of encouragement, “Cold Hearted Haters” uses creative lyrics to convey what it’s like to deal with the negativity of unwanted people. “Cold Hearted Haters take what they don’t even know – cold hearted haters’ words cut like a knife”.
“All I Can See” blends in several instruments creating a lively sound. Similar to the second track on the album, this also uses a fine use of symbolism.
“Over My Head” is an upbeat piece about a trying to escape from a toxic relationship with a manipulative lover. What makes this one so memorable are the series of clever lyrics it uses. The consistent guitar rhythm throughout will have you nodding your head to the beat.
“Baby Bullet Tambourine” brings in an enjoyably retro intro – a witty tune about trying to figure out the meaning of a word that has no meaning.
“Change” is an uplifting piece about progressing yourself and letting go of your past to be able to have a better future.
“Torn in America” expresses the current chaos dividing the country. “Everybody says what they think they should. Got too many words, not enough thought. Too much collected, not enough taught” This is another creative track, as it not only uses instruments to portray sound, but also the noise of a large crowd of people.
“Lift Yourself Up” is a groovy tune encouraging one to do exactly as the title states, lift yourself up. In other words, do not let any unfortunate situation bring you down. “When your mind is bringing you down, you gotta get up, you gotta get around”.
“Heaven Knows” is a calmer track on the album. This one is about facing challenging times, knowing that this is not an easy thing to do. Truly a heartening outro, as it expresses uplifting and strength.
The album was nothing shy of expressing feelings, emotions, and real-world situations.
Evangeline W., Freelance Music Critic
Hawk Dive by Omega Tones is a perfect blend of indie and electronica with standout songs from start to finish. This album is mixed with master craftsmanship to blend all sounds together equally. Diverse songs include the intro track "Now It's Cold" and other substantial songs such as "Torn In America" demonstrate the diversity of the group to blend traditional rock with a new melody unlike any other. Omega Tones is a band that can be compared to 90's influences such as Primus and Ween with an individual sound to take Hawk Dive to the new era of rock.