AM Syndicate
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AM Syndicate

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This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music


"Drowned in Sound-UK"

Every music writer in this land and the next lives for moments like this, the moments when everything you’re doing and about to do stops, dead, as the record you’ve just put on, entirely on a whim, proves to be absolutely, astoundingly arresting. Stop. Stumble. Fall. Rest.

AM Syndicate should ring few British residents' bells – they are, after all, a relatively recently assembled ensemble from Texas with no more than a pair of demos behind them (that said, one of those exquisitely packaged demos did find itself reviewed here). Bells, though, should be sounded at once: come one, come all, to this little Empire, through the gates before thee, where mighty champions of the prog-rock cause weave mysterious riffs while a heavenly string section slices the air with bows ablaze. A place where flowers suckle on the juices of butterflies, where trees fall from oversized acorns like a shopping bag split open on a high street, painting the paving slabs pink with spilled strawberries, crushed underfoot by something beastly. A place staggering so slightly from the straight and narrow of the normal that some mightn’t notice any difference; those with magpie eyes, though, will soak everything in like a sponge before squeezing their collected experiences – tales of the strange and obscure, the frightening and alien – over each and every fellow that treads the same path they walk so carefully. A veer awry and all is lost to the demons in the depths of the forest, the red eyes in the black scrub coming alive and stealing back whatever they left exposed over the course of nine songs, of nine adventures into a world of the fantastical.

It’s in every sense deliberate, you understand: AM Syndicate give these songs as gifts, knowledgeable that the weak will succumb to their subliminal whims. Come to the forest of the Empire, do; bring with you only water enough for one way; you’re ours to keep as we will. The weak will come on the back of hooks designed to hang a selection of comparisons upon, hooks to which no real comparison can ever really attach itself. But, since without such measures no good can come of the otherwise rambled: AM Syndicate drink from the same tainted streams as ...Trail Of Dead, and their ambition beyond the constraints of what will sell – of what is deemed fashionable in the world they only co-inhabit – is on a level with any long-forgotten prog-rock beast; their minstrels sing a song born of folk’s own lore, too, when it suits them. Hear: ‘Textura Aspero’ is Espers by way of Dead Meadow, strings sighing their last as a cloaked assailant, who tempted them into its lair with Pied Piper precision, gently buries a blade deep and clean. Listen hard and the sound of blood falling onto a floor of stone and skin can be heard, against the crackle of a record’s final groove and its arm’s return to the point of origin. ‘Love Dumpster’ matches lullaby piano and wonderful violin work with words of a soul lost to wander alone, forever; its fate in its own sinewy-fingered hands.

Humour is not lost, whatever horrors await wayward souls: AM Syndicate tells us that a song is called ‘Ode To The Office Goat’, when it’s apparent that they know not what an office is. Goats, they understand: in times of hardship they slay them for all they offer forth. A voice – perhaps, although it does not seem of this world – sings for all a call, like a siren wishing passing sailors onto rocks unseen beneath apparently calm seas. Then, drums. Then, what sounds like a transmission from the other side of the sky; its message is muddled, reduced to chimes and chirps, but it surely carries word of warning. Pace is gained, tension builds, volume increases; every nerve burns. And then everything collapses – the soil about you disintegrates; the sky above falls, bringing with it every star upon which you once wished; the underworld calls but your waking hour battles valiantly against talk of children dying and the washing of blood from hands that have become so used to the staining, day in day out. A cackle echoes as eyes accept the light once more, pupils aching as retinas become accustomed once more to the realm of reality.

Flinch, realisation, progression: tasks are resumed but the blood remains cold, the senses remain heightened, a state of alert a residual effect that’s impossible to shift. The foxhole is lined, forever – return journeys will only see it contract, trapping one within its silken grip, its spears retracted until fluids require replenishing. No more trips on a whim, no more background-only airings. Development is no longer arrested, a dead stop straightened, and the writer can attempt to tackle the record that’s not at hand’s but arm’s length, just in case.

‘Attempt’ being the operative word.

Or: This is a precedent-setting release, the first great album of 2006. It sets the bar for all others to limbo under. Buy, buy, buy.

Rating: 9/10 - by Mike Diver

"Pop Matters"

“I think Blonde Redhead is the greatest rock band ever”
—Omar Chavez, AM Syndicate

Empire, AM Syndicate’s blistering debut, sounds like Arcade Fire by way of Animal Collective and Blonde Redhead, with a dose of Tom Waits, and a Tim Burton-esque Gothic romanticism to round out the mix. The band contains members of the Rhythm of Black Lines, Knife in the Water, the Rise, and Trail of the Dead, but this is no part-time project: AMS has emerged with a fully-formed sound that demands attention. Another “first great album of 2006”? Possibly so, possibly so.

The album opens with a short overture, a slow-sawed string prelude of the harmony that forms the backbone of the first real song, “Kicking a Sailor in the Teeth”. The chord progression is reminiscent of O Night Divine, strangely; but it’s no Christmas carol. Instead, we get an eerie, beautiful composition, the long-held violin melody given substance with soft splashes of electronic noise and dissonating-resolving keys. As the melody repeats, a guitar softly enters and tension builds into a busy-signal bleep-bleep-bleep…

…and the album has begun. “Kicking a Sailor in the Teeth”: the same melody, turned down behind drums and spacey (first verse) or harder-hitting (second verse) guitars, while Chavez wavers softly over the top, his voice crackling with distortion.

Throughout, the vocals are de-emphasized in the way Radiohead de-emphasizes their vocals, creating a voice-as-instrument aesthetic. And it’s fine, because Chavez’s voice is sharp-edged, made more so through the distortion added to it. Think of it as a reedier Win Butler. He’s got the deliberately ugly quality of some punk front-men, but his tunes are less melodic, more insightful; you have to work harder to understand, but there’s much more than love/lovelessness here.

In fact, there’s a strong political element to many of AMS’s songs. I suppose Empire refers to America’s position world-wise. Song titles “Obey Though Trembling Creature”, “Those Who Wave Flags”, and “Democracy for the World” clearly show an outward-looking sensibility you wouldn’t necessarily apprehend from listening just to the music, with its academic, insular shifts in tone and structure. The most obvious example is “Those Who Wave Flags”, with its menacing “Wash away the blood from these hands / Now the children will die” chorus.

There are certainly elements of prog/art-rock here in the music’s preoccupation with releasing hidden resonance in the subtleties of guitar melody/harmony, only recognized through repetition-breakdown, but not every song has the staying-power to grab your attention and hold it. Seven-and-a-half minute “Democracy for the World”, for instance, is all start-stop guitar repetitions, hovering around the same harmonies nervously, not going anywhere.

Songs like that are exceptions, though. The light-footed guitar arpeggio in “Hear! Hear!” is a wonderful, Spanish-sounding lick, perfectly accompanied by bongo drums. “Textura Aspero” is a kind of space-filled birdcall reminiscent of Animal Collective’s breathless jangle. And the album’s two twisted waltzes, “Those Who Wave Flags” and “Love Dumpster”, sit as perfect appropriations of the most conservative of Classical dances to modern-world disillusion.

Though they don’t have the cathartic, shout-out-loud tunefulness of the Arcade Fire, it’s sustenance of mood that ranks as one of AM Syndicate’s biggest triumphs on Empire. Eeriness, disillusion, desolation; they’re created and re-created with each broken guitar line. The guitars go all this way and that, with moderate distortion that somehow avoids any feeling of weight. Instead, a guitar arpeggio will fade into the background while a string melody rises up, producing texture and space. This happens, for instance, one minute into the haunting instrumental “Ode to the Office Goat”, when a simple major triad/6-3-2-3 oscillation motif is repeated and repeated, growing more desperate as guitar and electronic flourishes slowly crescendo.

In all, AM Syndicate have made a confident, intelligent debut that isn’t afraid to carve its own stories out of played and over-played guitar notes. It’s Animal Collective drained of all the upward-looking optimism; it’s the density of Blonde Redhead without the tinkling romanticism. Failing wholeheartedly on the comparisons, I think in a few months we’ll just say it’s AM Syndicate. Give it a listen—Empire deserves a lot of attention.

— 22 February 2006 - by Dan Raper


With sinuous guitar, beautiful strings, unbelievable percussion, lush thick arrangements, extended jams, trippy, heady, Eastern Indian, sounds, Texas ensemble AM Syndicate have it all. The band is definitely pushing the alt-prog envelope. Similarities to the Animal Collective abound in the sense of the bands free form arrangements; the band feels like Arcade Fire meets Radiohead meets the Decemberists. This is a good arty album. A rich thick layered cake of sound, mmmmm... dig in.

Hailing from Texas, AM Syndicate are a large band. They consist of Omar Demian Chavez (vocals, guitar, piano, keyboards, percussion, sequencer), Jaaron Sanderson (vocals, guitar), Danny Wood (vocals, bass guitar), Laura Poloskova (violin, cello), Andy Hadaway (alto saxophone), Yamal Said (keyboards, drums, percussion), Cindy Kim (keyboards). Empire is an album that is obviously making good use of all the members. Excellent arrangements mean there is a lot going on in every song, albeit tastefully. Not everything is immediately apparent, but over time, with repeated listens, the albums grows deeper and seemingly presents no bounds.

The album opens with the instrumental track, "Blind Pedestrian Crossing.” It does grab the listener's interest, but is more of a brooding tune. It could easily be a soundtrack to a movie sequence. Up next comes "Kicking a Sailor in the Teeth," which is a lot more rocking. The skillful percussion shines, this with an Animal Collective feel combined with lyrics and vocals with a harder edge step up the albums sound considerably. "Hear Hear!" is a strong standout on the album, drums are again front and center - great syncopated beats, sinewy guitar, and jazzy rhythms surround you. The ending to this song also leaves a strong impression, there is haunting violin followed by a couple saxophone tracks that sound like they are booming from a Brooklyn fire escape late at night, it definitely leaves one texturally impressed.

"Ode to the Office Goat" is another great song; it has a Brian Eno instrumental feel, with great building drums, good guitar, heady effects that together create a deep space. The album ends with "Love Dumpster,” which has a Parisian accordion feel and subtle vocals that work well, with great keys and again great strings make for a fine ending to a solid album.

Empire is thick and musically rich, the musicianship is superb throughout, the percussion is some of the best around, this along with great guitar, and beautiful string arrangements makes for a great listening experience. The songs have many levels to be explored; the Eastern Indian influences bring a dreamy psychedelic layer to this already heady sound. Fans of Animal Collective, this album should be a logical progression. AM Syndicate have taken some different approaches in their sound though, enough so to keep listeners interested as well as to progress this kind of music. Difficult to categorize into a particular music genre, people willing to explore, and who like heady, dreamy, soundscapes with a more progressive edge, will find tuning into AM Syndicate's Empire a worthwhile venture. - by Terry McDaniel Review written on 2006/05/15


Also present [beshisuto] Danny Wood of Trail Of Dead is on the register, 8 human groups of the Texas state Austen (!)Large household band, the 1st full of Am Syndicate.

The deep forest where the fog applied is made to think, Tr.2 " Kicking a Sailor in the Teeth which " it avalanches from the prelude of the weird violin and is packed. It can repel the psychedelic sound lump which leads to also The Coral in the John glee and flies. The bongo drum and the light guitar arpeggio which jump in the background, the shadow Tr.3 " Hear Hear " which melody crosses the blotch contrastively, [kaoteitsuku] [puroguretsushivu] Tr.8 7 minutes which [guruvu] keeps being produced " Democracy For The World ", from Tr.5 " Obey Thou Trembling Creature to which " organic pop Ness which [machingu] is done makes Arcade think Fire it changes to the sky [gitarihu] which repeatedly is thrown with the rhythm party which gradually it turns & develops, is perplexed to the [teimu] Barton work and in order it seems that is packed, for the world where it is full in wicked romanticism to be drawn and to move " Ode To The Office Goat " elegantly it is extraordinaryFascinate.

While the [insutourumentaru] group such as the guitar/the base/the drum/the violin/the cello/the keyboard/the saxophone, working as independent factor the sound world which keeps creating one organic matter as a whole, to also Animal Collecticve leads. It germinated from the soil, Texas, the vivid organic lock with mutation kind. -


Empire-first full length released by SickRoom Records

The Love EP-self released

Hear! Hear! off of Empire available at:

All the People Under the Sun-available at:

To the Peasants of the Emperor-from The Love EP-available at:

Doubt in Progress available at:From The Love EP


Feeling a bit camera shy


The Austin TX-based band AM Syndicate formed in the spring of 2004
from the remaining members of the art-rock project Adolfo's Reversal.
AM Syndicate's sound is a constantly evolving musical experiment -
both catchy and challenging - which is often described as a cross
between the Arcade Fire and the Animal Collective. They count among
their influences: Blonde Redhead, Simon and Garfunkel, Lady Tron,
Neutral Milk Hotel, The Brian Jonestown Massacre. AM
Syndicate played The Wall of Sound Music Festival in '05 and '06, CMJ
Music Festival '06 and SXSW '07. Core members are guitarist/vocalist
Omar Chavez, drummer Vincent Durcan, "percussionista,
keyboardist/sequencer" Golfball (yes,this is her name), and
keyboardist Cindy Kim. The group's first full-length debut album,
Empire (recorded by Jason Ward and released in 2005 through
Chicago-based Sick Room Records) met with both critical and popular
praise, being deemed the "first great record of 2006" by the UK's
Drowned in Sound and consistently charting in the top 30 on college
radio playlists. Their sophomore effort, the Love EP (recorded by Erik
Wofford), is expected to be released in 2007.