Inventions/Temporary Residence Ltd.
The mark of a truly great artist is one that despite being entrenched in a genre, still has the power to surprise you. Inventions is the side project of Matthew Cooper (Eluvium) and Mark T. Smith (Explosions in the Sky), and just as atmospheric instrumental music is the name of the game for those bands it is the same here. Soaring, echoing guitars populate the landscape on tracks like “Recipient,” and Cooper’s flair for the orchestral and the cinematic comes through on the thundering, roaring climax of “Psychic Automation.” “Flood Poems” is haunting and hypnotic with its dreamy guitar loop, a deep chorus of strings, and a powerful sound bite of the same soulful yawp over and over. “Luminous Insects” incurs visions of a million fireflies at dusk, and “Sun Locations/Sun Coda” broadens with warped synths and tribal-sounding bass lines, making Inventions a deliciously evocative experience you won’t soon forget.
Dex Romweber Duo
Images 13/Bloodshot Records
This duo’s third album is something else. When Romweber isn’t busy sounding like the love child of Elvis and Roy Orbison, he’s channeling Nick Cave for added measure. And if that isn’t enough to pique your interest, Images 13 is chock-full of so many different styles that you’ll be amazed by how it comes together so smoothly. The pulsating, intimidating surf rock of “Roll On” is a nice way to kick off the album, but when Romweber follows this up with the spaghetti western-tinged Americana rock track “Long Battle Coming,” you quickly realize that his maverick spirit is taking this album to some wildly different places. “I Don’t Want to Listen” has a dreamy, ’50s-era slow dance feel to it, while “So Sad About Us,” fuses classic pop sensibilities with garage rock. Romweber and his sister Sara—who plays drums—imbue Images 13 with an ominous beauty that is hard to ignore.
Heather Maloney + Darlingside
This pairing is nothing short of exquisite. Maloney is a singer-songwriter with a rich set of pipes, and Darlingside is an outstanding string rock quartet—when the two come together on Woodstock, the result is pure magic. The mournful Americana of “You Forget” is augmented by both Maloney’s vocals as well as Darlingside singer David Senft’s more understated singing, making for powerful listening. On the gorgeous folk track “Roadside Lily,” Maloney practically makes you cry with her tale of a daughter forever wondering why her dad left. “Whippoorwill” is possessed of an elegant bluegrass, while “No Shortcuts” features ominous strings. When the two combine forces on the stirring title track penned by Joni Mitchell, Maloney’s vocals alone will make your spine tingle, but when Darlingside comes in with its four-part harmonies, it’s pure majesty.