Denton foursome Centro-matic is nearing the 20-year mark, making it not only a North Texas institution, but a band reaching the point where inspiration isn’t always immediately at hand.
Not that singer-songwriter Will Johnson and his bandmates — Matt Pence, Scott Danbom and Mark Hedman — sound as though they’re struggling at any point on Centro-matic’s 11th studio album, Take Pride in Your Long Odds. The title track, which kicks off the record, toggles between ominous bombast and acoustic tenderness before bleeding into the midtempo gem Every Mission.
Produced by Scott Solter, the follow-up to 2011’s Candidate Waltz is yet another irresistible mix of razor-sharp lyrics, dazzling musicianship and rock songs that reveal their pleasures stubbornly. (That said, in a just world, Cross Path would be a monster radio smash.) Few bands can keep it together for so many years, and even fewer can seem so vibrant at this stage of their career.
Centro-matic celebrates its Long Odds at 7 p.m. Friday at Good Records and again Saturday at the Kessler Theater.
Van Darien, ‘Silent Sparrow’
Her soulful, raspy voice popping out of the speakers, Weatherford’s Vanessa Darien (who performs as Van Darien) commands attention from the opening moments of her new, six-track EP. Silent Sparrow, the follow-up to 2009’s Boomerang, is packed with tunes steeped in blues and folk-rock — leadoff track Low Road rides a smoldering guitar riff, while Cannonball is absolutely bewitching, and one of the best local singles I’ve heard this year. Sparrow is also loaded with local talent: Maren Morris and Joey Green co-wrote some tunes, while Beau Bedford helped produce the EP. This Sparrow soars, and marks Darien as an artist to watch. Darien celebrates Sparrow’s release Friday at Magnolia Motor Lounge and Saturday at Dallas’ Double Wide.
Eyes, Wings and Many Other Things, ‘Rural Pain’
“The moon can’t fit through a keyhole.” This line, swaddled in reverb and dropped into a collage of static and ghostly moans, serves as introduction to the new LP Rural Pain (released through Dallas indie label Pour le Corps Records) by Sean French and Colin Arnold (better known as Dallas duo Eyes, Wings and Many Other Things). It’s an immediate, gripping image, and one that alludes to the astral journey about to be undertaken. The press materials describe the 10-track affair as “an evolving mosaic of despair and loss caked in backroad mud,” and such a vivid summation is apt: Rural Pain often evokes David Lynch on moonshine, an avant-garde collision between the country and the cosmos.