Omni, "Plastic Pyramid" (Sub Pop)

Atlanta trio Omni are one of those neo-post-punk groups who seemingly found inspiration through Pavement and Wire. Meaning, they—guitarist Frankie Broyles, singer/bassist Philip Frobos, and drummer Chris Yonker—love spiky guitar sounds, staccato rhythms, and unobviously infectious hooks in equal measure.

I somehow missed Omni's 2019 debut for Sub Pop, Networker, but catching up with it now, I realize that was a grave error. Its 11 songs possess a casual tautness and almost Canterbury-prog-level tunefulness that make rock seem like it still has some vital possibilities. Sub Pop's knack for finding and supporting rock bands who don't make you roll your eyes and/or shrug—a rare feat in the 2020s—remains impressive.

Omni's effortless brilliance continues to flourish on the new LP, Souvenir. Favoring concision (all 11 tracks clock in at under four minutes), Omni champion punk's avoidance of extraneous instrumental bullshit while flaunting chops that put to shame those of most other punk musicians. This is their most Wire-like attribute, and it's a big reason why I dig Omni so much. Their songs sound unpredictable yet somehow inevitable, and as tightly plotted as an Elmore Leonard novel. Some of the chord progressions flirt with whimsy yet never topple into cloyingness. Difficult feats executed nonchalantly!

Highlights abound on Souvenir. "Common Mistakes" features fleet, athletic rock with clean lines and glitteringly rusty surfaces; "INTL Waters" recalls the lyrical loquacity and knotty, labyrinthine structures of underrated SST Records group Slovenly; "Double Negative" offers an oblique homage to the Knack's "My Sharona." Best of all is "Plastic Pyramid," the album's most propulsive cut, with Frobos and Automatic's Izzy Glaudini trading world-weary vocals about disposable consumer culture over a surging rhythm and frayed-wire guitar slashes. The controlled rave-up near the end unexpectedly conjures a mega-jam between Television and the Police. Rock.

Domenica Diavoleria, "Artificial Limb Reliquary" (Eiderdown) 

Coming off the intricately detailed desolation of her 2022 debut LP, Forever Your Salesgirl, Olympia producer Domenica Diavoleria (aka Domenica Clark) returns with another intriguing full-length on Seattle's long-running home of experimental goodness, Eiderdown Records, titled Orange Clearing. Whereas Salesgirl evoked the hollowed-out feeling of capitalism's funeral, Orange Clearing is being promoted as a children's album. (Diavoleria—a former DJ at Hollow Earth Radio and at KAOS in Olympia—wrote and mixed the record while she was pregnant.) If that is the case, then Orange Clearing is for very mature kids who are unafraid of haunting atmospheres. 

Sure, "Whirligig" is a beloved fairground ride, but in Diavoleria's skilled hands, it's also a portal into a soundworld of microscopic wonders, perhaps the magnified machinations of an earthworm's nervous system. Named after a defunct Seattle Center attraction, "Fun Forest" takes the form of a soothing drone with undercurrents of distant distress beneath the palliative tones. It's an exemplar of competing forces, proving again the importance of tension in ambient music. "Tress" creeps eerily into zones that Brian Eno laid down with albums such as On Land and Apollo. So desolate, so minutely beautiful. 

The album's first single, "Artificial Limb Reliquary," contains a forlorn drone hinting at unfathomable sadness. Smeared bell timbres contribute to a chilled uneasiness, a sense of submerging into an icy pool, leading to a fitful eternal rest. Fun for the whole family—provided they like music of splendid isolation and artful darkness.

Orange Clearing is released on cassette and digitally on April 5.