Centro-Matic / Fort Recovery
|18-Jun-2006 12:06 pm||Contributed by: Anonymous||Music Reviews|
If you've never heard of Centro-Matic, you'll be as surprised as I was to learn that they've been around for over 10 years and have at least ten full albums and a couple of EPs to their credit. The band was formed in Denton, Texas by guitarist and lead singer/songwriter Will Johnson, but these guys get around. As you can see from the tour schedule on their website they are maintaining a dizzying pace of 150 shows a year. I was very disappointed to learn that I missed them when they were in Toronto back in April.
I can easily remember the first time I listened to their latest album, Fort Recovery. Shortly into the first track, Covered Up In Mines, I heard a distinctive squeal reminiscent of a live sound check gone awry. By the time I realized that the feedback noise was intentional, the band had laid down the song's hook and they have captivated me ever since. The second song, Calling Thermatico, follows the same beat as the first yet it picks up the pace somewhat for this fairly mellow album overall. The heavily distorted guitar is more driving and sounds influenced by The Flaming Lips, plus there are a lot more drum fills including timely usage of the ride symbol. Johnson's voice remains coarse yet deeply emotive. By the time you reach the third song, Patience for the Ride, you get totally wrapped up in the sound of the album. Whether it's intentional or not, there are at least a few Neil Young moments spread throughout the album, as in The Fugitives Have Run. And so it goes through all 12 tracks: ernest vocals, soft distorted guitar, and an easy beat. There's not a bad song on the album, so you could really start listening at any point. My advice, however, is to find a moment of calm and listen to the whole thing straight through.
I'll be watching for a local performance date because I'd love to see how they come across on stage. I fully expect, however, that this is one of the rare bands that have been able to successfully capture the intensity of their stage performance in a studio recorded format. The album definitely has a raw sound to it, yet each sound you encounter seems to serve its own specific purpose. It's clear this band has put in years of stage time together.
Until the band comes to town, they're getting a lot of air time on my iPod. I just hope it's not too long before some music exec hears what I've heard and gives these guys the kind of exposure that I believe they have earned.
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