Although you can't tell from the music, Centro-Matic is a band of extremes. The quartet, formed in Denton in 1995, is staggeringly prolific; by their own estimation, "the number of Centro-Matic or related releases is in the hundreds at this point." However, the group has been dormant since 2008 — under its own name, anyway; side projects/splinter groups include South San Gabriel and an abundance of solo work — during which time front man/songwriter Will Johnson played drums for indie supergroup Monsters of Folk, and bassist Mark Hedman and Johnson both procreated. The drought is over as of last month's Candidate Waltz (Thirty Tigers), which takes a place alongside 1999's All the Falsest Hearts Can Try and 2003's Love You Just the Same in the front rank of Centro-Matic-related material. On this self-described "meat and potatoes pop album," Johnson turns his impressionist lyrical eye on Matamoros nights ("Iso-Residue"), chatter-ridden nightclubs ("All the Talkers") and sweaty Bastrop summer days ("Against the Line") with shades of Spoon, Arcade Fire and My Morning Jacket. Johnson's way with a phrase should come as no surprise to anyone who has seen his color-saturated folk art — some prints from his April 2009 "Disguised Combat, Long Haul, No Steroids" baseball-themed exhibition are still available at Cactus Music — and Candidate Waltz seems destined to dance into many a year-end Texas Top Ten list.
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Chris Gray has been Music Editor for the Houston Press since 2008. He is the proud father of a Beatles-loving toddler named Oliver.
Contact: Chris Gray