Tuesday, June 3, 2014

REVIEW: Centro-matic - Take Pride In Your Long Odds

A new Centro-matic album is a special event at WYMA, and good news for anybody who likes good, honest guitar rock that gets you right in here. The band has released its 11th album, Take Pride In Your Long Odds, and throughout its 12 tracks, the band address the topic of its title, as singer and songwriter Will Johnson said: "If there are entities telling you that you can't do something, that there's no way something is gonna happen for you—take pride in your work and prove them wrong. If it's worth it to you, you shouldn't give it any less of a chance because of what someone else says." If you're a fan of this band, that attitude makes perfect sense and is something to be truly grateful for, because it's kept these guys making music for 17 years, through everything that life can throw at them. Every record, every opportunity to see them live, is a joyous occasion and absolutely not to be taken for granted.

Previously we shared the track "Salty Disciple", and they've put together a trippy video to accompany the song:

That's a great track, but the treasure here is "Academy of Lunkers" - it's the one with the most distinctive Pence drum intro (a la "The Mighty Midshipman") and it opens up the quickest of any track on here, to feature a great Will Johnson vocal, guitar feedback and the combination of melody and noise that nobody seems to do as well as Centro-matic. It also contains some place references only residents of Denton will likely get (mentioning "you were romancing every sunset alone on Bonnie Brae" - one of the surest ways North out of town, if I recall correctly, and "met you by McKenna Park, you were struggling with all your shivers"). What's it all about? As usual, Johnson never says directly. Your impressions are what's important. Centro-matic are artists, man. Listen, think, and most of all, enjoy:

Well, it's that one or "Relative Unto the Aces" and its perfect lead guitar riding on top of Pence's perfect beat, Hedman's perfect bass line and Danbom's - what are those things?

The next greatest track is "On the Ride Back" - an absolutely beautiful 5:23 of guitar chords, perfect rhythm and vocals (both Johnson's lead and the harmonies that float in and out), and some devastating guitar solos that start about 2:00 in... not to mention some heavy sonic experimentation that reminded me of drummer Matt Pence's production work with True Widow.

There are plenty of terrific moments - the transition from "Calling You Glad" into "Cynthia Glass", the pretty acoustic on "Every Mission", swirling synthesizers on "Anything Torn Out"... "Cross Path" calls to mind "All The Talkers", one of the strongest tracks on Centro-matic's last album Candidate Waltz - they worked with the same producer, Scott Solter, for both records.

The closer, "Through The Fog, Then Down" is a beauty, too - there is not anything close to a weak track on the album - but it's especially gorgeous, and sort of blasted, with its juxtaposition of a piano reminiscent of Lennon's "Imagine" and a fuzzy, distorted guitar.

It's another beautiful collection of songs - I expected nothing less, but that does not diminish the pleasure a bit. It's out today (June 3).

Centro-matic website

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