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Tuesday, 05 July 2011 14:49

Will Johnson (of Centro-matic) 7/5/11

Will Johnson (of Centro-matic) 7/5/11 Kate McDaniel
Written by Annah Bender
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About this Media...

  • Date Recorded: July 5, 2011
  • Artist / Band: Will Johnson (of Centro-matic)
  • Hosting Show: Coin-Operated Radio
  • Sound: Dan Kinney

Centro-matic's lo-fi alt-country spans emotions quiet and loud. At the center of that sound is Will Johnson, the somewhat accidental lead vocalist for the Texas quartet.

As a full-fledged Renaissance man Johnson has paintings for sale, tours with Conor Oberst and M. Ward under his belt and a decade-plus solo career, still unfolding. During this acoustic set at the KDHX studios, he played some of his own songs, as well as a few Centro-matic numbers off the new release, Candidate Waltz. It's the band's most artfully executed album yet: the bigger, brighter sounds are offset by storytelling lyrics.

"Shadow, Follow Me" is a beautiful folk song well-suited to Will's thick baritone. This meandering tune draws parallels between twilight's lengthening shadows and the twilight of life that awaits us all: "There's a comfort in the time that you're given, a comfort I can't see."

Next up is "Iso Residue," which should be poised to become one of the major hits off Candidate Waltz. The contrast between Johnson's stripped-down version and the band's is striking. Centro-matic's "Iso Residue" is rollicking and abandoned in its heartbreak, while Will's acoustic reading underscores the longing and loneliness -- that feeling of drinking alone, again, in the dark.

In contrast, the thoughtful wordplay of "Argonne Limit Co." tells the story of Rust Belt desolation and "radioactive overflow" in a place where "only the absentees bothered to show." Finally, the drowsily strummed "Little Raider" rounds out a set that showcases Johnson's capacity for slow but sure personal songwriting.

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