Centro-Matic - Fort Recovery
From Denton, Texas, Centro-Matic formed in 1995 as a side project for guitarist Will Johnson, evolving into a fully-fledged band in 1997. A prolific writer, Johnson and the band have recorded eight albums prior to "Fort Recovery", in their various guises. Will Johnson has also released his own solo albums, and the band even have a side project, "South San Gabriel" - the same band with guest musicians for a more subdued affair.
"Fort Recovery", their first release on UK label "Cooking Vinyl", has a very American sound. it is also a varied album, full of different moods and textures, from the Bob Mould sounding "Calling Thermatico" to the more laid back and reflective "I See Through You". This is one of the better songs on the album, a gentle, laid back piece, played on a soft acoustic with a gentle keyboard accompaniment. It brings to mind thoughts of deserts, and cactus, and wide-open spaces, and is very fine indeed.
They are also capable of writing pretty good songs as well - "Triggers and Trash Heaps" feels like Crowded House, with a gruffer vocal from Johnson. The piano playing (particularly the Rhodes that pops up on a few tracks) is superb throughout this album, adding flavour to a lot of the songs, particularly on "Nothing I Ever Seen", which almost sounds like a Wings track at times. Also good is "Take the Maps and Run", a fiery, restrained sounding percussion led piece.
The album ends on "Take a Rake", and its an epic piece, full of soaring guitars and keyboards, a real slice of America. As a song, it meanders somewhat towards the end, but ends the album on a distinct high. Whether this band will have much success outside of their homeland remains to be seen, but fans of the American music scene will enjoy this album enormously.