Will Johnson, a most prolific songwriter, fronted Centro-matic, a quartet based
in Texas that, after a series of EPs, singles and cassettes, debuted with
Redo the Stacks (1997). Their sound, that straddles the border between
psychedelic-pop, cow-punk, noise-rock and emo-core (but definitely shuns
post-rock), was defined and modified through
Navigational (1999), that would remain one of their best,
The Static vs. Strings Vol 1 (1999), that collects leftovers,
All the Falsest Hearts Can Try (Quality Park, 2000), perhaps their most
South San Gabriel Songs/Music (2000), that spawned a side project,
Distance and Clime (Idol, 2001),
Love You Just the Same (Misra, 2003), with Biology Tricks,
and Fort Recovery (2006).
Will Johnson debuted solo with Murder Of Tides (2002) and
Survey/Voyage (2005), and
launched a parallel project, South San Gabriel, that debuted with
Welcome Convalescense (2003).
South San Gabriel and Centro-matic shared the double-disc
Dual Hawks (2008).
Will Johnson released another album under his own name, Vultures Await (2004), and a new South San Gabriel work, the
allegorical concept album The Carlton Chronicles (Misra, 2005), perhaps
his most mature work yet.
Will Johnson also played in Monsters of Folk and the Undertow Orchestra.
Centro-Matic's mini-album Candidate Waltz (2011) was another
collection of dysfunctional alt-country litanies
(Only in My Double Mind, All the Talkers).
Crosby Stills Nash & Young must have been
the inspiration for the supergroup formed by
Son Volt's Jay Farrar, Centro-matic's Will Johnson, Anders Parker
and My Morning Jacket's Jim James that debuted with
New Multitudes (2012), a concept devoted to reinventing the music for
old Woody Guthrie lyrics.
Best is James' Talking Empty Bed Blues, that recaptures the dejected
pathos of the "dust bowl ballads".
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