The Record Lounge: Reviews 06/23/2011 – Centro-matic, My Morning Jacket, & Bravo, Max!

Installment two of catching up with record reviews. Yes, there will be a third next week in order to be caught up.

Centro-matic – Candidate Waltz

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It’s been almost 15 years since I first saw Centro-matic on the old Dogstar’s stage in Fort Worth. Will Johnson was all alone, a man with a guitar playing some of his first post-Funland breakup shows to smattering crowds across Dallas, Fort Worth and Denton. A lot has happened in those 15 years. The Dogstar is now TCU staple The Moon Bar, Centro-matic grew into a fully realized band with an alter-ego (South San Gabriel), Johnson has released over 30 recordings on various labels with varying personnel, solo, collaborative or as a band and relocated from Denton to Austin (they’ll always be a Denton band in my eyes), all the while quietly becoming indie darlings near and abroad.

Candidate Waltz is the 16th full-length to come from Johnson, and appears in the form of Centro-matic. Where their debut CD, Redo The Stacks resembled something such as “Guided By Wilco” (not that it was a bad thing at all), over time the band has grown into their own sound, becoming originators rather than imitators. Big, full mid-fi arrangements accompany sparse, haunting indie power pop songs that can only come from the talents of Will Johnson and company. At only 9 songs, Candidate Waltz is brief by Centro-matic standards, but just as fulfilling. Standout tracks include “Mercedes Blast”, “Shadow Follow Me”, and the album opener, “Against The Line”.

My Morning Jacket – Circuital

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I wanted to spend a little time with this before providing something that might be considered a knee-jerk reactionary review. I’ve had it about a month now, and have listened all the way through at least 15 times. I can’t find anything wrong with this record, and must label the 6th full length studio album from my favorite Louisville, KY export as simply: genius.

Not unlike Mastodon’s 2009 masterwork Crack the Skye, I cannot find a wasted moment or note. As much as I enjoy 2008’s Evil Urges, Circuital, to me feels like the natural progression of My Morning Jacket’s multi-influential sound, a solid “follow-up” to 2005’s acclaimed Z. Maybe Jim JamesMonster’s of Folk break and experience brought some new things to My Morning Jacket’s table – Circuital contains the strongest material this band has presented in its 13 year career.

Standout tracks include the title track, “Outta My System”, and the much lionized “Holding on to Black Metal”.

Bravo, Max! – Dog’s Light

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Occasionally “that” band comes along. That one you just finally catch on to and you regret that it took so long. But at least you finally caught the fire. “That” band is Dallas’ Bravo, Max!, who have been turning a lot of  heads for the past couple of years. I just finally got to see what the big deal was a few months ago at 35 Conferette, and was fully sold on them, 100 percent. Adding a soulful Americana bend to indie rock, frontman Johnny Beauford and company demonstrate exactly what “IT” is. They have it. In spades.

The sextet’s self-released debut demonstrates purity, honesty and joy to the music they create – Dog’s Light lets us all inside and affords us the ability to have a little slice of them all to ourselves. It may be a copout, but trying to pick standout tracks out of these 11 is nearly impossible, and as one friend quipped recently, Dog’s Light is “strong like bull”.

If you are not on the Bravo, Max! tip yet, get out to one of their shows, and become a believer. This could be the band that takes over Dallas.


~ by thesynaptic on June 23, 2011.

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