Centro-matic takes robust turn on new LP 'Candidate Waltz'

Although Centro-matic rarely gets the attention it deserves, the Denton, Texas, band has spent the past 16 years quietly amassing a consistently compelling catalog of rootsy indie-rock on 10 albums, half a dozen EPs and offerings from offshoot projects such as South San Gabriel, to say nothing of leader Will Johnson’s solo outings.

Even the best discographies have standout entries, however, and Centro-matic’s new album is one of them. “Candidate Waltz” (Undertow Music Collective) is a robust album full of booming songs — indeed, it’s probably Centro-matic’s most muscular album so far, and certainly its most hi-fi, thanks in part to production by Scott Solter (Spoon, St. Vincent, John Vanderslice).

Brawny combinations of bass and drums power opener “Against the Line,” the punchy “Iso-Residue” and, at a slower pace, “Shadow, Follow Me.” The band adds a gritty guitar riff to the mix on “All the Talkers,” and turns up even louder with alternating layers of crumbly and clanging guitar and double-tracked harmony vocals on “Only In My Double Mind,” a standout song on a standout album.

Even the piano on “Solid States” is plenty meaty, but there’s more to “Candidate Waltz” than power. Johnson’s knack for yearning melodies is fully intact and then some, and his tousled voice winds its way through the thickets of sound with a certain rustic grace. It’s the finishing touch, really, on the latest demonstration of depth from a band that keeps digging deeper.

Text by Eric R. Danton, photo by Matt Pence

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