Pure Indie Rock from Overseas

overseas-album-cover-500I know Ryan will agree with this, as Overseas are pretty much our favorite super group.  As Texas kids of the 90s, we grew into our own listening to the music of Centro-matic, Pedro the Lion and Bedhead, all who have components that are playing key roles here.  That’s right, you’ve got the Kadane’s, Will Johnson and Mr. Bazan.  I don’t think that anyone who was around that the very thought of that combination alone gets chills going.  I don’t need to say much, but I’ll share a few jams with you, just so you can revel in our joy. They’ll release their self-titled LP on June 11th.



Show Preview: Centro-Matic/ONUINU @ The Mohawk (2/1)

Date 2/1/13
Location The Mohawk
Doors 8pm
Tickets Mohawk @ Frontgate

Double bill of diversity.

First up, Will Johnson blows the dust off of Centro-Matic playing the outside stage. Hoping to get some new tracks out of this deal. Doors are 8pm, show at 9pm with Frank Smith and Moonlight Towers opening. I really enjoy Moonlight Towers for some just plain rock, got to hang with James at EAR studios during SxSW a few years back, super good people. Should be a lovely evening ($13 doors/$15 will call). A lil Centro-Matic action to put you in the mood.

[audio: https://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/05.-Only-In-My-Double-Mind.mp3]

Things double back and head indoors for ONUINU on the inside stage. Portland based Dorian Duvall brings his show to town so you can dance. Love Inks and Roger Sellers open up ($8 door/$10 will call). Here is some ONUINU to get you in the mood, or if you fill AV, go here to see and hear the latest..


Will Johnson – Scorpion

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Will Johnson is one of the most active musicians in the state of Texas, and, well, out of it too; he’s the main man for Centro-matic and he played drums on tour for Monsters of Folk.  But, I’ve always had an affinity for his solo work, ever since I first put on Vulture’s Await.  On Scorpion, his new solo record, we’re once again treated to an intimate affair, one that’s ultimately heartfelt and captivating.

If you’re not accustomed to Will Johnson‘s music, then you might be taken aback a bit at first when you press play to hear the first track, “You Will Be Here, Mine.”  True, it’s a pained rasp, but the more you listen, the more it becomes one of the most endearing voices you’ll hear.  This particular track has Will crooning as a very down-trodden percussive element backs his careful guitar picking.  You’re not going to feel uplifted here, but you’ll find personal solace in this tune.  Oh, and the semi-eruptive closing is quite beautiful. Similarly, “Bloodkin Push (Forget the Ones) takes a down turn in tempo, with Johnson’s voice clearly remaining the key instrument in the track; there’s also a faint backing vocal that truly helps deepen the mood.

I kept looking for a remake of “Vultures Await,” though admittedly that’s not fair to expect from an entirely different collection of songs, especially when the songwriter seems to put so much of his person in his songs.  There are a few tracks that near the perfection of the aforementioned number such as “Blackest Sparrow/Darkest Night” and “Truss of Ten.”  The former features a calm delivery, which reveals the faintest hint of Will’s natural vocal melody; this is the voice that has affected me for so long.  On the latter of the two tunes, there’s barely any instrumentation, aside from muted guitar strokes that eventually make way for some light picking.  However, this song is all about the vocal performance, with Will again joined by a counterpart with a softer side, contrasting his harder edge.

By and large, Scorpion is much quieter than the last full-length project.  Where the past efforts saw his voice attempting to soar, Will seems much more alone here.  You can’t help but be drawn in by a track “Scorpion,” even though there’s not much to the track itself.  A bit of far off tinkling piano, some backing vocals and gentle strummed guitar are all that exist to show us that Johnson’s not entirely alone out there.  This is about as personal an experience as a listener can get nowadays, as if he’s writing these tracks in the back of your house while you sit outside the door.

This listening experience is quite different than where I feel like I expected it to go after fawning over Will Johnson‘s previous works, both with band and without.  While I appreciate a more musical approach, I think Scorpion succeeds in being the exact opposite.  It’s a record you want with you while you’re alone, giving you the feeling like you have someone with whom you can share your solitude.  There’s no way you can listen through this whole record without having a huge emotional reaction, and I’m always thankful Will can provide us with that.


Download:Will Johnson – You Will Be Here, Mine [MP3]


Powerful Ballad From Will Johnson

A quick search for his name on this site and you’ll surely see that ATH has been a supporter of Will Johnson since we first began talking about music.  His music has always been underappreciated in my opinion, and he somehow always seems to be just on the cusp of blowing up, but then never does.  He’s one of the best kept secrets in the songwriting world.  This year, Will is planning to release another solo album entitled Scorpion which is due out September 11th.  To preview the album, Will has offered up this new track “You Will Be Here, Mine” as a free download to his fans.  The song features the typical beauty we’ve come to expect from Mr. Johnson with its subdued songwriting technique yet more powerful after ever listen.  Carry on sir.


Download: Will Johnson – You Will Be Here, Mine [MP3]

Top 15 Texas Albums of 2011

Oh man, is 2011 over already?  It is indeed, which means End of Year list time!  Of course, that means it’s time for you to tell us where we went wrong, but on this list, we’re thinking we got it pretty right on.  You’ll notice we expanded our list to a Top 15 of Texas Artists, as we thought our state did a great job, musically (not politically) speaking this year.  I’ll admit, it might be a little Austin-centric, but we’re based in the town, so get the Austin word a lot faster.  Apologies to Houston and San Antonio, as your scenes weren’t represented, but it’s nothing personal.  Feel free to leave us a comment to yell at us or tell us we were right on.  But, that being said, remember this is just the OPINION of a few dudes keeping it real in Austin.

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Centro-matic – Candidate Waltz

Rating: ★★★★☆

For close to two decades, Will Johnson has been all over the map, crafting songs under his own name, with various co-writers, and of course, with Centro-matic.  For the most part, his music has always had a sort of country-shade to it, and his voice has always made it heart-wrenching, no matter the lyrical content.  But, on Candidate Waltz, there’s more of an uplifting construction to the songs, giving you an album that could be considered his most widely accessible work to date.

You can easily discern that there’s going to be a sharper, polished sound on Candidate Waltz the minute “Against the Line” drops in with it’s sharp guitar chords.  Of course, the fragility in Johnson’s voice remains, creating an interesting juxtaposition that allows the song to be absorbed by your soul on multiple levels.  Jagged guitar lines cut through the following track, “All the Talkers,” with the group sounding a bit like a more rocking version of Lucero, but the interesting aspect of this song comes in near the final two minutes.  The track switches from a gritty rocker into this carefully crafted pop lullaby ending, created by the melodious backing vocals; this is perhaps one of the brightest moments on the record.

If you’re looking for that classic Centro-matic sound, with Johnson’s voice pulling at your gut strings, you’ll find that those songs, too, live within the confines of this latest effort.  “Estimate x 3” relies upon a time-keeping drum beat, quiet guitar lines, and Will.  The gruff quality of his voice always makes him seem so vulnerable, and that has consistently made his tracks seem tragic, yet towards the end of this number, as he repeats “give me what you want/don’t tell me” you can sense a softer side emerging in his work.

It’s going to be difficult to find something that allows you to disregard Candidate Waltz.  There’s sweeping melodies, great song arrangements, and really, there aren’t any misstep songs.  “Only in My Double Mind” has a banging piano and drum to start it off, while Johnson’s vocals do a great job carrying the melody throughout, giving you a short glimpse at just how powerful his voice can be, even when the music doesn’t appear to be the most innovative.  There’s a gentleness to the way he croons “ooh ooh,” providing those mono-syllabic moments with bits of depth you typically don’t see.  And the record finishes off with much the same fashion as it begins, bringing a warm rocker to your ears by the name of “If They Talk You Down.”  It shouldn’t cease to amaze you how emotionally charged Will’s vocals come across, even when he’s just using his voice as an instrument.  Personally, the gentle strings in the background make this track another standout.

There’s not a bad thing to say about Candidate Waltz, no matter how many times you listen to it, unless of course, you wanted more songs.  But, the brevity of the experience, combined with Will Johnson’s powerful voice provides listeners with more than enough to swoon over, just before Centro-matic wraps it all up.  The best thing is that as soon as it ends, you’ll want to start if all over again. And again.


Download: Centro-matic – Only In My Double Mind [MP3]

New Music From Centro-matic (Premiere!)

So right after we dropped a brand new song from Will Johnson a couple days ago, we receive this new track from Will’s veteran indie act Centro-matic.  This song “Only In My Double Mind” is the first single from the band’s upcoming new album Candidate Waltz due out June 21st.  While you’re at it, check out the accompanying video for the song featuring painter Will, some flying pizza, and chickens.  It’s really hard to believe that a band with talent such as this still manages to somehow fly under the radar in the music scene.  On that note, you can also stream a huge selection of Centro-matic’s music on their website if you’re new to the band.

*Update: For the time being, we can only offer you a stream of the song but can direct you to the Centro-matic website for a download.

[audio: https://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/05.-Only-In-My-Double-Mind.mp3]

Centro-matic @ The Parish (5/6)

Date Thursday, May 8th
Location Parish
Doors 800p
Tickets $12 from The Parish

Will Johnson is one of the great voices in Texas music right now, and he has been for several years. He comes through Austin quite a bit, and this time you can catch him with his band Centro-Matic this Thursday at the Parish.  You can rest assured that he’ll play some incredible tunes that will yank at your heart strings; you owe it to yourself to see him at least once in your lifetime.  Also on the bill is The Service Industry and Matthew and the Arrogant Sea.  Seems like a great way to fill your evening with good tunes if you ask me.


Download: Centro-Matic – Counting The Scars [MP3]

Will Johnson @ Mohawk (2/5)

willFamous Centro-matic front man Will Johnson is making another solo stop in Austin at the Mohawk on Thursday night.  Tickets for the show can be bought now for $8. Music is set to start around 10pm with a set by Cory Branan followed by The Monahans.  If you want to get an idea of what goes on in Will’s head, check out a recent interview we posted with him during Fun Fun Fun Fest.


Download: Centro-matic – Flashed and Cables [MP3]

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