Centro-Matic/South San Gabriel Dual Hawks

Centro-Matic/South San Gabriel Dual Hawks
How Misra will package two full-length albums as a split remains to be seen but for the two sides of songwriter Will Johnson’s coin, both win. Centro-Matic, the longer running of the two, seems superficially to be the blunter instrument. Slightly over-amplified guitar warmly coats the kind of tough guy/soft heart balladeer spirit than Ryan Adams manages on his best days. A little Paul Westerberg bleeds out on standout "Strychnine, Breathless Ways.” Fans of 2006’s Fort Recovery will not be disappointed. The true jewel is in SSG’s more delicate setting. They are essentially the same group super-sized into a larger ensemble, with a lighter arsenal of woodwinds, strings, pedal steel, etc. If Centro-Matic wear their heart on their sleeve, SSG’s is on their lapel, the brim of their hat, the dashboard of their truck. Johnson is given plenty of room to turn dusty poetry into something that sparkles in the moonlight. I hope that there’s a roadhouse in Texas where people will slow dance to "My Goodbyes.” However you split it, a double dose of Will Johnson is easy to swallow. (Misra)