February 02, 2004

Centro-matic "Flashes & Cables"

Centro-matic's Will Johnson is slowly garnering the respect and recognition he deserves. It's not for wont of releases on his part, because he's got a VERY big discography, and almost all of those records are excellent. He's also toured a helluva lot over the past few years and he's got a handful of side projects to boot. That it's taken him this long to get the credit he deserves is more indicitive of how slow America is to catch on--he's been highly regarded in Europe for several years now, as befits any good American artist these days.

The Flashes & Cables EP arrives hot on the heels of their most recent album, Love You Just The Same, and is a collection of songs recorded during the album sessions. For the most part, these songs continue along Centro-matic's longtime fuzzy, stoned-out indie rock path; though these songs are pretty good, they all just fare about the same. The title track is one of Johnson's better songs, and it's no surprise why he wanted to release it so soon. Surprisingly, the title track for their last album didn't make the final cut, and it closes out Flashes & Cables. It's a beautiful, haunting and unusually heartbreaking ballad, and is one of Johnson's best-ever songs.

The biggest stunner of Flashes & Cables, though, is the remixed version of the title track. Stripping away the hard-rock guitar, they opt for a weird electronica-based feedback to supply the melody. But wait, there's more! Throwing in a bit of piano, they make the song sadder, but when the orchestra comes in at the end, while Johnson quietly sings 'ba-ba-ba,' the song expands again, into something even more grand, causing an unexpected tug at the heart-strings. This song just moves you, and its really unlike anything you've heard before.

Once again, Will Johnson has proven that he's a creative force to be reckoned with. If you're looking to learn more about Centro-matic, then Flashes & Cables is an excellent start, and even if you're already convinced of his genius, then this record will add more proof to such claims. (Also included are four videos of current and older songs, making this little record a real bang-for-your-buck type of release.)

--Joseph Kyle

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