Like a 10 p.m. buzz deteriorating into a 2 a.m. depression, Centro-Matic's raucous, feedback-drenched hootenannies career headlong into perfectly twangy, tear-in-your-Lone Star balladry. Exhausted coal miners drink somber toasts to fallen friends while nostalgic grandmothers teach their grandchildren the two-step. When Will Johnson and Centro-Matic take the stage -- be it in Las Cruces or Los Angeles -- they quickly transform a hipster-laden club into a dusty, one-beer-on-tap bar in Denton, Texas, where, starting over a decade ago, the quartet honed the sophisticated blend of lo-fi, fuzzed-out power pop and bare-bones country that has earned it glowing and well-deserved comparisons to Neil Young and Wilco. More than just followers, however, the men of Centro-Matic approach their art with the intensity and commitment of mad, trucker-hat-wearing, canned-beer-swilling monks. The abbot is Will Johnson, the band's reedy-voiced, staggeringly prolific frontman, whose deeply personal songwriting turns Centro-Matic's bar rock into an undeniably affecting and irrepressibly human affair.


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