Although Missouri native Will Johnson splits his time among Undertow Orchestra, South San Gabriel, and solo projects, he's best known as the leader of Denton, Texas' Centro-Matic, a band that wraps Johnson's sometimes fragile (and sometimes raucous) songs in a gauze of country feedback and big-sky rock 'n' roll. For much of its existence, the band has labored in relative obscurity, dutifully releasing an album every few years and bringing a full-out live show to any club that will have it. But Centro-Matic made a jump to the mid-level independent label Misra for 2003's excellent Love You Just the Same, and with this year's Fort Recovery, the band may raise its profile a bit. While it's less of a heartbreak record than Centro-Matic's last, echoes of loss and resilience pop up throughout Recovery. The album contains songs such as "In Such Crooked Times" that float like a reverie until the weight of goodbye grounds the emotion. "Patience for the Ride," one of the disc's most immediately endearing songs, tells that "the damage was with us from the start/But you can't touch the forces of our hurricane hearts."
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