Posted on June 16th, 2014 (12:00 pm) by Michael Mangarella

When a band is referenced as having a “consistent sound,” a quick listen between the lines inevitably reveals a tired formula that comes off as drab as a gray suit on a sunny day. Just take a slide down a radio dial and if the paint-by-number drivel passing for rap or R&B doesn’t have you steering the car, with the radio lined up directly into the path of a tree, the classic rock will certainly put you through the windshield. Then there are those few that take the familiarity of their sound and weave it into varying tapestries of lived through emotion, that never seems to lose its edge.

Centro-Matic, that noisy little band from Denton, Texas has weathered through eighteen years, eleven albums, incarnations as South San Gabriel as well as Will Johnson’s solo efforts and Matt Pence’s forays into engineering and producing to create a level of consistency unmatched by few (if any) bands over the same period. Supplemented by the talents of Scott Danbom and Mark Hedman, their distinctive (not to mention extensive) catalog, coupled by an incendiary live show, has made them one of the few quality acts in the business. On, Take Pride In Your Long Odds, the boys from Denton shake off the rust of a three year break and the pop notions of Candidate Waltz and lay down a burn-down-the-house set of unrepentant rock and roll.

An anthem tenor spreads across a psychedelic landscape on the opening and title track, a fuzz laden, instrumental buzz saw that sends chips of feedback in every direction. ”Every Mission” starts off as a trickle of rustic guitar picking and muscles its way into a rocked-up ballad featuring (as always) great percussion work by Pence. ”Salty Disciple” is a rhythm heavy workout featuring lo-fi electro notes acting as the magneto, with Johnson’s distant vocals giving the darkness of the song depth in character. The buoyant rocker “Cross Path,” like many songs on the album, will make longtime fans think back to earlier albums. Here, at least for this listener, Love You Just The Same, pokes it head through the curtain and looks good doing it. “Anything Torn Out” is very reminiscent of the whisper-to-a-scream work they applied on Navigational. On the ruefully too short rock-out, “Academy Of Clunkers,” feedback and grind as raw as asphalt rash give it a genuine all or nothing feel throughout. On the beautiful “Calling You Glad,” a paisley groove permeates giving it a sentimental feel. “Hey There Straps” could easily be a South San Gabriel tearjerker. “Relative, Unto The Aces,” takes off on a garage pop angle, then streamlines into a brilliant rock piece that straddles the line between exhilaration and despair. “On The Ride Back,” sounds fresh off their seventh album, the understated, Fort Recovery, then goes totally Crazy Horse to great effect. This rock em’, sock em’, return-to-form closes with the melancholy beauty of “Through The Fog, Then Down,” taking on a gospel/blues hue and riding it like a cloud.

It’s rare when a band can gather the particles of their past sprinkle them on their present and not come away sounding tired or disjointed. Take Pride In Your Long Odds, has taken the honesty of their, “square peg in a round hole,” sound and rocked it up with emotional amperage without losing that live in the studio feel. The band sounds rejuvenated and the exuberance is evident throughout, on this gloriously battle scarred album, quite possibly the best of their career.

Track List:

  1. Take Pride In Your Long Odds
  2. Every Mission
  3. Salty Disciple
  4. Cross Path
  5. Anything Torn Out
  6. Academy Of Lunkers
  7. Calling You Glad
  8. Cynthia Glass
  9. Hey There, Straps
  10. Relative, Unto The Aces
  11. On The Ride Back
  12. Through The Fog, Then Down
Centro-Matic, Take Pride In Your Long Odds, Will Johnson, Denton Texas
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

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