Centro-Matic/South San Gabriel
Former Mott the Hoople singer/songwriter Ian Hunter once released an album called You’re Never Alone with a Schizophrenic. It’s an aphorism that Will Johnson has taken to heart. Johnson is the leader of two bands,
Confused? Let Misra Records help you sort it out. On June 3rd Misra will drop Dual Hawks, a double CD featuring 11 songs from
Johnson is, to put it mildly, a solipsistic songwriter, lost in his own mystical lyrical connections, so don’t come looking for straightforward narratives:
Strangled by the cellophane in the story of her life
She got theirs and they got mine
Eighteen tubes of butane running corporation fairs
It’s discount-like and out of time
That’s the way opening Centro-Matric track “Rat Patrols and DJs” starts out. Sure thing, dude. Number nine, number nine. But the obfuscation is presented in such a hook-filled, power-chord-buttressed way that it sounds just fine. He could be singing random words (and there is some evidence that he might be) and it would still sound great. On the other side of the schizophrenic schism, South San Gabriel opener “Emma Jane” is both much more lyrically focused and more musically sprawling; an impressionistic wash of acoustic guitar and cello that is simply begging for a hook.
It’s an impressive if frustrating approach, one that constantly highlights Johnson’s failures as well as his obvious gifts. His music deserves a wider audience, and this magnum opus just might be the logical place to start. But remember Shuffle Mode. It will help.