Centro-matic finds an honest America, Ladyhawk abides harsh morning realities, Donovan Frankenreiter defines summer, and Kaada invites you to find your own truth
Music for Moviebikers (Ipecac)
Motivated by creative and functional drumming, the songs are fueled by crunching guitars and capped off by Will Johnson’s smoky, emotive vocals. Their culmination is a gritty and honest musical expression, difficult to pin down as being bright or dark. While sadness underscores the tone, Centro-matic picks its punches for raucous spurts and exalting swells comfortably foreshadowed and executed.
Reaping the benefits of a 10-year relationship, Centro-matic’s arrangements are tightly packed with smooth transitions, delightful countermelodies, and precisely interlocked rhythms. The sounds are thick, creating a fullness laced with meticulously controlled feedback and subtly sustained synth tracks. Warmth emits from Fort Recovery , making it an easy record to enjoy backed by a well of musical depth.
Calling a record distinctly American is a benign statement, and yet it comes naturally to the lips with Fort Recovery . Perhaps an earnest, hardworking band has finally come to reflect the landscape of the country it has traveled and experienced for so long. Without restriction to a regional genre, Centro-matic has cultivated an ecumenical style for anyone who enjoys well-crafted rock.
One highlight is the slow-burning “Long Til,” which, despite a dragging intro, is endowed with a hollow, elegiac ending that’s effortlessly heartbreaking. It says “don’t go” in the dim yellow fog of morning, its softness drawing the shades and hitting on a hopeless intimacy.
On the sparsely accompanied “Advice,” singer Duffy Driedeger admonishes listeners in a dry tone, “Your good looks are fading/so fuck who you will,” among other tidbits of depressed logic.
Then, it must be afternoon, ’cause Ladyhawk steps up the rock with “Came in Brave,” whose guitars ring out with an angriness that can only attempt to overcompensate for its regret. Likewise, “Sad Eyes/Blue Eyes” stays with the mournful swagger, this time with searing notes stretching over twangy plucks, providing an alt-country tinge.
Yeah, it sticks to one general theme, but Ladyhawk is pretty dead-on with its moping, so it doesn’t get too old. It will be appropriate, indeed, when the band embarks on tour with the achingly sad-eyed Jason Molina and his Magnolia Electric Co. this summer. Buy ’em a shot of Jamison—misery loves company.
Surfer-turned-musician Donavan Frankenreiter’s newest, Move By Yourself , is summer’s voice incarnate. At times, it embodies a casual nostalgia of which Jack Johnson, who happens to be Frankenreiter’s childhood friend, would approve; at others, its soul boils up from the depths of funk-soaked jazz. Frankenreiter’s voice is a shade tree, the cool, whispery centerpiece of compositions more prone to exploration than standing in one place. G. Love (of G. Love and Special Sauce) chips in with his harmonica on “Girl Like You,” a bluesy castaway that’d make a fine soundtrack for any beachside tequila bar, and the title-track brushes off the pain of a cheatin’ woman as though it was sand on Frankenreiter’s shoulders. Must be nice.
Is Frankenreiter’s seasonal music dipping its toes into uncharted waters? No. But when your backyard barbecue rotation of Jack Johnson/Jimmy Buffet starts getting old, keep a copy of Move By Yourself handy to stick in CD changer No. 3.
It doesn’t matter what genre Kaada thinks it’s supposed to be. He doesn’t want it explained, so that his trippy, meditative arrangements can affect us, slowly, as the tracks seamlessly flow from the totally far out to the intentionally underwhelming. We are our own moviebikers after all.