Centro-matic/ South San Gabriel
Will Johnson is the singer and songwriter for both of these bands - Centro-matic, a Crazy Horse-The Band style rock 4-piece and South San Gabriel, a quieter, mellower, folkier outfit. This is the first time the bands have mixed on one album, with one disc of each. Dual Hawks should ensure the bands are given the kind of accolades usually reserved for (friends) My Morning Jacket or Drive-By Truckers - their last, Fort Recovery, was 2006's Album of the Year. It is hard to overestimate the impact of Will Johnson's voice and ability to write a song - at his best, he reaches directly into your soul. That ability is absolutely to the fore on the SSG disc - which recalls their remarkable Welcome, Convalescence in its elegiac, spare melodies and aching building dynamics.
The arid Texas air is like another instrument as the songs play out on pedal steel, brushed drums and strummed guitar - My Goodbyes alone will make you want a quiet room, a great hi fi and a few hours alone. The tempo is way higher on the Centro-matic disc, with several recalling the band's earlier, more headlong rock and 7" singles. Like power pop with a buzzsaw edge, the songs deliver a massive hit with some genuinely great writing. Dual Hawks matches Fort Recovery for quality and doubles the quantity, for the same money - how can this not be 2008's best album?