Even if his name isn’t instantly familiar to you, Will Johnson has probably been a part of at least one musical project you’re a fan of. After moving to Denton, Texas, in the early ’90s for college, Johnson formed Centro-matic, which has released numerous records since 1996. In 2002, Johnson, his Centro-matic bandmates and guest musicians started issuing more introspective records under the South San Gabriel moniker; the same year, Johnson released his first solo LP. Since, Johnson has played drums with Monsters Of Folk, toured with the Undertow Orchestra (featuring David Bazan, Mark Eitzel and Vic Chesnutt) and started work on a Woody Guthrie project (with Jay Farrar, Jim James and Anders Parker) in the vein of the Wilco/Billy Bragg Mermaid Avenue albums. Johnson’s latest release is the self-titled debut by Molina And Johnson (on Secretly Canadian), his duo with Jason Molina (Songs: Ohia, Magnolia Electric Co.). As if he wasn’t busy enough already, the Austin-based Johnson will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our Q&A with him.
Johnson: AA Bondy‘s When The Devil’s Loose: I spent a lot of time with these songs in recent days. This record is wholly victorious in a graceful way. Songwriting-as-main-course records can succeed in the same way that great travel writing can. Some of the sonic terrain may have been walked before, but the time-tested payoff is how the messengers see and transmit their own story. Bondy’s delivery is collected, classy, never overreaching. Subtly rolling onward with a soft voice instead of ever having to scream or belt. There’s an understated energy all the while in this sublime, dreamy trek.
“I Can See The Pines Are Dancing” (download):