Centro-Matic - Redo The Stacks (1995, Steve Records)
All-Time Album Series
To my mind, it is sad if anyone has that response.
This is my love letter to all the bands I have seen live in tiny clubs all over the country.
This is my love letter to Centro-Matic
Yes, I mostly write about alternative artists who have had a decent amount of commercial success.
But there are other stories, often even better stories.
Stories that come from going to shows and hearing the bands most people never hear of (but who are so good it is almost hard to explain - has anyone else ever seen Baboon live on a good night?).
Centro-Matic was a great American Band from Denton, Texas.
Members of Centro-Matic have made popular music with other bands and produced music for other more popular bands. But, to my mind, nothing they have done apart surpasses the consistently great music that they made together.
Centro-Matic have one of the best complete catalogs of music of any band that I know of.
Sounds like hyperbole, but I mean it 100%
Great records, great people, great live band, great band period.
The Importance of Scenes
I have had the privilege of living in the following college towns:
* Edmond, Oklahoma (Broncho - they claim Norman but I know the truth)
- And before I hear any noise, Iggy's actual Fun House was in Ann Arbor (not Detroit). I love Detroit, but come on -
There is something really different and special about encountering bands this way - Local, Loud, and Live.
Something about encountering them on your own and growing with them.
Something about watching them from their messy start/s all the way to them becoming the band that everyone else should get to see.
These local bands end up feeling like part of your own lived history - personal in a way that other music can never compete with.
You know things
You have seen things
You know who bands come from and what they are about.
I saw Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians when they were just one of several area bands doing the Dallas to Denton circuit.
You end up knowing insider things, like that Doug Hopkins wrote many of the Gin Blossom's hits before they had to kick him out over his addiction problems. You know, sadly, that they Gin Blossom's got famous after this happened.
And you have seen the greatness of bands like Centro-Matic up close, live, and personal.
I have been up next to the stage when before an encore it looked like someone had to hold Will Johnson up because he was so spent.
I have seen how amazing Matt Pence is live.
And I remember when this amazing album was released. I remember buying it at the record store that use to be right by the University bookstore in Denton.
Since then, I have listened to Redo The Stacks at least 1,000 times.
I realize that you may never be able to experience them in the way that I have - but you should still experience them.
Redo The Stacks
Please, and I mean "pretty please with sugar on top" give this album a try.
It is everything great about alternative music.
Strong point of view, totally original, doesn't sound like anyone else, no slick bullshit marketing, just honest interesting music from the heart.
Great songs like:
* Parade of Choosers, Terrified Anyway, Fidgeting Wildly (holy shit)
* Am I the Manager or Am I Not?
* Cannot Compete (heartbreaking)
* Rock and Roll Eyes
* Mandatory on the Attack
* Good As Gold
* And last but not least Starfighter #1479 (sublime statement of romantic geekdom at it's very best)
I am using this as the stand-in for the hundreds of amazing albums from every artist I listed above (and I own albums by all of them).
The scary thing, in many ways Centro-Matic got better after this album.
I will never understand how music popularity works. How did Dead Hot Workshop never make it our of Tempe (but The Refreshments Did)?
I remember sitting around at the bar talking about Noam Chomsky with Steve Larson and other odd subjects many times.
How did Tripping Daisy never really get the recognition they deserved (have you heard Jesus Hits Like An Atom Bomb?)
How did Ten Hands not make it out of Dallas when so many less musically talented bands did? Admittedly, this is dated and not the best clip (but it has been 30 years).
I know this is the story of every scene - at the heart of every scene are the bands that nobody outside of that scene ever heard but that everyone should have heard.
And Centro-Matic has done well.
Will has gone on to appear on Austin City Limits and Matt is a great producer.
But this is/was a great American Band.
Give them a try!
Last weeks All Time Album was Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are DEVO! by DEVO