Steadiness has long been a key ingredient for Will Johnson, but 2014 was a shaky year for the Austinite: he lost his mother and his longtime band Centro-Matic. His new solo venture, Swan City Vampires (out September 25), reflects these twin emotional shakeups. It’s a messy record, careening between noisy roots-rock squalls, synthesized textures, and elegiac acoustic odes to both his mother and all he’s built across a two decade career.
Johnson’s recordings have often been intimate, but Swan City Vampires positions you even closer inside his headspace. Amps buzz, fingers move across frets, and Johnson doesn’t disguise his sighs. This record breathes. Repetition is its own salve on “Call, Call, Call.” With its booming drums and cascading piano, the song moves but Johnson stays in place, distressed but unbowed. Download the song below, and catch his free Waterloo Records in-store performance on September 25 at 5 p.m.