El Cento

Don Cento could easily be described as the thinking man's musician. Throughout the years, he's been involved with some of the smartest pop acts in town: He provided keys for the highly regarded alt-pop outfit Chomsky; he played guitar in the instrumental surf rock-inspired Shibboleth. He's also produced records for the likes of Trey Johnson—on both of his most recent solo efforts, in fact. And he's received his fair share of nominations for Best Instrumentalist in the Dallas Observer Music Awards, too.

Now comes something somewhat different: El Cento, the band Cento formed in 2009 to showcase his own songwriting skills. With vocals drenched in the slightest bit of echo, the tracks on this Stuart Sikes-produced disc are reminiscent of The Cars and even the Talking Heads in some instances. Add to that the ever-present synthesizer and Cento's quirky lyrics, and it becomes clear: If you mixed Chomsky and Shibboleth with Ric Ocasek, this is what you'd get. With some added quirks, of course: Lead track "Citizen" boasts lyrics like, "I will be your citizen/Your Thomas and your Edison/Your fever and your medicine." Another highlight, "I Am the Stereo," relies on personification to describe a relationship: "You are the signal/I am the stereo/Don't turn me down."

El Cento proves that Don Cento is not only a talented instrumentalist, but that he also has a knack for writing quirky, smart, guitar-pop jams.

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