Wednesday, November 20, 2019

the black watch, 31 Years of Obscurity: The Best of the black watch: 1988-2019 / Magic Johnson, 2019

Album Reviews

By Henry Lipput

I keep asking myself, "How did I miss this?" I was listening to indie music in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s and beyond and no one ever said to me, "You really need to check out the black watch" because, if they did, I certainly would have checked out the band and bought whatever I could find. Of course there were bands in the mid-1980s, like The Go-Betweens and The Smiths,  that I didn't start listening to until after they broke up and both of which may have influenced the black watch. But under the leadership of John Andrew Fredrick, the black watch didn't break up and they kept recording. So, again, why didn't I know about them?

The Los Angeles-based the black watch have released two new albums, a career-spanning compilation and a brand-new collection of songs. The title of the best-of, 31 Years of Obscurity: The Best of the black watch: 1988-2019, doesn't make me feel any better even though it shows that I'm not the only one who ignored the band. However, this outstanding anthology of tunes by the black watch will hopefully bring loads of new fans to the band.

31 Years of Obscurity contains twenty two first-rate tracks selected from the band's full-length CDs and LPs as well as EPs and singles. And because the songs on the album aren't in chronological order, you get the sense that the black watch have been consistently amazing throughout their career.

There's the jangle pop of 2018's "Georgette, Georgette," "Terrific" from 1991's Flowering is the Cure in a pop vein; and "Come Inside" (1994) and "I Don't Feel The Same" (2013) are straight-up rockers.

"Dear Anne" is from 2014's Sugarplum Fairy, Sugarplum Fairy album and not only recalls the finger-picking guitar work of Lennon and McCartney on The Beatles double album, but the title is a reference to the count-in that Lennon used on a song from another Beatles album. You might think of Lennon again when listening to "Not Forever Blue," also from the Flowering album. It's "I Am The Walrus" filtered through Robyn Hitchcock and produced by Nile Rodgers.

Things slow down on the lovely "Moonlight Thru Ivy" from The Innercity Garden EP of 2005 and the gorgeous, string-drenched "Christopher Smart (1722-1771)" from 2001 that could have fit very nicely on XTC's Nonsuch album.

Two of the songs on 31 Years, "Me & You & Me" and "Mad," do the neat trick of leading you right to the new black watch album. On Magic Johnson, John Andrew Fredrick, the black watch's songwriter, lead singer, and multi-instrumentalist, is joined by long-time band members Scott Campbell on keyboards and bass, Andy Creighton on guitars, bass, and drums, and Rob Campanella on piano. On the new album, the band also includes Andy Campanella on drums, Rodrigo Moreno on bass, and Andrew Lynch on trumpet.

"Get Me Out Of Echo Park" is a shoegazing delight, and "Me & You & Me" features a full-throated vocal from Fredrick and a lot of Rickenbacker in the mix. The moody "April Fools" is a highlight of the album. "Upsy-Daisy" finds the black watch in Syd Barrett territory, and the title song is the result of a chance meeting between the songwriter and one of his sports heroes in an LA restaurant.

The Magic Johnson album also includes the 2018 The Paper Boats EP and contains "Jingle-Jangle Loop De Loop," another jangle pop treasure from the black watch.

31 Years of Obscurity: The Best of the black watch: 1988-2019 and Magic Johnson are out now on ATOM Records.

No comments :

Post a Comment