The Black Watch ‘The Gospel According to John’ Review: one of alt-rocks best kept musical secrets is back, and its time to pay attention.
As a music obsessive of the Gen-X persuasion, I pride myself on an extensive knowledge of amazing, under-the-radar alternative and indie bands from my youth. I tend to favor the underrated underdog. But alas, I’m only human, and there’s always another treasure to be unearthed.
Such is the case with The Black Watch, a veteran post-punk act that you would swear were British, but actually hail from sunny Santa Barbara, California. The group (founded by frontman John Andrew Fredrick in the late 80’s) are one of the best kept secrets in college rock (back when it was called that. I miss those days) or in the words of USA Today: They should’ve become a household name a long time ago”
So the band’s latest album, The Gospel According To John is as good a jumping on point as any, an engaging 8 song affair that kicks off with the wistful Whence, a dream-pop concoction punctuated by Frederick’s baritone croon.
Way Strange World’s upbeat guitar work is juxtaposed against Frederick’s uncertain lyrics: everything will work out fine in the end, or perhaps it never will, it depends. His lyrics are a highlight throughout, fitting given his career as professor of English literature, with a lovelorn, poetic quality that perfectly fits each song.
The All-right Side of Just Ok has an Interpol’ish flair, but with more wizened experience naturally, and the album is peppered with numbers like A Story and Oscillating Redux featuring lovely echoey guitar lines that should entice fans of The Cure, Echo and the Bunnymen and The Church.
The album ends on Satellite, the most propulsive track, ending in an appropriately stratospheric, soaring finale.
The Gospel According to John should hopefully gain The Black Watch a wider following–consider me one such example of the happily recently initiated. Top-notch stuff.
Buy The Black Watch’s The Gospel According to John on Amazon: