Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Black Watch - Led Zeppelin Five (2011) - A brief overview

I really don't know what my excuse was for not paying attention to The Black Watch any earlier than two years ago.  Sure, they already had a plethora of releases under their belt by the time they got around to tracking their 1994 album, Amphetamines for the relatively well distributed Zero Hour Records, but even in '94 (not to mention that entire decade) they failed to make it onto my radar.  Somehow I was a little too distracted with Seattle, shoegazer, Britpop, pop-punk, etc to take note of an entirely competent and substantive indie guitar band from Los Angeles that I should been appreciating for at least the last decade and a half.    Enter the fall of 2009.  It was then that I finally made my acquaintance with BW, in New York City during the week of CMJ to be exact, when they were playing a small showcase.  Though I have yet to plunder the bulk of their back catalog (which is actually more sizeable than you might think) I've done some catching up over the last couple years with both the Amphetamines LP, and their 1999 release for Not Lame, The King of Good Intentions.  Long on the heels of those album come's Led Zepelin Five (in reference to the ripe-for-mocking title, shouldn't this disk have been dubbed Houses of the Holy...oh, wait that one's been spoken for).

The Black Watch's epicenter is singer/songwriter John Andrew Fredrick, who's an Anglophile audiophile if there ever was one, and like any aficionado of modern pop from the other side of the pond, he has a keen awareness of not overdoing it with either ballads or more strenuous rockers.  LZF cuts both ways (and a little in between) with plenty of class, not to mention smooth song sequencing.  Fredrick's timbre often recalls Don McGlashan of the Mutton Birds, but his band's overall sonic aptitude, ablaze with crackling six-string melees, would blend in just fine with Catherine Wheel or late '90s Swervedriver, particularly on this album's more robust entries, "Emily, Are You Sleeping?" and "The Maid's Been Round."  The sublime, pure pop splendour of "The Stars in the Sky," and tender sentiments comprising "How Much About Love" and "Kinda Sorta" showcase Fredrick's deftly honed acumen, one that's been in the making for well over two decades.  You can get Led Zeppelin Five from all the usual MP3 outlets, including Bandcamp, and physical copies are available through Amazon and CD Baby.

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