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Rhythm & Views

The Black Watch

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A "tatterdemalion" is someone who is tattered or worn down, which seems like an odd title for a record by a band like The Black Watch, who refuse to be broken down.

Tatterdemalion is The Black Watch's 10th album, and they're one of those good bands that, for whatever reason, haven't ever had a moment in the metaphorical sun. But that doesn't stop them from putting out consistently thoughtful albums. The ever-expanding wave of hip music trends doesn't seem to influence singer/songwriter John Andrew Fredrick. Listening to The Black Watch is like being transported back to that bedroom whose floor you were lying on the first time you heard XTC or that corner you used to curl up in while listening to the Cure. It may be nostalgic, but it's also somehow still fresh.

Tatterdemalion is reportedly Fredrick's favorite Black Watch record thus far, and it's easy to see why; the sincerity of "Where There Were Orange Trees" ("I noticed I was bleeding, it's the downside of this high") and the bass line on "Never Know" warm up the record, and it moves from quiet stretches ("Covers the Bummers") to running at full speed ("The Lost Colony of Roanoke") with barely an ankle crack. Within all of the sustained guitar chords is an acceptance of the very situation The Black Watch is in as a band: "So very many things aren't up to you, and work out different from how you want them to," sings Fredrick on "Covers the Bummers."

The Black Watch may not be the next band on the cover of Magnet, but you wouldn't want them to be, anyway.

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