Crying All The Time – the black watch (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

I will never get over the notion that despite all evidence pointing to the fact that the black watch are making music in the California sun and doing so right now chronologically speaking, they are not from another time and place. Why? Well, because they sound like a lost band from my formative days, one of  that post-punk swathe of bands who sallied forth from the UK’s north-west to assault the charts once the punks had had their day. I’m not saying Crying All The Time in any way plunders or plagiarises, more it, knowingly or otherwise, echoes with a sound that I held dear back in the day.

But that was then and this is now and I have probably mentioned all of this before but musical time machines are both rare and important. They are to me anyway. Crying All The Time is a song which chimes rather than chugs, shimmers with soaring sonics rather than fires off riff-a-rama salvos, it has an angular grace and is constructed from interlocking shards of guitar work and jagged musical textures.

The key to the song’s sound and indeed that of Brilliant Failures, the album to follow, is main man John Andrew Fredrick’s trust in the musicians he works with. Rather than turn up with a bag of finished songs ready for the band to learn,  he presented the songs in their basic, acoustic form and let Scott Campbell (Acetone, Carina Round, Stevie Nicks), Rob Campanella (The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Mystic Braves) and Andy Creighton (The World Record), hone them, adding to or strippings from as they saw fit.

And if this first release is anything to go by, it is an approach which works well for the band, the best of both having the focus and consistency of a central songwriter and the ability to not be overly precious about the song’s evolution. Considering that Brilliant Failures is album number 18, it does seem odd that the band are not talked about in the same way as the aforementioned Echo and The Bunnymen, The Wedding Present or perhaps even The Church. But then we all like a hidden gem don’t we?

 

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