If you thought a band couldn’t surprise you after 18 LPs, I think the Black Watch are out to prove folks wrong. The entirety of Fromthing Somethat gives you a variety of sounds and styles, while still being tethered to the songwriting of leader John Fredrick. I actually like the almost sedate nature of this number, mostly working over a heavy strum. It matches the darkened nature of the video, with clusters of color drifting in to form images upon a black background. Fredrick has a slight rise in certain moments in the song that almost lean towards Bob Pollard similarities…but perhaps I’m stretching too far with my pigeonholing! Alas, its just another great track from a band that never ceases to impress me. Fromthing Somethat is out now via Atom Records.
As an avid fan of the Black Watch, I think the forthcoming record has the possibility to be one of their strongest to date. You can hear John Andrew Fredrick really pushing himself sonically, especially when you take into account the earlier single from the new album, “The Nothing That Is,” offering us a slightly playful disco sound. Here on the new single, the band swirl the guitars around your ears, almost in a disorienting fashion. The rhythm section pounds away, steadying things, matched by the solemn delivery of Fredrick; I love how there’s a great vocal foil too, bringing in a touch more melody to the heavier tones John offers. Is it possible that after all the albums and all the years that the Black Watch are just now hitting their stride? We’re definitely in for a ride when Fromthing Somethat drops on October 23rd via Atom Records. (Photo by Brendan Holmes)
I’m an avowed fan of the Black Watch, and I reckoned this whole quarantine would be more than ample time to get John Andrew Fredrick enough time to muster up a new record…and sure enough, here we are with Fromthing Somethat. Unlike the previous 19 LPs, John brought these songs almost fully formed to the band, used one or two run-throughs, then had them recorded. There’s an innate spirit to a band finding its feet beneath a song, and you can grasp that here on this first single. It’s a sinister disco vibe, club-happy and purely pop oriented; I found it surprising on first listen…and that’s always refreshing when you’re about 19 albums into a career. ATOM Records release the new LP on October 23rd.
When you talk about prolific indie rock vets, you usually hear Guided by Voices, but around these parts, you always hear me talk about the Black Watch. The band consistently push out great content, forever sounding like themselves, and yet never sounding like they’re treading the proverbial water. On the band’s new single, the track seems almost like a meditation; the lyrics are delivered almost like a mantra, you can tell the care in the way Fredrick puts emphasis on every last syllable, all the way to the chorus line of ‘crying all the time.” Never boring, and never sounding like their finished, the Black Watch will return in January with Brilliant Failures via A Turntable Friend Records.
One thing you can be assured of in life is that we’re never too far away from a release from the Black Watch; they never seem to lose steam behind the songwriting of John Andrew Fredrick, and we’re all better for it. They’ve just announced a new 7″ with a fresh B-Side that I wanted to share with you, as its filled with these perfect little pop moments you won’t wanna miss out on. In the first minute, you get an introduction to the band, of sorts; John’s voice hangs heavy and deep, working behind a driving rhythm section that’s pushing the track forward…but a good ear will hear the tonal switch right at 1:08, giving rise to the band’s pop sensibility. Down the road, there’s this heavy jam of sorts, bringing in some psychedelia albeit briefly. Then at 2:06 the vocal delivery seems almost hurried, more urgent…right before dropping into that nice pop turn we alluded to earlier. Find me a better tune, I dare ya! You can order the 7″ now from Hypnotic Bridge!
If ever there was a band I wish more people cared about, it would be the work of The Black Watch. The group, helmed by JA Fredrick has been consistently prolific and consistently changing. Here on their latest single, familiar sounds abound, but Fredrick feels steadier than before, somehow; it’s as if he’s achieved self-awareness, and yet continues to push himself (and the band) forward. However you want to look at it, listening back through the years and playing this track over and over, you just get the feeling that it’s all clicked, it’s all reached this pinnacle moment in the band’s discography. I can’t wait to add Magic Johnson to the collection when it drops in August.
Of course, The Black Watch never hold back from writing material; for fans, they’re almost always on your mind, like the fuzzier pop version of Guided by Voices. Today they announced a bunch of cool things, like a new LP featuring the great tune below, but they also seem to have put together a couple of fun compilations, you know, for the collectors out there trying to polish off their collection (one even has the band’s entire catalog on a USB). The guitar sound here is phenomenal, giving plenty of space for Fredrick to cast his hallowed croon while the rhythm section works beneath it all. This song appears on Magic Johnson, which will be released June 21st via Atom Records.
Long have I loved the Black Watch, and this year, they venture towards our neck of the woods to perform during SXSW, so I reached out to John to see if he could spare a minute to answer our questions…and, lukcily, he obliged. Below you’ll find his responses and a the latest single! Read more
A few months after the release of Witches!, John Andrew Fredrick and the Black Watch return, ready to make you swoon in an entirely different fashion. Up until now, 16 albums have been filled with Fredrick’s voice, but he’s released control, instead offering the opportunity for Julie Schulte to make her musical debut. While it’s the slightest change, it completely transforms things, moving the group into the realms of wondrous chamber pop; there’s this undeniable charm that will sway any listener. Not sure what it means for the next album from the group, which I’m hoping is just around the corner, but I don’t think anyone can turn away from this stunner. The band will also be attending this year’s SXSW festival!
- Having spent a great deal of my time over the last fifteen LPs of the Black Watch, the thing that still strikes me is how willing John is to continuously attempt new things. He’s claimed that the entirety of Witches was conceived as a dance album…yet songs like the track below might lead you astray. In this number, he seems isolated, standing alone at the front of the mix while everything goes on behind him; you’ll hear the strum of acoustic guitars, matched by cascading lines, there’s faint hints of tambourines in the far off, bass just barely bubbles up from below. Then there’s John, bare before you with his poetry and voice. Witches drops on July 25th via Atom Records.