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The Black Watch - The King of Good Intentions - 1999

The Black Watch - The King of Good Intentions - 1999

Pop New Wave Dance
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It hasn't been easy for the Black Watch. This makes five records on five different labels. But like wandering the desert in an endless search of bountiful waterholes instead of mere drops of cactus juice, such wayward struggles have just made this fledgling band more determined. Each album, three years apart, has been better than the last, and if the quantum-leap The King of Good Intentions finds a spot in the stereos of discerning pop fans, the Black Watch will have found their oasis at last. For this release, they've pared down to the two essentials: singer/songwriter/guitarist John Andrew Frederick and multi-instrumentalist J'Anna Jacoby. They're aided by a phalanx of L.A. underground musicians playing the other parts, and together the assemblage has made a minor masterpiece. Enjoying by far the best production of his career, Frederick seems to have a Go-Betweens jones on such beguiling, handsome, fertile pop as "The Wrong People," "Hey Hey Hey," and the more organic, skipping "Obligatory Blues." Jacoby's exceptional violin used to save the group's weaker work; now it adds translucent sparkle to a freshly painted canvas. And the multiple times a piano drops in for coffee in the background, it's the sort of ageless pop moment you spend hours in CD stores looking for. As a result, the poet Frederick finally has a backdrop to match his abilities. Always a cutting wordsmith, he's full of acerbic disregard for those whose lives have crossed his. "I suppose she'll go upstairs with anyone that mumbles that he cares" he gibes at one point, typical of the austere subject matter. Nothing happening in pop? No talent, no craft, nothing to say in pop today? Buy this, then. -AMG

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The album code is : ODI192420

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