CD Review – The Black Watch “Very Mary Beth”

The Black Watch
Very Mary Beth
Stonegarden Records

In a society where 20 different types of toothpaste flavors are offered, it is comforting for music lovers to know that they don’t have to waste their time checking out The Black Watch’s Very Mary Beth.

The band’s latest release comes after some critical appraisal of its previous album, Jiggery-Pokery, touted as the band’s best work in 15 years. If Very Mary Beth is yet another step forward, perhaps that’s why nobody has ever heard of them. Although the group seems to know what they’re doing, this album just doesn’t click.

On Very Mary Beth, the drums, bass and acoustic guitar are coherent, but the group just doesn’t rock. The experimental stabs taken on electric guitar lead the listener nowhere.

Not to be outdone by the tame music, singer Andrew Frederick yawns through the CD with fractional variation. The first song, “All These Shivers,” sounds like an average nobody singing karaoke to a Neil Young song — talk about bland. The rest of his singing sounds like a passionless version of Mark Lanegan, formerly of The Screaming Trees.

In a tidbit worthy of outrage, this band likes to fish for comparisons from bands as dissimilar as The Beatles, The Cure, and even My Bloody Valentine. To say The Black Watch has even a foggy resemblance to My Bloody Valentine, a shoe-gaze band that pioneered the genre and is still cutting edge (though they’ve long since disbanded) is like saying eggs are still edible 10 years after their expiration date. It’s worse, because eggs actually have a chance to be good, and The Black Watch, since the ’80s, never had that chance.

Any warranted influences that could possibly merit this band are few if at all, unless the group bastardized the influences beyond recognition. The lyrics are particularly trite: “I need you like a famine needs disease/ Needs disease/ Disease.” Like the rest of us need another sagging indie band.

From lame cover-art to generic music, The Black Watch seems to want to be younger than they are. This is concisely tragic because their stale earnestness compounds the fact that they’re simply older and boring, perhaps a suitable opening band for a Goo-Goo Dolls tour.