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The Black Watch

Icing the Snow Queen

(The Eskimo; US: 10 Jun 2008; UK: Unavailable)

A critic’s delight but still under the radar, the Black Watch once again bring thoughtful, highbrow and intelligent chops to the nearly dozen songs here. But unlike 2003’s Very Mary Beth, the mellow quotient has unfortunately been upped. Opening with the title track, lead singer/guitarist John Andrew Fredrick and backing vocalist/guitarist Scott Taylor don’t push the envelope too much but set the record off on the right route. There seems to be a bit more urgency with “On Another Plane” though as Fredrick and crew drive down a solid indie rock/alt.rock highway. Yet by the third track, the Black Watch loses the plot momentarily with a rather insipid “Quartz Pink Cloud” which is summery California rock—a definite unwelcoming change of pace for the band and the record. Fortunately, the band finds its mojo again with a delicious “Apres Lisette” with its sweet harmonies and guitar accents as it glides along. The same can be said for the bubbly Beatles-ish “The Love of the Buzz”, the gentle but gorgeous “Peppermint” and the slightly edgier “Jenny Holly Wally Martin”.

Rating:

Originally from Cape Breton, MacNeil is currently writing for the Toronto Sun as well as other publications, including All Music Guide, Billboard.com, NME.com, Country Standard Time, Skope Magazine, Chart Magazine, Glide, Ft. Myers Magazine and Celtic Heritage. A graduate of the University of King's College, MacNeil currently resides in Toronto. He has interviewed hundreds of acts ranging from Metallica and AC/DC to Daniel Lanois and Smokey Robinson. MacNeil (modestly referred to as King J to friends), a diehard Philadelphia Flyers fan, has seen the Rolling Stones in a club setting, thereby knowing he will rest in peace at some point down the road. Oh, and he writes for PopMatters.com.


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