Album Review: Jiggery Pokery by The Black Watch (2002) (Stonegarden Records)

Apparently it is illegal, in 64% of all states across the U.S, to start any article about Californian, 4-piece, The Black Watch, without including the words criminally under-rated or obscurity in at least one of the two opening paragraphs. Thankfully my love for the band since their 1999 King of Good Intentions album means I dodge that particular bullet with the guile of some sort of journalistic ninja.

Despite the brilliance of many of their albums, it is this early 2000’s release that predominantly encompasses the post 1990’s magnetism of the band. Initially the allure of the album is captured in tracks such as The Tennis Playing Roethke Said, Lovestruck (see below) and To William, My Father, Who Brought Home Books On India.

These tracks provide a frolicsome accompaniment to the remainder of the album as John Andrew Fredrick delivers late 80’s vocal twee-isms amid a sort of playful pastoral pop, that is made complete and more delicious by J’Anna Jacoby’s assortment of strings.

Such whimsy, whilst sporadically welcome, could not sustain an entire album and thankfully does not need to, with the most memorable parts of the album delivered via the deliberations of the more guitar galvanised tracks.

Bathyscope to Astronaut, Dear Abby (see above) and Come Tomorrow provide the listener with the sort of virtually/nearly fuzz-pop that allows for emphasis upon melody, whereas the superlative What is the Colour of Happiness (see below…featuring the vocals of Pat Fish from Jazz Butcher) and Here Today, are less intense guitar-pop classics that engender reference points to pre-90s Lloyd Cole.

The Black Watch are one of those bands that always give value for money when you just want that 45-60 minutes of entertainment. If you have not really given them too much attention, then start at this album and work backwards or forwards…you will never be disappointed with anything in their vast catalogue.

Artist Links:  Facebook  Bandcamp

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