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Amphetamines

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Album Review

With some friends helping along the way — notably Medicine/Electric Company guru Brad Laner on guitar for the rockin' "See You Around," a wonderful J'Anna Jacoby-sung tune that also features one of her best violin solos yet — Amphetamines ups the general noise factor just a touch, but it's enough to make this distinct from previous efforts. Stepping away from the clear lines of Flowering, the band adds more studio sound to the songs this time around, while still relying on the brisk, sprightly, but not twee power of their performances to carry the extra sonic decoration. Jacoby and John Andrew Fredrick harmonize wonderfully, as on the opening "Come Inside," the sweet jumper "Just Get Away," and the slow-to-faster "Tulip." Noticeably, Fredrick sounds less like Ian McCulloch than on previous efforts — the hints are still present in his voice, but whether it's the way he's singing or how he's produced, one doesn't immediately flash back to "The Cutter" or "A Promise" every time. The Black Watch still have plenty to say on the subject of romance gone wrong, and do so with an understated fire, as with the droney "The King of Good Intentions"; on other songs like "Letter," a slow chimer, general personal concerns get an airing without sounding too maudlin or self-pitying. Still pursuing their own muse despite the grunge/punk universe around them, the Black Watch always know how to touch the heart and mind just so.

Biography

Formed: 1987 in Santa Barbara, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The lone constant of California's long-running Black Watch is John Andrew Fredrick, an anglophile with a Ph.D. in English from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Since the late '80s, Fredrick has sporadically released well-regarded albums that have gained comparisons to the House of Love, the Go-Betweens, My Bloody Valentine, the Cure, American Music Club, Yo La Tengo, and late-'60s pop. Unable to secure a stable lineup since forming the group in 1987 (violinist/guitarist J'Anna Jacoby...
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Amphetamines, The Black Watch
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