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The Hypnotizing Sea

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Album Review

John Andrew Fredrick's goal to pursue an elegant, post-punk-tinged vein of reflective pop/rock continues on The Hypnotizing Sea, one of the better titles of the Black Watch's now extensive discography. Certainly some of his influences are far from hidden: calling a song "Dylan Dylan Dylan" leaves little room for doubt, as does calling another "The Shakespeare Song." But in both cases the intent is not to claim a mantle but to cleverly acknowledge inspiration, the former's harmonica-tinged arrangement a gentle homage (killer line, meanwhile — "Dylan, well he ain't my saviour/That is Jesus' job..."). Everything cracks fiercely to life from the start, with "Innercity Garden" beginning with a huge, blistering riff that lives in the red by default, while Fredrick delivers the vocals in his usual clear, rich style as he rides a gentle glam-descended verse structure to the full. Nothing is quite so loud sounding on the rest of the album, but it's a great call to arms for an enjoyable effort. What's perhaps most remarkable in listening to The Hypnotizing Sea is realizing how readily Fredrick has shown how he can create enough twists and turns on his well-established sound to still intrigue a listener, much like, say, groups such as the Church or, until their untimely end, the Go-Betweens. Both have their clear influence on Fredrick's work as well, but he has established his own individual place, audible on the reflective acoustic/electric "The Teacup Song" and the exuberant, shoegaze-tinged, full rush of the instrumental "Room 407." The best line of the whole album is on the wonderful title track: "You see it's not that easy to hang with freakazoids/On account of most of them are fully unemployed."

Customer Reviews

The Hypnotizing Sea

Another stellar record from these dreamy pop stars that never were.. if you like MBV, Robin Hitchcock, XTC, The should like these guys!


Hypnotizing is right. I love this band. I feel I found the music I've been searching for.


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...
Full Bio

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