Dirty Water Records

Taking Music Backwards Into Tomorrow

dmme.net: The Chocolate Watchband "This Is My Voice"

Long-overdue return to form from original psych-punks who refuse to go out without a bang.

Veterans ensembles like this are in unenviable position having to live up to their meager legacy and mere legend attached to their name: the artists have to retain their classic identity yet come up with new tunes. And that’s exactly what TCW do here – having proved on 2015’s "I'm Not Like Everybody Else" they could play without external instrumentalists – by applying typical late-’60s elements to today’s landscape. There’s a freshly sharpened focus to some of the pieces on offer, thanks to the songs’ political relevance, so the group’s takes on Dylan’s “Desolation Row” or Zappa’s “Trouble Everyday” go beyond the obligatory foray into the Californians contemporaries’ catalogues.

In pure tribute terms, the American quintet pay homage to their fallen friends on the spicy covers of THE SEEDS’ “Can’t Seem To Make You Mine” – with Sky Saxon’s colleague Daryl Hooper chiming in on the ivories – and “Talk Talk” from THE MUSIC MACHINE’s lore, which also switches to the “can’t seem” sort of uncertainty, but it’s on singer David Aguilar’s numbers that the combo cut through the decades between then and now and roll out the title track’s fragile, if hypnotic, optimism alongside murkier themes. Once wild excitement has defined “Secret Rendezvous” – a booming rally for togetherness or an effervescent hippie conspiracy: the choice is all the listener’s – where another co-founder Gary Andrijasivich’s drums do the tribal dance, the blame-laying, ominous marriage of raga and blues for “Judgement Day” may feel artificial, while Tim Abbott’s guitar and sitar paint the vocal-less “Bombay Pipeline” in truly exotic colors.

Still the Diddley beat under “Take A Ride” – as well as catchy call-and-response – doesn’t fail to deliver romantic delight, and “Bed” is the best ballad in this band’s repertoire, the perfect link from the past to the present tense. To the very hope “Till The Daylight Comes” is spreading in jangly tones: this is the voice, the inner one each of us must heed for the future to factor in our plans. It’s unenviable, yet necessary position.

****1/4

Dirty Water Records London