[sic] Magazine

The Black Watch – Icing The Snow Queen

With its digipak sleeve, Day-Glo painted Japanese lady and blurred guitarist photo this disc makes me think of Thurston Moore. The first (and title) track is rather bland but pleasant enough whimsy of the Kevin Ayres meets Post Rock variety. The second track is similar but the guitar is starting to wig out a bit. A possible pointer would be Andy Partridge’s more left field XTC pieces – this is especially evident by track 3 Quartz Pink Cloud. It features a rustic strum with a nagging electric guitar figure over the top and the sort of lazy Summer vocals to be found on XTC album Skylarking. This track has grabbed me at the artificial cut-off – (I reckon you should give an album 3 full tracks before you start skipping through – if you don’t like it (or at least become interested) by track 3… well life’s too short.)

As the album progresses I’m thinking “tasteful” which could be seen as an insult but isn’t meant that way. I’m looking out the window at fields and forest and this album would be best heard sitting in them sucking a leaf of grass in a heat haze. Sadly as I am listening in a town than reached minus 12 this week I’m less than likely to be frolicking there. By ‘The Love of the Buzz’ I’m pleasantly drifting with it, it’s hit a folky groove (XTC still very much an influence I reckon). Track 8, ‘The Jean Rhys Appreciation Society’, is so rustic it sounds like one of Anthony Phillips’ (original Genesis guitarist) mid 70s acoustic instrumentals and is the nadir of the folk element. Next track ‘Peppermint’ is a little more up beat, a pick me up after the sleepy tracks leading to it, but still hardly crystal meth. If the album is as rolling as the hills it could be said to be a valley in the middle, with the slightly harsher tracks either end.

We reach the last lap with track 10, ‘Oh Death Death Death’, a list of loss in the manner of Jim Carrol’s “People That Died” without any of the balls out rush of that song. However painful the facts behind it, it still approaches its subject with a certain gentility. But ‘Oh Death Death Death’ is not the end and the album’s coda is ‘Kindly Remind Me’, a graveside farewell. With a plaintive harmonica the album fades like a memory. Like all good albums this creates a mood that abides through its’ length, though nagging familiarity will hold them back from greatness.



For more from Indie Dad, please visit his website I blame the parents records