the black watch | The PAPER BOATS EP | the eskimo record label | april 27th, 2018
“Every time that we breathe/ brings us nearer/ to when we’ll leave/ & when I’m good/ good and gone/ please remember/ this brief song,” sings John Andrew Fredrick on the closing track of the black watch’s new EP for 2018, “The Paper Boats”. With characteristic cheekiness, irony, and a serious penchant for ambiguity, Fredrick admits that these lines are as much about being gone from the record industry as they are about the theme of death.
The title track treats of two beautiful paper boats that sink in a backyard swimming pool, symbolizing the demise of a love relationship, something that won’t come again but for all that makes it “all the sweeter then.” The kookily-titled “Jingle-Jangle Loop De Loop” self-reflexively mentions “all the hours poured/ into a flask so flawed.” “Oh You Little Witch!” playfully kills off a former paramour with the tart phrase “now I never wonder what/ it’s like to be you.”
Having indeed lost his beloved father this year, Fredrick, the singer/songwriter of fifteen LPs (including 2017's well-received The Gospel According To John) and five EPs now (who has also published four novels and, last year, a book that analyzes the early films of Wes Anderson), mitigated a bit of the pain of his loss by churning out another dream-fuzz-jangle-pop collection of super catchy, literary guitar-heavy songs. Ones that doubtlessly reflect the expertise that comes from 30-some-odd years of putting out records.
The new EP was engineered by ace guitarist Andy Creighton (who fronts his own fine pop band, The World Record, and whose startling, angular leads were featured on last year’s the black watch LP.) The songs were done quickly at Creighton’s shed in the obscure El Sereno district of Los Angeles, then sent for mixing to Scott Campbell’s (Shelby Lynne, Stevie Nicks, Acetone) state-of-the-art studio in Woodland Hills. Campbell having produced and mixed at least half of the black watch’s records, what’s eventuated is a bit along the lines of “something old, something new.”
Fredrick reports: “Scott likes to be left alone while he works, while Andy I think relishes the feeling of discovery and close collaboration you get from making things up as we go along, the two of us together. He’s very methodical and exact if not exacting—and I’m very not! Andy can do almost anything with a musical instrument—and ironically that’s a sort of limitation, having all those complicating options. I can do very little, me—save play my usual rhythm guitar parts and very little bits and riffs on piano. And that’s sort of liberating, though obviously I’m being overly modest and in all actuality I’m a bit of a wizard with an acoustic or an Epiphone Casino. Hello, reps at Epiphone and the people who make those cool white pianos like the one John Lennon had for Imagine. Hello?”
“The Paper Boats” anticipates a much different-sounding LP that the black watch hopes to release later this year. “The EP is the last thing we’re doing on our own label, by God. We’ve been on different indies and on our own, back and forth, to and fro, for some time now. So there’s a small chance that it will be the great unreleased LP by the black watch. But of course,” Fredrick winks, “I hope that’s not going to be the case because the album is... well, you’ll see—maybe! God-willing.”
“The Paper Boats EP” by the black watch is set for release on the eskimo record label on April 27th, 2018.
10/25/2018: Tempe, AZ @ Yucca Tap Room
10/27/2018: Bizbee, AZ @ The Quarry
10/29/2018: Denver, CO @ Seventh Circle Music Collective
10/30/2018: Wichita, KS @ Kirby's
11/01/2018: Normal, IL @ Nightstop
11/03/2018: Minneapolis, MN @ Nomads
11/06/2018: Chicago, IL @ Elbo Room
11/09/2018: Dayton, OH @ South Park Tavern