There are two types of people in this world. Those who admit it is damn near impossible to “keep the finger on the pulse of ‘indie music’” these days and those who are liars. The overwhelming overuse of the term “indie” has taken what was once a genre for The Buzzcocks and Sonic Youth, (frankly because most couldn’t figure out what else to call it), filtered it through Dinosaur Jr., on through Radiohead, to whatever major labels want to slap a sticker on to sell you on the belief something is edgy and new.
Through the hazy misappropriation of a genre one thing remains steadfast, the truly indie rock sounds of The Black Watch do not waver.
The latest release from the California American Independent Rock sound, Future Strangers, follows up 2021’s Here & There and continues to build on the plethora LPS released since the formation in the late 1980s.
Developing on the namesake Future Strangers shifts the exploratory boundaries of The Black Watch as the album progresses, simultaneously satisfying expectations and demonstrating a sheer lack of complacency. Bending rock with pop, touches of shoegaze drifts, and pinches of punk, The Black Watch maintains their identity with masterful strokes. The first four tracks nod to the familiarity of their sound before shifting into distorted elements of fuzzed vibrancy, ultimately coming full circle, blending a dynamic approach to each track as the album progresses. Future Strangers is a blackhole of indie rock you’ll willingly surrender your ears to as you become lost in its waves. “We Know Nothing” harnesses an analog, vintage quality. “Off You Go Redux!” brings the wall of distorted pulse, shredding into much needed rock halfway through. “In My Head” soothes with harmonies and pulsating presence. It is, however, the explorations of sonic and worldly beats in “Wish I Had Something” and the distorted swells of the title-track, laid perfectly at the apex, in the middle of the record, that takes this record to a whole other level. The Black Watch, over the course of their latest eleven tracks demonstrates just why they are one of the best indie bands the world doesn’t know and that the future is uncertain, but they show no signs of slowing.
Future Strangers is The Black Watch, yet leans into possibilities leaving us at the outset wondering where they’ll go next. In a mixed up, muddled up mess that is blurring lines and definitions of genres, The Black Watch maintains what it means to be an indie rock band and does so in all the right ways.