CD: Tom McWatters’ “A Beast Among the Civilized”
(The Rev Records, 2010):
Known for his cuttingly ribald lyrics and his no-holds-barred take on rock and roll, Tom McWatters has upped the ante with a stunning collection of exceedingly well-written rockers, ballads and classic pop tunes on “A Beast Among the Civilized”, his second release as a solo artist.
Backed by some of the very best local musicians going – Bob Buckley of the Kamikaze Hearts on bass and piano; Charmboy’s Eric Halder on lead guitar; and man about town Steve Candlen on the Bonham-esque backbeats – McWatters has never sounded better as a vocalist, the Seger/Springsteen bellow of his Sense Offender days maturing into a more versatile and expressive instrument that sees him as possibly the area’s reigning king of blue-eyed soul, now that Sean Rowe has signed to Anti-.
“Built on the Backs of Slaves” and “Ultimate Fruit” are the hard rock showstoppers here, but we also get the ingenious classic pop moves of “For Whom Anabelle Tolls,” while “Who Could Put a Pricetag on a Dream?” could be a lost Randy Newman gem. Kudos to the production of Frank Moscowitz for deftly capturing the varied spirit of McWatters’ songs.
What makes it all uniquely Tom McWatters is the wonderfully askew outlook, where the sci-fi rumination of “Martian Sunset” (sample lyric: “Across the Milky Way, / my thumb in the air, / A Martian Sunset is a lonely affair”) gives way to the lascivious imaginings of “Ultimate Fruit” (“’Cause I am the god of thunder,/ and you are heaven’s creation”). It’s all more fun than a rolling barrel of drunken monkeys, and very highly recommended.
You can download the album for 8 bucks from Tom’s bandcamp site – trust me, you won’t regret it.
Review by Mike Hotter
Tom McWatters will be the feature performer at the Best Damn Open Mic Night Ever at McGeary’s in Albany on Wednesday evening. The evening kicks off at 6pm with co-hosts MotherJudge and Albie, followed by McWatters at 6:30pm. Open Mic portion of the night begins at 7pm.