Video: The Black Watch, ‘Crying All the Time’

The Black Watch (Photo by Tony Pinto)

Despite the inference from the title of the the Black Watch’s 2019 album “Magic Johnson,” songwriter John Andrew Fredrick is known to favor the sport of tennis. Which is an apt metaphor for his music career. Fredrick has been volleying with his muses for more than three decades, and like a tiebreaker that drags on forever, there is no end in sight.

If you’re keeping score, and there is every reason to here, “Magic Johnson” was the Black Watch’s 17th album in 31 years. It came out this summer, at the same time as “31 Years of Obscurity: The Best of the Black Watch, 1988-2019,” which was the second career retrospective issued by an artist with, obviously, a lot to look back on.

The Black Watch’s literate indie-rock missives — alternately jangling and fuzzy, sweet and dissonant, buoyant and tart — are the gifts that keep on giving. So there was no surprise at all this week when Fredrick announced that TBW’s 18th album, “Brilliant Failures,” would be out Jan. 24 via A Turntable Friend Records.

The new single “Crying All the Time” arrives like a fractured fairy tale, wistfully narrated over a bristly bed of chords. Noted director Steve Hanft, who has helmed visuals for artists big and small, made the stylized video starring Katlyn Rodriguez.

Of the song, Fredrick says: “‘Crying All the Time’ is a bit ironic on account of I never cry. It was written about someone whom I used to love — about whom it was reported to me that ‘She’s wept so much she really lost her looks.’ Which made me very sad — if indeed it were true. I think I wrote the song, therefore, out of compassion for all the criers, as it were. And to use the word ‘perfidious’ for the first time, perhaps, in a pop song!”

For the new album, Fredrick worked with the lineup of Rob Campanella (The Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Quarter After), Andy Creighton (The World Record) and Scott Campbell. The process involved Fredrick giving acoustic versions of the songs to his collaborators and then encouraging them to flesh them out and put their own stamp on them.

“It was a really effective way to go,” Fredrick says. “Effortful on Scott’s and Rob’s and Andy’s parts, effortless on mine. The test of any artistic relationship, I think, is whether one would be keen to work with someone again. And I can safely say I would love to do another record this way.”

One can only smile at the list of artists to which the Black Watch has been (and could be) compared: The Beatles, the Cure, the Wedding Present, the Church, Echo and the Bunnymen, the Go-Betweens, the flagship bands on Flying Nun Records, Guided by Voices, the Chameleons, the Fall, Wire … even the beloved Kitchens of Distinction was mentioned recently.

Through their history of forehand smashes, keenly placed backhands, chop shots and a few unforced errors, it sure looks like the Black Watch is holding serve.

||| Watch: the video for “Crying All the Time”

||| Also: Stream the song here

||| Also: Stream “31 Years of Obscurity”

||| Previously: “Get Me Out of Echo Park,” “Julie,” “Georgette, Georgette,” “Way Strange World,” our 2015 interview.