Whenever I start to lament the demise of modern music, a band like this will show up and kick my ass. Watts somehow wedge their tough rock 'n' roll in the same space between punk and power pop that once made the Replacements seem so necessary. Each song on On The Dial comes armed with at least a couple barbed hooks, and the band backs them up with the cool swagger of a 50s street gang. Singer Dan Kopko's rasp holds a similarity to Social Distortion's Mike Ness (but with a more advanced sense of both melody and humor), while guitarist John Blout's muscular, dramatic leads are concise and tuneful, and underneath it all the rhythm section of Craig Lapointe and John Lynch pushes every bar forward with a lurching, inevitable momentum. The band may be named after Rolling Stones drummer Charlie, but I'm going out on a limb and claiming they're paying similar homage to Mott the Hoople bassist Overend, because as much as these songs chug along with the Chuck Berryisms of a punked-up Stones they also revel in the hard-bitten romantic fatalism of the best moments of Mott (and now that I think of it, I may have to start a campaign to get these guys to cover either "Jerkin' Crocus" or "One of the Boys" - it might be a perfect fit). Smart enough to title a song "Sweetheart of the Radio", cool enough to cover Angel City (aka the Angels), and, godbless'em, brave enough to even try at all - Watts is a band after my own heart.
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