Mike Watt Hyphenated-Man

Mike Watt

I thought I had suspended my eMusic account indefinitely, but I guess not. This morning I rolled over and checked my phone to see what time it is. I have one of those hipster, asshole, first world mini-computer iPhones so I also checked my email and the device informed me that my PayPal account had been charged for my eMusic account. I was not in the mood to deal with eMusic this morning, but I also know if I didn’t download some shit I was going to forget about it. And since they are all anal about not letting balances run over (I am loosing $1.40 in credits this month because I just can’t be bothered) and they have switched up their pricing schematic, I knew this was gonna be a bad morning. That was until I saw Mike Watt had a new album.

I love Mike Watt. I mean, I don’t know the man personally, but I love him. From all I can tell, he is the kindest, gentlest, most emotionally aware person on the planet. He also played for The Minutemen who are the greatest American Punk Band and generally is thought to be the best bass player in the entire world. I worship at his bass playing alter and all that he teaches about the bottom sounds.

Having said this, his post-Minutemen work, which really is the majority of his musical career is not the easiest to listen to. First of all he’s really prolific with a lot of different Jam bands. Some I have heard, some I haven’t as there are too many of them. As for his solo albums, they are affairs that I don’t think the average listener can really enjoy. You sorta have to know and love Watt to get into those epic masterpieces. They are very Mellvillian in there grandeur and thickness. Sometimes they can be a tough listen. But as I reviewed the track list for Hyphenated-Man I saw that the 30 track album was full of songs all under 2 minutes, a form of song writing that Watt has not employed since even before the Minutemen met their untimely and tragic demise. I was curious. I started to listen, I was BLOWN AWAY.

Hyphenated Man is of course not the Minutemen. First, obviously, is because D. Boon is no longer on this world (in my version of heaven, which is imaginary, he and Joe Strummer are in a band together and it sounds amazing). Second, while the drums are pretty solid, it’s not George Hurley and I really, really, really want it to be George Hurley. One because he’s amazing and so oft over looked in the Minutemen history, and second, it would just make me feel better about the universe. But, having said this, Hyphenated Man is as close to The Minutemen as Watt has ever gotten since, and it’s very refreshing. There is a lot of energy, pounding, hollerin’ and just really great playing. Some of it’s an expanded sound that Watt has been working in, but tightened up and kept purposely contained. Other times it feels and sounds so familiar that I want to cry. This could be due to the fact that Watt himself wrote all the guitar parts on an old Telecaster of Boons. He never has let go of his spiritual and musical brother and for all the tributes he’s ever done for Boon, this one rings highest of all.

As for the lyrical content, Watt looked to the art work of Heironymus Bosch, which delights me even more. One of these days I will make it to Bruges to check out his work in person. He’s always been a favorite of mine, so the combination of Watt spiel about Bosch’s surrealistic, fucked up head space paintings is totally awesome. Every song is named after one of the broken, half, pieced together or just bizarre creatures that can be found throughout Bosch’s greatest work. Watt always likes the concept records, but to date, this is his most successful both musically and thematically.

It’s fantastic to have Mike Watt in the world. So many of punk rock’s heros have grown up, grown old or dropped out of punk rock. Some of them are now long away from this mortal world of ours. Mike Watt is like the ultimate rock, the foundation for everything that punk has been, is and will be. He glides effortless through the rock and roll landscape, untouched and seemingly unconcerned about what the masses, media whores and cool kids are doing. Watt does what Watt wants to do, searching in musical and artistic ideas that are unable to be duplicated by lesser men. The giant of a man has been making music nearly as long as I have been alive, and he gets bigger and greater and more God like with each year.  Long live Mike Watt. I mean it, we need you.


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