Silent Radar

The Watchmen

Capitol Records, 1998

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


When you thnk of Canada, chances are you think of hockey and beer. If you are hip, you might even think of "SCTV," their answer to "Saturday Night Live". But do you think of Canada as the home of pop/rock groups waiting to make a name for themselves?

The more I do this job, the more it surprises me that there are so many groups just to our north who never get a fair shot in the States. One of those groups, The Watchmen, are finally being given a chance to succeed within our borders, as their American debut (and fourth album overall) Silent Radar is released.

The band - vocalist Daniel Greaves, guitarist Joey Serlin, bassist Ken Tizzard and drummer Sammy Kohn - remind me more than a little of Live, only The Watchmen's music isn't as dark and brooding as Live's can get. Musically, they're a cohesive outfit who know how to turn on the charm in their songs. However, the one drawback to my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Silent Radar is that it's not the easiest album to get comfortable with, and the challenges the band issues to the listener might be too much for one to overcome. You certainly won't do it with one compulsory listen.

The album opens strongly enough with "Stereo," a track that builds from its gentle introduction to a guitar powerhouse very quickly. This track alone could help the band establish themselves on American radio; it's catchy enough to make you want to hear it again and again, yet fresh enough where you'll hear something new with each listen.

For a good portion of Silent Radar, The Watchmen prove to be a very impressive band who create music that excites. Tracks like "I'm Waiting," "Do It," "Come Around" and the title track all stand out, and make the listener wonder why no one in America was willing to take a chance on these guys before.

However, there are some moments on Silent Radar that prove to be hard to plow through. Tracks like "Rooster" do eventually show their power to the listener, but they're not the most accessible songs. I found that when I lost my focus during these tracks, it was nearly impossible for me to listen to the remainder of the album with the same intensity that I had been. Before I'd realize it, three tracks would pass, and I had no knowledge of what I'd just heard.

While Silent Radar has the potential to be the true breakthrough for The Watchmen, they do need to try and break out of the melancholia that has been the trademark of other bands. When the album slows down, like on "Any Day Now," it plods at times, and it takes a lot more effort to bring things up to speed. I'm not saying the band should drop the slow-tempo numbers, but they should try to find the spark that will keep people listening intensely.

Silent Radar is an album that should produce more than a "blip" on the screens of American audiences. And while they still need one more coat of paint before they're ready for superstardom, this is still a solid first effort in the States. Chances are if this one succeeds, we'll be seeing their other albums down here in due time.

Rating: B-

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© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Capitol Records, and is used for informational purposes only.