Under The Radar: Dion Watts

As always when circling back to some old and obscure favorites, I find that I’ve missed some subsequent projects. Absolute Fiction, Carnival of Souls, The Scam…how did I miss three bands?

In a way, that’s good news for me – more to enjoy! In a way, bad news for you – the title I referred to below doesn’t even exist anymore. But several of the songs are available for free download at his site. I think if you enjoy artists like Semisonic (and solo efforts from Dan Wilson), The Zombies, John Wesley Harding, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Keane, or any of the more melodic pop artists, you’ll find something to like here. Many songs are very light and airy; some of the band material is a bit more uptempo.

You can read more about Dion Watts here and listen at the links at bottom, but it sounds like the very things that I was attracted to about his music remain intact. Here’s what I wrote a decade ago as part of my MP3 Files column for Cosmik Debris

Dion’s record is the first one I received that is printed on the MP3.COM “label”, the concept itself gets mixed reviews from me. The Digital Automatic Music (DAM) CDs are predominantly low-priced and contain two sets of tracks – one for your CD player and a set of digital files for your computer – along with artwork, video, lyrics and other goodies (the contents differs from artist to artist; this CD seems to only have a song list and a photo).

So you’re in good shape if you’re at the computer (unless you don’t have Winamp or some other program set as your default CD player, in which case your computer wrestles with itself for a while). The actual CD booklet, however, has a cover shot and very plain track listing on the back plate; everything else is generic information about MP3.com or a blank page. Bummer for those non-computer listens.

But what counts is inside, and Something Always Happens is loaded with great pop tunes. I first heard “I Wanna Be With You”, which is an irresistible sing-along pop track with jangly guitars and a great chorus. Watts’ vocal style is old school AM radio stuff, sometimes light and airy (“The Bluest Eyes”, a prom song if there ever was one), sometimes more pronounced like a John Wesley Harding on tracks like “God’s Cruel Joke On Me” (which almost sounds like a JWH title, doesn’t it?). “She Used To Love Me” is another solid hook backed by a great vocal, while the layered vocals on “Ashlee” and Overnight” are a nice touch. Watts plays and sings just about everything here, and pop fans should have a field day.

Dion Watts on MySpace

Listen and download tracks here.

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