Stuff I Listen to on the Subway: Doug Ratner & The Watchmen
Doug Ratner & The Watchmen – Eye to Eye
Who Are They: Four-piece rock n’ roll band from Springfield, Mass.
Doug Ratner- guitar and vocals
Mark Adamski- guitar
Austin Seabury- Bass and vocals
Mike Lamagna- Drums
Sound like: If John Mayer and Henry Rollins had a lovechild.
Top tracks: I Still Fall (track 1), Ahead Along (track 4), Bottle Me Up (track 9)
To provide some context, I gave this CD a listen on my way back from Washington Heights to the Upper East Side after crashing at a friend’s house after a Phish show / staying up until 4:30 a.m. It’s about an hour and a half subway ride with two transfers, and I was extremely tired and looking pretty haggard from the previous night’s debauchery. I needed some music with a little punch.
Fortunately, the heavy rift and barking vocals of album opener, “I Still Fall,” provided the perfect kick in the head to keep me awake on the A train, and the next two tracks, “Red Head” and “As Good as it Seems,” followed suit.
On the fourth track, “Ahead Along,” the tone of the album changes from driving guitar riffs and powerful chanting vocals to a slower and more rhythmic sound, and instrumental track “Dust Part 2” was perfect background music as I walked from 8th Ave. to Park Ave. to catch the 4/5 train while pretending I was in a music video. Wait, am I the only one who does that?
The rest of the album follows the same formula of heavy rock n’ roll mixed with slower, more soothing songs, and the music is hella catchy. Not to mention that these guys can friggin’ shred. On “Bottle Me Up,” Ratner’s vocals sound like that of a man who’s angrily ripping shots at a local dive, but after listening to “Alone Again” you realize that it’s probably just because he’s sad about a girl.
Eye to Eye is polished enough to be a mainstream success, but also pissed off enough that I can listen to it while pounding through the mass of people in the Union Square subway station the morning after a long night of partying. And while I appreciate anything that can distract me from the thousands of bodies I encounter during these daily commutes, I think this album is probably best enjoyed live with a slight buzz on, and a raucous- but not too raucous- attitude.