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WATTS/FLASH! (Luminosity Music Group 10-987)

First and foremost, although they may infuse their songs with a punk spirit, Watts wants the world to know that they are in fact "a pop band from Boston." They cite the Beatles and the Kinks as their main influences and even lifted their name from the Kinksí song "David Watts." They also claim minor influences from the likes of Elvis Costello, The Clash, T-Rex, David Bowie, Kiss, The Pixies, and Sonic Youth.

The band is made up of Dan Kopko (vocals, guitar), John Blout (guitar, vocals), Ron Chane (bass, vocals), and Jon Rutkowski (drums). They came together, after unsuccessful stints in other bands, with no expectations or pressure. They simply wanted to enjoy themselves while "playing music in the fashion of our shared influences."

On "Flash!" the band is very obviously enjoying themselves. The disc has a rough sound to it and in fact creates the perfect atmosphere to present the type of rough, jagged pop that the band is trying for. The disc begins with the crunching guitar sounds of "Way Down", progresses through the heavily Kinks-influenced "Fine Young Man", and ends up with the rough pop sounds of "You Got Something." Along the way the disc is just full of rough harmonies and meandering guitars that weave in and out of each track. The band never falls into the trap of trying to simply imitate their influences but certainly does rock in the styles of those influences. My personal favorite here is a song called "Black & Blue" which is just a perfect example of raw power pop at itís finest.

Two of my favorite bands are The Smithereens and Social Distortion. Both of those bands would cite many of the same influences as Watts, so while they donít sound exactly the same, I think theyíre both fair comparisons to make.

"Flash!" is simply an excellent CD that deserves the attention of every rock, punk, and power pop music fan out there. Give these guys credit, Watts have succeeded in coming out of nowhere and putting together one of the best releases that Iíve heard in 1998. Listening to "Flash!", I can just imagine this band absolutely rockiní the crap out of a small Boston club on a hot Summer night.

Don Donofrio-1/99