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Contemplating the Engine Room
Mike Watt
Contemplating the Engine Room
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
  •  Track Listings (15) - Disc #1

On former Minutemen and Firehose bassist Mike Watt's second "solo" outing (he's joined by guitarist Nil Cline and drummer Stephen Hedges), the idea of a punk-rock opera (his words) or concept album (critic's term) doesn't ...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Mike Watt
Title: Contemplating the Engine Room
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: Sony
Original Release Date: 10/7/1997
Release Date: 10/7/1997
Album Type: Enhanced
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
Styles: Indie & Lo-Fi, American Alternative
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 074646816127, 074646816141

On former Minutemen and Firehose bassist Mike Watt's second "solo" outing (he's joined by guitarist Nil Cline and drummer Stephen Hedges), the idea of a punk-rock opera (his words) or concept album (critic's term) doesn't seem so outrageous. Paying homage to his dad's life on the San Pedro, California, waterfront and to the late D. Boon, the now quasi-mythic Minutemen singer-guitarist, Watt covers as much musical ground as he does personal history. Solid tracks such as "Black Gang Coffee" and "The Blue Jackets Manual" are fine nods to the playful punk punch of the Minutemen, and chiming guitars with a sea-shanty feel permeate "In the Engine Room." A churning psychedelic energy drives "Liberty Calls," while "Breaking the Choke Hold" serves as a contemplative and sad farewell. A pleasant, intimate listening experience, all told. --Lorry Fleming

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CD Reviews

Get Yer Fix
J. Lieberman | Los Angeles, CA United States | 04/10/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"As a Minutemen/fIREHOSE/Mike Watt junky, this review is probably long over due. I really want to give it 4 1/2 stars, but more on that in a second.So, what is this album? A tribute to certain influences that have made a great muscians life. Namely, his father, D. Boon and the weird little hamlet of San Pedro, California. With a much belated nod to the great George Hurely. It is also a punk-rock opera with Nels and Steve Hodges providing very inspired music to Watt's bi-polar bass lines. Musicly, it covers a large spectrum. The Blue Jackets Manual is a powerful ode to his father's days in the Navy. Crazy thumping bass that sometimes chirps as well as beautiful guitar work by the abovementioned Nels Cline. Then you get something like No One Says Old Man (To The Old Man) which is as mellow as anything and seems to hint a little bit at Watt's Masonic connections (I don't know either, but it comes up from time to time in his songs. See Mr. Machinery Operator). My favorite has to be Liberty Calls! which is just as manic and brilliant as anything Watt has done. Fireman Hurely is a cool tune, too. Especially if you are a fan of Georgies. This is a great album to put on at a reasonable volume and enjoy with a good red wine and a pack of cigarettes. Surprising, yet familiar all at once. Is it as flat out rock as Ball Hog or Tugboat? No, And cleary, I don't think Watt wanted it that way. Do some of the tunes go a little spacey and sound very Dos inflected? Yes, but, this is an album which is meant to be taken in its entirerty, not a song at a time. Enjoy!"
Three different journeys at once
B. C. Harper | 11/03/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is an album worth getting to know. Pieces will stick in your head after a few listens. This trio playing on the album really make interesting use of space and texture while backing up Mike Watt's surreal, yet heartfelt story-telling. Nels Cline's guitar-playing adds a fervor to the rhythm skeletons who sway and dance from song to song. The percussion is full of dramatic nuances and emulations of ship sounds and other bells and whistles. Very solid. This all adds up to a theme, and a very interesting one indeed. Listen for the subtle musical references from old Minutemen (Watt's initial band) songs and riffs. Characters from that era are referenced from that era, as well: particularly the great D. Boon. Give this one a chance and enjoy!"
Set the space for an explorative course
tomcheese | Sydney, Nova Scotia Canada | 02/14/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)

"An album of shifting depths, not unlike the waters of this nautical-themed offering from Mike Watt--Contemplating the Engine Room. given as I've had more time than usual to whirl this disk, I've been given the allowance to hear its musical definition. Along with Watt's gruff yet emotive delivery there are personal (That's Watt's father on the cover) and instructive naval motifs. Songs like The Boiler Man, In The engine Room, Black Gang Coffee, No One Says Old Man (To the Old Man), Red Bluff, and Pedro Bound particularly set the space for an explorative course.
Watt handles thump staff and spiel as well, Nels Cline is on guitars and Stephen Hodges plays drums. They create a roving, discursive sound that achieves a definitive atmosphere. Like waves, their sound washes around you in different ways each time. A stellar album."