Watts recorded his first album at the age of fifteen, moved from Montana (US) to Antwerp (BE) four years later, got into contact with the Belgian alternative scene and became a member of several rock, noise and punk bands. 'Queens' is produced by Stef Kamil Carlens and Nicolas Rombouts and features (former) members of acclaimed Belgian bands such as Moondog Jr, Zita Swoon, Eriksson Delcroix, Dez Mona, Guido Belcanto, and King Dick. And yes, all of that is audible on this album.
From the first notes of 'Sha La La Jim' you'll realize that you're dealing with a talented singer-songwriter, backed by a group of professional buddies. Americana, rock & roll, country and folk are being mixed into outstanding songs, often emotional, sometimes gritty and dark. A whole bunch of names comes to mind, including South San Gabriel, Morphine, Ween, dEUS and, in 'Smoke All Around My Brain', even Elvis, embodied by the 'Suspicious Minds' like guitar licks.
The most gutsy tune on this album is the cover of Michael Jackson's 'Billy Jean'. Slow, almost eerie, almost suited to appear in a David Lynch movie. Yet, my personal favorite is 'Lay Your Ears', where the entire band manages to bring out the best in themselves, resulting in a immersive piece of alternative americana rock. Or how about the uplifting country tune 'There I Have Come For You'. Odd but excellent, like most of this album.
But apparently there is also some place for electronics. 'Penniless Carpenters' comes up with rhythmic sequencers guiding a mid-tempo country rock song. For a number of reasons this is one my favorites here. Coming to think of it, pretty much nothing on this album is what you'd call "my kind of music" but I truly enjoy most of it. I expect some of these tunes to pop-up in StuBru's 'De Afrekening' (if that still exists). Check it out. This is pretty darn cool.