Hailing from Springfield, Massachusetts, Doug Ratner & the Watchmen's main claim to fame is getting banned from a popular TV show, Mass Appeal, in their hometown, for their song Bomb in the Backseat. It appears the show neither listened to the song nor understood it's meaning. They only heard the references to bombs and explosions. O well.
Ratner and company play a blend of classic guitar rock with some modern alt references. Here's the skinny on their debut EP Lessons Well Learned. First, if you give it more than a few spins, it will grow on you. But the significant songs are three.
The centerpiece is obviously Bomb in the Backseat, a rather rowdy number that reminds of a cross between The Kinks and Elvis Costello, just faster. Much the same could be said for the second interesting song, Ratner's interpretation of Pink Floyd's Money. It's more up tempo, and so somehow lacks the resolve and impact of the original. It probably sounds better live. Finally, the last song, Take Me Home, is squarely a guitar driven rocker with lots of energy.
As for the acoustic ballad Ghost in the Mirror, dull, and Do You Remember?, it's a country-type thang, pass. The clear strengths throughout Lessons Well Learned are Ratner's strong rock vocal style and his lively guitar licks. The conclusion borders on ambivalence, yet with the expectation we'll hear even more and greater things from these talented musicians in the future.
Doug Ratner & the Watchmen's Lessons Well Learned promises much indie melodic rock at the start, yet only leaves you wishing for more and greater things in the future from the band.