New Yorker-turned-Angeleno Andrew Watt, guitarist for now defunct California Breed, released his debut EP through John Varvatos Records last year, titled Ghost in My Head. Andrew – who will be hitting up Monster Energy Carolina Rebellion on Day Two – has a lot going for him: youth, musical chops, and help from some established musicians (Red Hot Chili Peppers’s Chad Smith and Danzig’s Joey Castillo). And he’s only warming up.
In “High,” Andrew hooks the listener with his guitar and pulls them into another world. One of sunny sidewalks, indoor arguments, and altitude-induced euphoria. Vocals are spot on, with unapologetically soulful personality bolstered by a gamboling guitar. The title track has such a classic flavor, it would not surprise me if Andrew were cooking with some of Bon Jovi’s recipes. This is a polished first album by a child of the 90s; that is as certain as JNCO jeans and Beanie Babies (as regrettable as either of those might seem now). In “Ghost in My Head,” Andrew sings of the unknown identity occupying his mind. It wasn’t necessarily invited, but we might as well make the most of it, right? Andrew plays guitar like an old soul. I can only imagine what he’ll be doing with the instrument in a few years’ time.
Andrew Watt – Ghost in My Head on YouTube
“Seeing Red” features drums that could fell trees and vocals funkier than that smell in the fish section of Overseas Market. An expertly-composed song, the lyrics tell of his side – the receiving side – of a breakup, which is nothing short of difficult. As negative memories of the relationship fade from Andrew’s mind “like an old tattoo,” he finds his newfound freedom confusing. If he isn’t good enough for his ex, who is (“what kind of man can fit into your master plan”)? Andrew seems perturbed that he put time and effort into being in a relationship with someone who was not as open with him as he would have liked, and disconcerted that even though he may be single again, thoughts of his ex are squatting in his head like a PTSD-affected veteran at an abandoned gas station. And there’s nothing he can do about it. If any ‘woe is me’ thoughts remain in your head, the first clean beats of “Runaway” quickly take their place, followed by the carefree lyrics and a guitar so hot it could melt dark chocolate. This four-song EP runs through the gamut of emotions as experienced by a young man muddling his way through life, just trying to get through experiences he does not fully understand, but embraces nonetheless.
Andrew Watt doesn’t play around. He delivers glimpses into his reality, as variegated as the cover of a Jimi Hendrix album and as mundane or sordid as reality allows (i.e., infinitely). You can enter his world, ears first, at Carolina Rebellion on May 7.