Seattle and the state of Washington have produced some of the most cutting edge sounds in music in the last fifteen to twenty years. From grunge to synth pop, and everything in between, this Pacific Northwest area has been arguably the indie capital of the world for some time. Two names that you’re going to be hearing more and more are that of Reggie Watts and Maktub (pronounced mock-tube, meaning `it is written’ in Arabic). The band has already garnered thousands of local fans, beating out Pearl Jam in the Best Band category in Seattle Weekly.
After two moderately successful releases, Maktub is ready to release their best album yet. Say What You Mean is a mix of soul, funk and groove, the likes of which would make Sly Stone, Al Green and Prince all stand up and take notice, and not just at the size of Watts’ impressive afro. Because of said hair, Watts is one of the most recognizable people in Seattle. One can spot him at local shows, shops and clubs with relative ease. To me, the afro does two things, the first being to show that Watts has his own style, the second being that it diverts your attention just long enough to catch you off guard at how talented this man truly is. Not only does he sing beautifully and masterfully, but he is also extremely quick and witty as can be seen at the local improv showcase called “Spin the Bottle.” (One should see his origin of the phrase “Spin the Bottle,” it’s not what you’d expect, …`box purveyor’ indeed!)
“Promise Me,” the first track on Say What You Mean dumps you right in the middle of a funky drum track and Reggie’s lyrics. His “every now and then I fall down” refrain seems to be his own soul version of “every now and then I fall apart” from Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” albeit minus the cheese and the requisite Footloose recollections. The only tying parts are the lines and the fact that there is some connection to dancing. The title track is a Prince-like number that will make you want to sway with your honey on the dance floor and think about the return home. What I mean to say, pun intended, is that the song is Sex-ay! One of the more memorable things about a Prince concert I saw was the harmony between the people at the show, polite, loving and respectful of one another, all in the name of Prince. That’s the kind of vibe you get from Reggie Watts, that everything’s just gonna be cooool and laid-back.
“Daily Dosage” is one of the more aggressive and actually best songs on the album. His processed vocals, raplike and in cadence, are hypnotic, that is until the blow the doors off choruses. “Hunt You Down” again recalls some of Prince’s best throwback songs, as Watts channels Al Green for the higher notes. The entire album oozes cool. These guys just can’t seem to help it. What that means for the rest of the country is that they will most likely be hearing more of this local band soon, and that we’ll be able to remove that qualifier from their vocabulary. Reggie Watts is one talented man and is sure to be a star.
Prince- Sign O’ the Times
Van Hunt- Van Hunt
Reggie Watts- Simplified