City Paper is not for tourists
Mike Watt has never been one to play second fiddle just because he’s a bassist. With the Minutemen and, to a much lesser degree, firehose, Watt elevated his instrument to the level of its six-string cousins, often supplying songs with their central riff and introducing the more complicated rhythms of jazz and funk into insistently scrappy punk. But Watt’s no ball-hog. On Justamente Tres, the third release by Dos, a duo that Watt and former Black Flag bassist Kira have worked in sporadically for 10 years, Watt’s voice enters the mix only once, trading whispers with Kira on the beautiful, “Do You Want New Wave or Do You Want the Truth?”. Not that Watt’s presence isn’t felt; his blithe and tactful playing style is unmistakable, providing fat, call-and-response counterpoint to Kira’s lyric on the sassy opener, “Down in the Dumps,” and the chaotic melodies that allow the remakes from Watt’s solo album, Ball-hog or Tug-boat?, to survive as double-bass instrumentals. Kira never steps on Watt’s toes (unless that’s the point, of course), and her lonesome croon is surprisingly wrenching, in particular on the Ernest Tubb classic “Imagine That” and her own “Even the Pain Has Changed.” As on every record Watt’s ever recorded, some tracks on Justamente Tres are half-baked—“Number Five” and “Number Seven” are simply excuses for the two players to put their warmup exercises on tape. But Watt’s never been one to follow logic’s course: I’d guess that he considers it a triumph that his experiment in bass duets doesn’t contain any songs that are even remotely funky.