Mike Watt just released the third album in the "punk opera" series he began with 1997's Contemplating the Engine Room. This year's Hyphenated-Man follows 2004's The Secondman's Middle Stand, turning the run into a trilogy now until Watt makes another album. Today Watt is something of a punk-rock treasure — and still a vital one at that — continually turning in entertaining, challenging albums (solo and otherwise) since the Minutemen ended in the tragic van accident that killed lead singer D. Boon in late 1985. Watt's albums aren't that far off from what the Minutemen would probably be doing at this point: Jam-heavy and bassy, with soulful vocals. For fans of punk and indie-rock, the sight of Watt clutching a bass guitar and plucking away is tantamount to watching Albert Pujols smash a grand slam, unless you are an Astros fan. When Watt isn't touring "econo" in his own custom van, he sits in with the Stooges, both live and on record. He played on their first album after a three-decade break, 2007's The Weirdness, and continues to be part of the influential Detroit crew as needed.
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