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CD Reviews:  Swag: Catch-All

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Pop quiz: What's the scariest word in rock and roll? Supergroup, and rightly so. For the few that work (Electronic, and I confess a love for the first Power Station album), there are scores who fail miserably (three letters: GTR). But Swag, comprised of members of Cheap Trick, Wilco, Sixpence None The Richer and the Mavericks, is that rare beast, a genre-hopping hit machine with amazing chemistry and tunes to spare. In fact, Swag's full-length debut, Catch-All, is easily better than the last few Cheap Trick records. Jeff Tweedy better watch his back. 

The purpose of the band was a power pop outlet for mavericks Robert Reynolds and Jerry Dale McFadden. Before long, former Wilco drummer Ken Coomer, Not Lame Records artist Doug Powell and Cheap Trick's Tom Petersson joined the fold, and things started cooking. The album is mostly an ode to 1960s bands like the Kinks ("Please Don't Tell"), Beatles ("Different Girl," a song that rivals Paul McCartney's best ballads) and Byrds ("Louise," which also has a hint of the Wonder Stuff), but by no means are they trapped there. "Ride" sounds like an unholy alliance between Cheap Trick and Kiss (Cheap Trick's even name-checked in the lyrics), and "Eight" is the best song Elvis Costello never wrote, an imaginary B-side to "Oliver's Army."

All of the members of Swag -- save perhaps Powell -- have better paying day jobs, which puts the odds of a follow-up album somewhere between "when our schedules clear up" and "yeah, right." What a pity. Catch-All is better than a good chunk of the work their day jobs have produced. At last, a supergroup that is just that, a super group, and much more than the sum of its parts. 

~David Medsker : Feedback - Link to Us  - About B-E - FAQ - Advertise with Us

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