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Swag
Alternative Folk


The notion that a whole can be more than the sum of its parts certainly holds true for Swag -- an all-star combo comprised of pretty doggone impressive parts, including members of the Mavericks, Cheap Trick, and Wilco. Thus, Swag manages to channel both the spirit and sound of the swinging '60s without falling into revival-band status. Catchall is largely devoted to proving that you can present a fully formed power-pop short story in just two minutes -- a trick the band pulls off beautifully on the melancholy, 12-string-laden "Lone" and the moodily crunching "Please Don't Tell" (an organ-swathed, big-beat tune redolent of early Kinks). The latter tune, like many of Catchall's best tracks, makes the most of the harmonies of Robert Reynolds and Jerry Dale McFadden, who honed their partnership through many years on the road with the Mavericks. Every member of the combo, however, gets a chance to shine. Doug Powell fires his best shot on the shimmering "When She Awoke," a gossamer melody that could pass for a 1967 Bee Gees outtake, while McFadden's "Louise" splits the difference between garage-band angst and the high-lonesome feel of classic Bakersfield country. You can probably spot a dozen more references -- from the Hollies to Elvis Costello -- over the course of the disc's 35 minutes, but this is no sonic "Where's Waldo": It's as vivid and colorful a soundscape as any pop lover could ask for. David Sprague

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