Same old tune

Catch-all (Yep Roc Records)
Swag

By Kevin Gibson

Reminiscent of the Cavedogs, Swag's breezy, happy jangle pop makes me smile and tap my feet. All twelve of the songs on the band's new album, Catch-all, are up-tempo pop jaunts or cool ballads from a band that knows its craft - all tunes are collaborative efforts from at least two Swag members, and the Swagsters prove to be skilled musicians and keen song arrangers.

The only problem is they just aren't original song arrangers. "Lone" gets out of the gate sounding like a direct tribute the Hollies' "On a Carousel" (Allan Clarke, where are you?). Pristine backing vocals and Robert Reynolds' 12-string stylings make it an ear-opener, but following that, the up-tempo "I'll Get By" rises up and almost immediately another comparison can be drawn - this sounds like an outtake from any recent album by the Spongetones, another band hell-bent on sounding like every other pop band that came before.

"Near Perfect Smile," is in reality a near-Mersey Beat ballad, and does Swag some justice, but just as you prepare to settle into something different, "Please Don't Tell" stomps in, sounding way, way, way too much like the Zombies' "She's Not There." All right guys, we get it.

But wait, "When She Awoke," track five, is another ballad. Can it be? Yes, it can. Calling Chris von Sneidern; calling Chris von Sneidern. And track seven? Isn't that a cut from McCartney's first solo album? What gives??

Sorry. In truth, if you like power pop, this is an album you should probably check out. In fact, if Swag comes to Louisville, I'll be there just to look at their Rickenbackers and listen to the hooks. But if it's ORIGINAL power pop you seek (and I know that may be an oxymoron of sorts, but humor me here), better to look toward other avenues, such as Travis or the Rosenbergs - or just pull out your copy of Rubber Soul and turn up the volume to 11.