Swag | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Swag began a couple years ago as a side project for keyboardist Jerry Dale McFadden (of the twee Sixpence None the Richer) and guitarist Robert Reynolds (of pomo countrypolitan stars the Mavericks). Eventually a few other rockers with time on their hands--including former Wilco drummer Ken Coomer, Cheap Trick bassist Tom Petersson, and solo artist Doug Powell--joined the Nashville-based party, and with the release of the recent Catchall (Yep Roc), Swag has evolved into a genuine working band. For listeners who grew up on the same music these guys did, the album is one big game of name-that-rip-off. "Different Girl" is a rewrite of the Beach Boys' "You Still Believe in Me," "Lone," with its ambrosial vocal harmonies, could be a Hollies outtake, and "You" milks the mellow sweetness of early Todd Rundgren. But the band is well aware of its plagiarisms and even makes fun of them: on "Ride" (which at one point borrows a hook from the Sesame Street theme) McFadden asks, "Do you have a favorite Cheap Trick song?" And although the liner notes claim that "Please Don't Tell" pays homage to the Kinks, the song swipes from the Zombies, the Beatles, and even ELO. There's not a lick of original thought here, but the songs are so insanely catchy I can't really complain. This set is part of the three-night Chicago Indiepop Fest, assembled by avid taper Aadam Jacobs and Abbey Pub booker Sean Duffy. Warren Pash--the guy who wrote Hall & Oates's hit "Private Eyes"--will sit in for Petersson, who's touring with Cheap Trick. Archer Prewitt headlines; the Slugs, David Singer, and the Buddyrevelles open. Saturday, May 26, 9 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace; 773-478-4408.


Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jim Herrington.

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