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The Swigs: Let It Come Down (Sapient)

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Kevin Henderson and his band, the Swigs, obviously adore classic and progressive rock, but it comes off as experimental and challenging, rather than passé. The band's no-holds-barred attitude, combining noisy jams and instrumental virtuosity, sounds inventive even in this postmodern age of information overload.

The group both nods to and challenges the conventions of classic power trios such as Cream and Led Zeppelin on the title track and the scorching "Freak Flag," a celebration of the almighty riff, but the heavy blues-funk approach is leavened by a lightness of being. At the same time, the more garage-pop-oriented "Everybody's Saying" has a crunchy, driving groove. While guitarist and vocalist Henderson tears it up on every tune, credit must go to drummer Blaine Rybke and bassist Mark Witt, who constitute a limber and versatile rhythm section.

The standout cut is "Ploughed in the Stars," a six-minute epic during which Henderson's guitar seems to meld prog with Celtic music. It smokes something fierce, and in the middle, the band drops into acoustic mode with an adaptation of the traditional number "Jack of Diamonds."

The album closes with "Imaginary Western" parts I and II, through which Henderson weaves his guitar, applying everything from jazzy harmolodics to bluesy psychedelia. This excellent disc will engage thoughtful rock fans in search of something fresh.

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