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41

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Album Review

Swell are swell on this third full-length release. They're a moody, eclectic, folky, and esoteric San Francisco foursome, who mine the same vein in every song, utilizing the reedy, calm, vocals, and constantly strummed acoustic of David Freel into mesmerizing results. It's a smooth, quiet ride until a jolting power chord snaps you out of your lull, seemingly out of nowhere. Combine this with soaring, electric slide guitar that offsets the melodies and subtle hooks, as well as Sean Kirkpatrick's creative collage of drum fills and syncopation, rather than straight beats — a territory Stephen Morris of Joy Division adapted to their rigid sound, mixed with Stewart Copeland's style and hi-hat flourishes. 41 is existential slacker-rock.

Biography

Formed: 1989

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Alternating influences from neo-psychedelia, noise pop, and Ennio Morricone film scores, Swell formed in San Francisco in 1989 when vocalist/guitarist David Freel and drummer Sean Kirkpatrick decided to record an album. Enlisting second guitarist John Dettman and bassist Monte Vallier, the band recorded a self-titled debut album and released it on their own Psycho Specific label in April 1990. After playing live for the first time in August — a support slot for Mazzy Star at San Francisco's...
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41, Swell
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