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Diamond Star Highway

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Album Review

Did it take twenty-plus years for the paisley underground scene to drift across America to the Midwest? Maybe not, but Cleveland, OH's Rainy Day Saints have made what sounds like the great lost album of the pop-psych revival genre with Diamond Star Highway. Guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Dave Swanson has had more than his share of experience in crafting great pop-centric rock as a member of Death of Samantha, Cobra Verde and Guided by Voices, but with Rainy Day Saints he's taken Hungry Man portions of British Invasion jangle, psychedelic melodic haze, folk-rock undercurrents and enough energy to keep the proceedings from sounding effete, and on Diamond Star Highway the results sound mighty fine indeed. There's just the right touch of swagger on "No Surprise," "I Don't Follow" is pure Rickenbacker-fueled bliss, "Infinity (Impossible Like a Train)" is a killer Dylan-meets-Stones hybrid, and the fuzzy, languid menace of their cover of the Dead Boys' "Sonic Reducer" takes one of the great tunes of the first era of U.S. punk and presents it with a fresh new perspective. Swanson is hardly the only star of this show — bassist Brian P. McCafferty and drummer Scott Pickering are an imaginative and rock-solid rhythm section, while Keith Pickering's guitar accents are spot on throughout. But as the key idea man, Swanson deserves a round of applause for making an impressive step to frontman status, and proving there are still new worlds left to be conquered in the world of garage-minded rock & roll. Would the Long Ryders and Green on Red be so kind as to reunite so Rainy Day Saints can play on a perfect bill where they'd be right at home?

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