January 11, 2007

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Ben Swift, Pull
Coil Records, 2006

We’d discussed Boston-based loud-ass no-wavers Black Bear a while back but weren’t privy to Coil’s actual debut release (which technically hit shelves last spring) until just now. Swift is one of two chef/cook/bottle-washers at the western Massachusetts imprint and is here found making a run at pop-folk of the sort that does tend to get people places, but he’ll have to consider less telegraphing of his moves if he’s to clamber upward a rung. It’s okay to be excited about releasing CDs, but entirely different to so clumsily thieve from the big shots in your opening salvo, as “Is This What You Want” does from Tom Petty’s “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” down to the restrained falsetto during the look-at-me parts. The arrangements are well done but there’s a beginner’s sense of melodic oomph; what Swift could use a lot more than furthering his studio technique (or expanding his instrumental range — he’s already messing with a wide, rather bizarre set of instruments) is time spent with some natural-born songwriters, or at least someone who’ll make him drop and give them 20 whenever he tries to disguise up-a-step verses as legit hookage. C+E.W.S.