John Swerdan ( http://www.johnswerdan.com )Vinyl Wings of Joy
Self-Released ( )
Here's another good reason not to judge a book (or, in this case, a CD) by its cover. The tacky photoshopped front cover and the pictures of a guitar-toting man with a cowboy hat instantly suggests a bad country album. But John Swerdan, if he has a love for Americana, is more likely a Bob Dylan fan. In fact, Bay-area musician Swerdan's entire second album Vinyl Wings of Joy is a rather sappy love letter to the 60s. Jangly guitars, soulful harmonica, harmony backing vocals and string sections are everywhere on this album. Swerdan freely cribs from The Beatles and The Beach Boys on every track here. At times, his homages to these bands become less an appreciation and come dangerously close to plagiarism. “Must Be the Weather” begins with an understated string section and bursts into melodic jangly guitar, just like “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”. The start/stop guitar in “Nodding Off“ seem copied directly from “Taxman”. The title track swirls with light guitars and playful vocal harmonies just like “Surfer Girl”. His influences are obvious, sometimes painfully so. While Swerdan is a capable musician and a half-decent singer, his love for the 60s and aping of the bands of the day becomes repetitive and bland after a listen or two. It's not that it's a bad album to listen to, you just wonder why you're listening to this when you could be listening to The Beatles, who did it first and ten times better.
By Steve Marlow
Jun 11, 2009