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[Not so] Super-group

Sweet Apple - Love & Desperation
(Tee Pee Records)
2 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: April 16, 2010
Sweet Apple

Review by Tony Bonyata

Sweet Apple is the new collaborative effort between the better-known entities of J Mascis (vocalist and guitar extraordinaire from Dinosaur Jr.), Dave Sweetapple (from Witch) and John Petkovic & Tim Parnin (both from Cobra Verde). The coming-together for their debut full- length album Love & Desperation might be viewed as some type of indie/ alt-rock supergroup - if, in fact, there was really anything that super about it.

The band started out by chance after the unfortunate death of Petkovic's mother. It was then that he drove aimlessly out east and hooked up with his former friends and future bandmates that would make up Sweet Apple. And while the initial encounter was a product of what the album title implies (love, loss and desperation), there's also a strong, positive sense of camaraderie and friendship played out in many of these upbeat tracks, even when some of the songs themselves leave something to be desired.

The record starts out with the punchy, if not hazily familiar stadium rocker "Do You Remember" and continues in a similar heavy-handed '70s arena-rock fashion with numbers like "Flying Up The Mountain," "Never Came," "Crawling Over Bodies" and the poppier Alice Cooper-meets- Lynryd Skynryd track "Somebody Else's Problem." Thankfully the whole record isn't a direct ode to the bloated excesses of '70s rock as witnessed on "It's Over Now," the murky, dirgey Doors-in-spandex track "Blindfold," the decidedly punkier "Hold Me, I'm Dying" and the surprise inclusion of the lovely, lilting number "Dead Moon."

There's no doubt that many will be interested in this record solely for Mascis' involvement, but those looking for the early alt-rock sounds of Dinosaur Jr. will be sorely disappointed, as Mascis' prime contribution to Sweet Apple is that of their drummer. With that said, however, he does also occasionally add his signature guitar and vocals to the mix, and when either rear their head they're not only instantly recognizable, but also a welcome addition to this rather unmemorable affair.

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