Review - Bastards & Rarities 1989-1994

Artist: Swell


The drugged-up, epic acoustica of Swell has never really caught on. The San Francisco group is too rock-oriented for folkies and too swelteringly solipsistic for indie kids. But as precursors to the whole slowcore/ chamber-pop movement that crested with Low, Swell has proven to be prescient and resilient, still making excellent noteworthy records to this day. This collection brings together B-sides from the group's most prolific period, and though the earliest tracks like "Come Tomorrow" and "Get Higher" are justifiably forgotten, others like a noodly, spoken-riff "remix" of "Forget About Jesus" (titled "Forget About Dean") and "What I Saw" (which incorporates the punchy and percussive open chords that defines the band's sound) evince a band at the height of their powers. It's clear that Swell's sound will likely never find a broad audience (some recent attempts to expand that sound were greeted by a deafening silence from longtime fans), but for those who are still under the spell of great albums like 41, this set is a nice addition to the collection.