Superdrag, the Put Outs, Little Champions
Crocodile, 441-5611, Fri Jan 26.

IT WOULD BE EASY to feel sorry for Superdrag. I don't say that because the success of the band's first radio single ("Sucked Out," 1996) qualified it for inclusion on the inevitable K-Tel alterna-rock One Hit Wonders compilation. Nor am I bemoaning the major label that signed Superdrag for dropping the ball with the band's second album because the songs were more subtle, and then nearly screwing up a good little noisy pop album, In the Valley of the Dying Stars, because it couldn't hear the hit. Incidentally, said label dropped Superdrag from its roster at this point.

I could be referencing the fact that power pop seems to be a terminally underappreciated art form in this country. Particularly the crunchy, bittersweet type that Superdrag excels at--the kind that propels you along on a sugar rush of head-bobbing, guitar-driven, melody-packed bliss but unfolds to reveal darker, more cynical lyrical territory. But none of that is really the issue.

The real point is that all the attention that fans and industry insiders have paid to those tangential issues only serves to obscure the fact that Superdrag is a damn good band. The group that has consistently delivered great albums, full of succinct pop gems. This is a band that seems in no danger of stopping anytime soon.

Pick up any of Superdrag's releases, from the earliest self-released EP to last year's In the Valley of Dying Stars, and you can't help but catch a contact high. Buzzing guitars and infectious melodies grab your attention, but it's the lyrics, which often carry quite a sting ("In your eyes you've already spread my thighs/and you're rocking to the next big thing," from "Sucked Out"), that make the songs much more than mere disposable guitar pop. Contempt has rarely been so contagious, and redemption, when it is achieved, has rarely seemed so hard-won.

Throughout Superdrag's career, singer/ songwriter John Davis has displayed an unwavering passion for crafting the perfect three-minute pop song. And it's Davis' obvious love and enthusiasm for music that makes Superdrag truly something to behold. Which is the real bottom line. Superdrag deserves your attention and respect--not your sympathy.

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