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Equal to the Influence: Superdrag, April 24 at RIBCO PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Wednesday, 22 April 2009 10:48


The first impression of Superdrag's Industry Giants is pure punk on "Slow to Anger," barely updated for the new millennium, and the second impression is My Bloody Valentine on "Live & Breathe," with its patient, droning guitar textures. The rest of the band's comeback album is confirmation that it defies pigeonholing.

But Superdrag -- which will be performing a Daytrotter show at RIBCO on Saturday, April 24 -- isn't impressive for merely being more than competent at different genres. What's striking is that it's nearly liquid; despite the stylistic shifts, the quartet is comfortable enough in the songs that the music all sounds of-a-piece. While Superdrag never transcends its influences, it is sometimes their equal, and that's no faint praise.

The alternative-rock band scored a hit in 1996 with "Sucked Out," saw its major-label debut sell well and its follow-up tank, went the indie route, disbanded in 2003 in the wake of frontman John Davis' religious conversion following alcohol and drug problems, and re-formed last year with its original lineup. It released Industry Giants on its own label in March, and the disconnect between the title and the cover image of four ants seems to reflect a self-effacing modesty, an acknowledgment that its "Buzz Bin" days are long past.

But this isn't the sound of a band trying to cash-in on faded glory. In a three-star review of Industry Giants, the Chicago Sun-Times wrote that "punk aggression, space-rock atmospherics, and neatly crafted pop sensibilities combined to set Superdrag apart from their alterna-rock peers in the 1990s. Those skills remain sharp."

In one four-song sequence on the new album, the shifts should be startling. "Filthy & Afraid" recalls the hard, glittering gems by Grant Hart in Hüsker Dü, and "You're Alive" is a cousin to "Born to Be Wild," and "5 Minutes Ahead of the Chaos" even sounds like it was recorded in the hardcore era, and "Aspartame" finds a reggae guitar and percussion in the chorus.

But as the All Music Guide wrote of the record: "[T]he might and simple rightness of Superdrag's music gives the album all the coherence it needs, and you'd be hard pressed to find a pop band that rocks as hard as Superdrag -- or a rock band that has hooks this tasty."

Superdrag will perform at RIBCO (1815 Second Avenue in Rock Island) on Friday, April 24. Doors open at 7 p.m., and Curb Service opens. Cover is $10.

For more information on the band, visit or

The band's Daytrotter session from 2007 and an interview can be found here.

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