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Swan Dive

UNTIL •  Swan Dive

How immensely satisfying. Although in their many records (this is their eighth) Swan Dive has usually incorporated at least a couple of bossa selections, this landmark release is genre dedicated. It's an essential American contribution to the art form of bossa nova.

What is it about bossa nova that refuses to fade away, to be eclipsed, or to simply be forgotten in the wake of information and sensation saturation? It is irresistible, simply. It works perfectly in the background, impeccably in the foreground, and is the music of love. I have never heard any angry or angsty bossa songs, I don't think they exist. (Now, don't go and write one, you contrary composer, you.) Sad ones? Sure, there are lots of bittersweet or melancholy bossa ballads; in fact, the happy sad simultaneity is a mainstay of the bossa vibe, which is classically evidenced by the song "Happy Sad" on this disc.

Bill DeMain and Molly Felder have been writing and performing bossa nova and smart pop now for a long time, and they are masters of the craft. Both would probably find the word mortifying; call it reviewer's prerogative. Bill has roped in many of his finest co-writers on this project, and added a great one in the engaging and very talented Julianna Raye, whose pair of eleventh hour co-writes open the record, including the title track.

At least on record, other new co-writers include Puremusic fave Daniel Tashian and Curt Perkins, Korean Kim Songhoon, Rebecca C. Valdez and hit writer Angela Kaset. DeMain standbys in song include Boo Hewerdine, Jill Sobule and Robin Eaton (whose devilishly inspired S&M love song co-write was picked up by Walmart) and the lovely Rebecca Martin.

Co-Producer Brad Jones is, of course, on hand, to say the least; he always shines, here on bass, organ and piano. (When he's not engineering or mixing, that is.) Explosive Mickey Grimm on skins, Jim Hoke on a half dozen of his favorite things, and Chris Carmichael on strings are the ever-recurring cast. But the rest of the party includes James "Hags" Haggerty on bass, Paul Deakin on vibes, Bryan Cumming on sax, and Barry Green on trombone. Check the tracks on the Listen page to hear why you must buy Until. (And don't miss our video of Molly & Bill here.)

American fans are still discovering what their much wider audiences in Japan and Korea have long known. This is one of the great American duos, Swan Dive. More than recommended. • Frank Goodman

Swan Dive

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   swandive.org       visit their myspace

buy Until here now (it is expected at iTunes in Aug. or Sept., at eMusic and Rhapsody a little sooner) 

see our interviews with Swan Dive (3/2004 and 10/2000)

photographer/designer Griffin Norman's site

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