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Superdrag



Knoxville, Tennessee's Superdrag is the very essence of power pop, with astoundingly catchy melodies and harmonies and crunching, fuzzed-out guitars. You may remember them from their "Sucked Out" single (a long-running MTV buzz clip). Well, Superdrag was no one-hit wonder, despite the best efforts of Elektra Records, which, in typical major label fashion, snapped the band up when they looked like the Next Big Thing, then dropped them when tastes changed and their follow-up record didn't sell as well (Does this story sound familiar? Exactly the same thing happened to Spoon, another rockin' power-pop band who had the misfortune of signing with Elektra). But great things endure, and Superdrag is a great thing, at least for anyone who enjoys tuneful, well-mixed, intelligently arranged rock and roll power. And who doesn't?

Superdrag started as singer John Davis's solo project. After recording a series of home demos, he recruited band mates from his old group, The Used, guitarist Brandon Fisher, bassist Tom Pappas, and drummer Don Coffey, so that the new band could play live and the entity we now know as Superdrag was born. The group's sound delightfully balanced melodic accessibility and growling aggression; immediately, Superdrag distinguished itself with its knack for building fortresses of feedback and fuzz around perfect pop cores. Davis drew influence from pioneers of melodic pop-rock like the The Beatles, The Zombies, Tommy James and the Shondells, and Big Star, mixing that full, perfect style of sound with the buzz of Husker Du, the fuzz of My Bloody Valentine, and the sprawl of Built To Spill. Their first Darla Records singles (from '94 and '95) showcased this sound, making them an immediate indie rock sensation. Darla has since re-released those cuts as the Senorita EP. In '95 came the explosive collection of fuzzy pop gems, The Fabulous 8-Track Sounds of Superdrag (also on Darla, it features "Sugar").

After that, the majors came a-knockin'. Elektra scooped the band up and dunked them into MTV's Buzz Bin. Superdrag's first album, Regretfully Yours ('96), sold pretty well on the strength of "Sucked Out," but their follow-up, the more ambitious and less accessible Head Trip in any Key ('98), did not. Shortly thereafter, Superdrag parted ways with the unsupportive Elektra, self-releasing an album of B-sides and demos before resurfacing with a third LP on Arena Rock Records. That album, the rather theatrically titled In the Valley of Dying Stars, finds Superdrag doing what they do best: creating fuzzy, crunchingly powerful pop, full of the tastiest hooks around. "Lighting the Way" and "Unprepared" both come from that album.