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Sweeder



This Chicago-based indie threesome creates lovely little pop songs that are infused with the ethereal atmosphere of the kinds of dreams from which you wake up smiling. The music is warm, luscious, velvety; it sidles up beside you and strokes your senses. This isn't to suggest that it's not without its rough, lonesome, anguished moments, but these are always framed by the overall loveliness of the songs' compositions, allowing you to experience them without anxiety. The overall effect lies somewhere between the Cocteau Twins' revelatory gravity-defying flights of musical fancy and Throwing Muses' more earthy melodic indie rock.

The partnership at the center of Sweeder between guitarist/keyboardist/singer Jeff Carleton and drummer/singer Chiyoko Yoshida has endured not only the breakup of their old band, Squash Blossom, but also the demise of their own relationship. The duo's decades-old closeness comes out in the tightly woven male/female vocal interplay that runs through most of their songs. Sweeder's third member, Julie Liu, plays bass and some really lovely viola and violin parts, contributing additional layers to the band's intricate, multihued sound.

Though Yoshida and Carleton began playing together as Sweeder in 1996, they didn't record until 1998 and didn't get an album out until 2000. That release, Swallowed by the Sun, is a warm, elegiac, occasionally heartachey affair that will provide good company any time you're feeling lonesome. The whispery, extraordinarily poetic "Moon" and the beautifully constructed homesick epic "Bells Lament" provide the bookends of that release. This is great stuff for those moments when you want your heartstrings plucked.

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