There's nothing particularly original about paying tribute to the better aspects of '70s hard rock and pop. Nash Kato did it on his solo sojourn away from Urge Overkill, and Cobra Verde frontman John Petkovic does it equally well on Love & Desperation, the debut album by his well-stocked side project, Sweet Apple. The group was spawned from Petkovic's grief following his mother's death, and it's something of an indie supergroup, comprising Petkovic and Cobra Verde bandmate Tim Parnin, Witch bassist Dave Sweetapple, and Dinosaur Jr. frontman J. Mascis, who plays guitar and drums here.
The first hint that the band is paying homage to a bygone era is the cover art, a deliciously skeevy hat tip to Roxy Music's Country Life. Sonically, Sweet Apple bob for influences a little earlier in the decade; "Blindfold" and "Crawling Over Bodies" sound like a gene splice of the Doors with Love It to Death-era Alice Cooper, "Never Came" suggests Blue Cheer produced by Mick Ronson, "I've Got a Feeling (That Won't Change)" soars like an indie band with a classic-rock obsession, and "Flying Up a Mountain" swaggers like a similarly steered White Stripes. The album's opening and closing numbers, "Do You Remember" and "Goodnight," bristle with the hard-rock anthemics, crunchy guitar fury, and power-pop melodicism of a Motorhead/Big Star summit. Perhaps the most amazing aspect of Love & Desperation isn't that Petkovic and Sweet Apple have handily updated the roar of the '70s, but that Petkovic's natural mourning could have inspired something so joyous, life-affirming, and gloriously loud. — Brian Baker