Rainy Day Saints frontman Dave Swanson did time in mythologized Ohio bands Death of Samantha, Guided by Voices, and Cobra Verde. On the Saints' stunning sophomore LP, Diamond Star Highway, he's well on the way to establishing his own local legacy. Swanson originally conceived RDS as a solo vehicle, tackling all the instrumental duties on 2004's Saturday's Haze. For Highway, he's recruited expert backing that transforms the Saints into a full-fledged combo, which deftly mixes sparkling power-pop with '60s-style psychedelia.
Swanson exhibits his gift for hooks on gems like "Mirror Mystery" and "Don't Look Away." He and bassist Brian McCafferty harmonize sweetly enough to incite full-fledged sing-alongs, while the Saints skillfully pile on harmonica, horns, and keyboards. A slithering, drugged-out cover of "Sonic Reducer" scores as well. But genre-dropping and description just obscure the simple truth: Diamond Star Highway is just damn good rock and roll.