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.