For Citizen Swing, release of the Spokane band’s second album, “Deep Down,” is a decided relief.
In a way, the album, recorded in off-and-on fashion over the last year, marks the band’s debut. Citizen Swing’s first record, “Cure Me With the Groove,” wasn’t really a true representation of today’s band. In fact, it wasn’t even written by the five-piece unit.
The album was composed entirely by its producers. Citizen Swing merely took instructions.
It was an attempt by the producers to manufacture this amazing mainstream-friendly band, and then shop it to the major labels.
“It was really weird because there was a format that we were kind of instructed to stay within,” said singer-guitarist Myles Kennedy. “We were all more comfortable with rock and we could do the jazz stuff and the R&B; and soul stuff. It was an attempt to make this commercial, very fast-food music.”
“Cure Me With the Groove” was so slick and contrived, and oftentimes cheesy, that it could have easily come out on a major label. Only a rock band playing swing wasn’t exactly what the majors were looking for.
Citizen Swing, which plays Outback Jack’s on Saturday, isn’t fond of the experience. Yet the members - including guitarist Craig Johnson, drummer Mike Tshirgi, trumpeter Geoff Miller and bassist Dave Turner - don’t entirely regret the whole venture because, after all, it linked the musicians. And from the whole thing emerged a mature, talented rock combo.
“It got the ball rolling,” said Johnson.
“We started growing as a band and went our own way,” Johnson said. “I have nothing bad to say about anybody.”
Citizen Swing undoubtedly faced much pressure recording “Deep Down” because the band had to prove to its large local fan base, most of which owned the first record, that it could come up with good, solid material of its own. Unfortunately, the LP took the band nearly a year to record, a frustrating experience in itself.
“We were hoping,” Kennedy said, “when we went in to record last January, that the album would be done in February. It just ended up …”
“… taking a year,” finished Johnson.
“Initially we had two weeks blocked out and we thought we’d just go in and knock it out,” continued the guitarist. “Everything that could go wrong went wrong - gear breaking down and people’s schedules.”
“It was so frustrating,” added Kennedy.
Johnson and Kennedy speculate “Deep Down” might have fared better had the band had the luxury of recording all in one chunk. However, the long-player turned out just fine. Even though a few songs were left off because they didn’t gel with the rest of the material, “Deep Down” sounds remarkably focused and cohesive.
“We’re excited,” said Kennedy. “It’s nice to have something that we’re relatively confident … and comfortable with,” Kennedy said.
“It’s a good product,” Johnson agreed. “For the short amount of time that it’s been out, it’s been well-received.”
The band’s next task is to promote and distribute the new release, which ought to be an uphill battle since Citizen Swing is unsigned. The quintet financed, recorded and released the disc with its own money.
Buddha Leadbelly and Jack Salad open. Showtime’s at 9:30 p.m. $4 is the cover.
Elsewhere in the night
There’s a new all-ages venue for kids, albeit temporary.
It’s - are you ready for this? - Westminster United Church of Christ, 411 S. Washington.
Tonight, a slew of young local hardcore and emocore bands will be on stage. They include Element 115, Meadowbrook Oval, the Deadbeats, Apocalyptic Death Toll and Disstash.
Admission is only $2.