A throwback ’70s pop-rock jam from Cobra Verde singer John Petkovic, Dinosaur Jr. axe god J. Mascis and Witch bassist Dave Sweetapple, the self-referential Sweet Apple crafts summery anthems perfectly built for the bong room or mini-golf course. Sweet irony, given the band was formed after a distraught Petkovic nearly lost his noodle.
Featuring a lineup comprised of members of Cobra Verde, Dinosaur Jr. , and Witch, it's no great surprise that Sweet Apple rock out big time on their debut album Love and Desperation, but if you're expecting this to sound like some loud indie rock super session, think again. Singer and guitarist John Petkovic wrote the songs on Love and Desperation while struggling with some personal demons after the death of his mother, but rather than explain the details of his crises in song, this album sounds like a man shaking off death by embracing life through rock, spelled RAWK.
Alt-rock all-stars swing hard, hit some The first seconds of Sweet Apple’s debut barrel forth with an onslaught of dirty rock ‘n’ roll; the four-piece, don’t-call-them-a-supergroup spews an avalanche of trash reminiscent of the New York Dolls’ hostile proto-punk. J Mascis, frontman of the hallowed Dinosaur Jr., has traded in his guitar for drums, pummeling through Love & Desperation with jarring force. Sweet Apple throbs with a swaggering garage-rock bravado that’s more evocative of guitarists Tim Parnin and John Petkovic’s group Cobra Verde than Mascis’ iconic band.
Sweet Apple’s Love & Desperation promises much. Firstly, there’s the fact that it’s the debut collaboration between J. Mascis, Dave Sweetapple from retro metalheads Witch, and Tim Parnin and John Petkovic from glitzy punk band Cobra Verde. Then there’s that album cover, which appears to be an attempt to recreate Roxy Music’s Country Life sleeve with a couple of Suicide Girls.
J Mascis' involvement in Sweet Apple might be the main draw for most, but it's also somewhat misleading. Like the other Tee Pee Records band in which Mascis is involved (sludge merchants Witch), his role here is strictly supporting. Sweet Apple's main man is instead John Petkovic, a Cleveland-area musician with his own three-decade career, in two respected yet unheralded bands (Death of Samantha and Cobra Verde).