Like most supergroup projects, Golden Smog's Down By the Mainstream is a loose, relaxed affair that sounds like it was a lot of fun to record. Unlike most supergroups, the members of Golden Smog improve on their regular bands. Comprised of a number of alternative country-rock stars -- including Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, the Jayhawks' Gary Louris, and Soul Asylum's Dan Murphy -- the musicians are releaxed and loose, giving the songs a raw, rootsy kick. Since the album wasn't carefully considered, it has an offhand, relaxed charm that is sometimes lacking from Jayhawks and Soul Asylum albums. Not all of the songs are first rate -- "Pecan Pie" and "Red Headed Stepchild" are a bit too cute to be effective -- but the performances are full of grit and fire, which is what makes Down By the Mainstream such an engaging listen.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine