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Chicago's Ellis Clark has made a name for himself producing a bevy of other good folks, such as Kevin Tihista, the Chamber Strings, Nikki Sudden, and June & the Exit Wounds. But he and his brother, Tom Clark, also have a refined little '60s-esque combo, Epicycle, which has perhaps been a little on the back burner since their 1998 LP, Orange, while Ellis was doing all the above. The sibs must have finally cleared their calendars, though, as Swirl picks up where that mid-period Beach Boys/psych-pop-inspired debut left off. It's only a minor influence, not a slavish re-creation like, say, High Llamas (for one thing, they cover David Bowie's obscure "Rubberband") -- instead it's filled with Baroque pop that wouldn't be out of place on a Left Banke LP or one by George Harrison or Emitt Rhodes. Sometimes they remind this writer of Badfinger (not so much that group's colossal hit singles, but their slower LP tracks), sometimes the second-LP Rutles or Dukes of Stratosphear, other times Pink Floyd. They run the gamut with their mélange of flavors: organs, banjos, trombones, jazzy trumpets, strings, piano, tom toms, electric leads, and simple harmonies. These guys are students who turn their love and homage into crafty and sweet pop confections -- bright, not pedantic history lessons. Nice, nice, nice.

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