Baggage is a 3-piece rock band from Flint, Michigan featuring members of the now defunct pop-punk band, The Swellers. This last December, the band released the Cheaper Than Therapy EP. It is worth noting that this EP is available on their Bandcamp page where you can pay whatever you like for the project. Proceeds from the first two months of sales will go to rebuilding a home destroyed in a fire.
Listening to this project brought to mind the title of one of my favorite records, Deja Entendu. “Deja entendu” is Latin for “already heard.” Upon first listen, I didn’t immediately realize that Baggage featured ex-Swellers members, but I definitely got a Swellers vibe in the music, so if you’ve ever listened to that band, you can get a decent idea of what you’re in for here.
As a long time lapsed pop-punk fan, I’ve become increasingly aware of all the tropes the genre has carried, especially in the last five years or so. Upon listening to the EP’s opener, “Flint” I must admit that I was preparing to write this album off as just another pop-punk act. Like I said, “Deja Entendu.” It’s a slower, strummy song filled with lyrics referencing street names and what-have-you.
Still, I tried to not let the cynic in me ruin listening to this project. While a lot of this record sounds familiar to people that are into this type of music, the songwriting is still genuine, there’s no denying that, and I am a firm believer that anything anyone put honest time and effort into is worth a listen, even if it’s not for you. It’s always been the sincerity in the songwriting that has drawn not only myself, but thousands of others to the genre. I believe that anyone that appreciates this kind of music can appreciate the lyrics of Mr. Nick Diener.
As I listened to the rest of the EP, I didn’t necessarily find anything new or interesting that would make me fall in love with this project or this band, but there were definitely moments that I enjoyed. “The Biggest Bar Night of the Year” for example, is undeniably catchy and is a great song to cruise alone in your car and ponder to. “Cheaper Than Therapy,” the EP’s titular track and closer was the song that really caught my ear. Singer Nick Diener adds a bit more melancholy in his voice, while the bass on the song really drives that similar vibe home as the EP draws to a close, with some interesting guitar parts yet to be heard anywhere else on the project for good measure.
Cheaper Than Therapy, while not trying to reinvent the wheel by any means, is still an undeniably genuine output that anyone who misses The Swellers would definitely enjoy. (Johnny Athey)
For fans of: The Swellers, Transit, The Menzingers