Swervedriver’s reunion is one of those rare rock and roll rekindlings
that’s not the least bit questionable.No need to ponder over the integrity of the singer guy's (Adam Franklin) vocals, nor
should one be suspect about the group’s motives. In fact, the only circumstance where you'll be paying three-figures a pop to see them perform is if they've attached themselves to a music festival. Simply put, there's no acrimony between this band and their humble legion of hanger-oners , and despite the decade long layover once a Swervies fan, always a Swervies fan.
I was absolutely besotted with their debut Raise, when it dropped in 1991. A seemingly effortless (and perhaps unintentional) amalgam of ear-bleeding dream-pop rock, buttressed with grunge-worthy heaps of distortion that found this Oxford, UK quartet traipsing on the coattails of both disparate spheres in more than respectable fashion. No question about it, Raise was a revelation - an often murky latticework of amped-out feedback, woozy pedal-ridden effects, and subrosa melodies. Truth be told I pined for the guitarsy freak-outs
of "Sandblasted" and "Son of Mustang Ford" to be remolded on subsequent Swervdriver albums.That selfish “pining,” as it were, remains unfulfilled to this day, but
even with the more noisome attributestamped down, the band's sinewy and complex arrangementswere retained on Mezcal Head, Ejector Seat Reservation, and 99th Dream, albeit in a measurably more lucid modus operandi. So where and how does I Wasn't Born to Lose You
stack up after such an elephantine wait?
Amazingly, I Wasn't Born...sounds like a bona fide Swervedriver album, and not merely a continuation of Adam's solo albums, or stretching back a bit further, his post-SD conglomeration Toshack Highway. Perhaps we can chalk this up to three quarters of the '90s line-up still loyally intact, with lead six-stringer Jimmy Hartridge and bassist Steve George remaining in tow - almost as integral to the band's chemistry as Adam Franklin himself. The tuneful and glistening opening salvo, "Autodidact" doesn't pick up where 1998's 99th Dream left off, so much as their sophomore 1993 platter Mezcal Head. "Autodidact" is a remarkably good sign of things to come, leading into Born's... most sonically dense cut, "Last Rites," which is accented with washes of flanged guitars and sturdy sonic musculature. Further in, "Deep Wound" is about as close as the Swervies come to replicating Raise's feedback-layered aesthetic. "Setting Sun's" chiming interplay and the resonating "For a Day Like Tomorrow" could also pass for outtakes of yore. Aside from the overlong "Everso" and "Red Queen Arms Race's" bluesy, slow-burning stride, I Wasn't Born... is near faultless. It's tempting to refer to this as Swervedriver's "return to form," but the fact is they've deviated negligibly from their twentieth century formula. Furthermore, one is left to wonder how many more terrific Swervedriver albums we'd have on our hands had it not been for their fifteen year dormancy between records!
The band have concluded a run of dates in the States, and will be visiting Canada in May and June. Check out I Wasn't Born to Lose You from Amazon, iTunes, and Insound.
It appears a heck of a lot of you were down with my first Teen Line compilation offering from last month, making the presentation of volume two in the series a no brainer. For those of you who wish to get caught up to speed, check out my write-up in the link above. In a nutshell, the fan-curated Teen Line series was a Nuggets-esque assemblage of American DIY power pop singles with an emphasis on acts that opted not to tread in the more aggressive footsteps of punk. Not much in the way of household name status here, dovetailing perfectly within the wheelhouse of this humble webpage.
Boasting 27 songs by nearly as many participants, certain cuts are unsurprisingly more prime than others on Teen Line no. 2. There are no less than three compositions from a Santa Barbara act the curator was notably partial to, The Tearaways, who by the way still maintain a presence. In fact I posted a (mulleted) Tearways related project dubbed the Volcanos not too long ago, but I digress. Another band featured here with an even closer brush with fame is Shrapnel, featuring a pre-stoner, pre-Monster Magnet Dave Wyndorf. Damn, why they didn't go with the far more potent and visceral "Combat Love" instead of the comparatively flacid "Go Cruisin'" is beyond me. Ponderous. Other offerings on the heightened likability side of the fence include The Tyrants, Tiny Voices, Two Minutes 50, Buffalo's Toys and Milwaukee's invariably satisfying Squares. I'd beremiss if I didn't mention that Tweed's cult classic "I Need That Record," a Nick Lowe-induced three minute surge praising vinyl (and exclusively vinyl), earns it's rightful spot on the Teen Line roster to boot. The track list is to your left.
Recently had a request for this one. The ContinentalsFizz Pop... 10" ep was released in conjunction with two other 10" eps by New Musik and Propaganda on Epic Records as part of their "Nu Disk" series which I opined about in 2009. This trio was said to be of American descent, but were apparently stationed in the UK. Indistinctive, but largely effective power pop/AOR in the mold of contemporaries The A's and Tommy Tutone. Per Discogs this was ostensibly The Continentals parting shot, and was produced by Tommy Erdelyi (Ramone).
01. Fizz Pop (Modern Rock)
02. Walking Tall
03. Housewives Delight
04. Two Lips From Amsterdam
This one is pretty cut and dry. 2014 saw the twentieth anniversary of Guided By Voicesbreakthrough masterstroke, Bee Thousand. Considering the onstage antics of figurehead Robert Pollard go hand in hand with booze, it was only a matter of time that the tradewinds of cross-marketing would propel the man in question to unite with a hip distillery to craft a hearty new brew. An expanded Director's Cut reissue of Bee Thousand dropped on the album's tenth anniversary in '04, and I suppose the only fitting way to up the ante ten years later was to let the sweet amber flow.
You can peruse some pertinent details about the collaboration with Dogfish Head brewery here, where you will learn (if you haven't already) about a special 1000 pack bundle of the drink that was paired with an exclusive GBV 10" ep, featuring ten songs from a 1994 gig at New York's Threadwaxing Space. This particular combo has long sold out, and to my knowledge the music hasn't been made available elsewhere. That's about to change right about now. Behold, a veritable dream setlist from the band's storied Pollard/Sprout/Mitchell et al incarnation, and a performance that can ironically be described as...sober. Go ahead and get hammered. I'm making this available in FLAC and MP3.
01. Shocker in Gloomtown
03. Gold Star for Robot Boy
04. 14 Cheerleader Coldfront
05. Break Even
06. Postal Blowfish
07. Drinker's Peace
08. My Impression Now
09. Echoes Myron
10. I Am a Scientist
I've got an Aussie import for you today that I was compelled to track down upon stumbling across an MP3 of The Stockings'"(She's a) Devil." Hailing from Australia's left coast, this Perth combo indulged in driving, albeit straitlaced power pop/wave without resorting to any obvious gimmicks, not unlike contemporary country-mates the Serious Young Insects, who I featured a spell or two back. The title track, which opens this thing up, is less than substantive, but once it passes, Red Tango is predominantly if not completely good news. In addition to the aforementioned "(She's a) Devil," "Good Luck,""Boy Girl," and "Limbo" persuade me just as much. I'm detecting negligible traces of XTC and Joe Jackson among others, but your results may vary. An ep and some singles surrounded Red Tango, but it appears the album's track list overlaps heavily. At any rate, enjoy (or not).
01. Red Tango
03. This Girl That Girl
04. Make You Cry
05. Mercy Man
06. Good Luck
07. Boy Girls
08. Tiny Voices
10. (She's a) Devil
11. On My Knees
You know 'em, you (should) love 'em, Tim Lee and Bobby Sutliff, the duo aka The Windbreakers, one of the most genuine and consistently gratifying guitar pop acts to emanate from the deep south, circa the Reagan-era. I've dedicated no shortage of space to them over the tenure of this site, be it via their Electric Landlady and At Home With Bobby and Tim cd reissues, not to mention a couple of Tim Lee sideprojects. I have one more morsel from the Windbreakers oeuvre to impart, namely this 12"/ep, featuring the sitar-flavored "I'll Be Back," an emphasis track from the band's 1986 Run LP. Like the Plimsouls? You'll be totally down with this tasty jam. It's backed with two exclusive tracks. First up it's "Don't Take Her Out of My World," a cover of an early, pre-stardom Katrina and the Waves song. The final selection, "Things We Never Say" was penned by Lee collaborator Howard Wuefling.
BTW, in case you weren't aware, Bobby was critically injured in a 2012 car accident, which you can catch up to date on here. While he was on the mend, a tribute CD, Skrang! Sounds Like Bobby Sutliff was curated to raise funds for his recovery. It's still available through Paisley Pop.
A. I'll Be Back
B1. Don't Take Her Out of My World
B2. Things We Never Say
The following blurb was taken from issue 49 of Big Takeover magazine. I remembering liking this one at the time and still do, as well as a full length that followed a few years later. Semion's website is dormant, and there's not much further info to be had on 'em it appears.
indie-Brit power-poppers have a knack for jangly pop that runs the gamut from
The Ropers (“Paul Loves Derek”), Teenage Fanclub (“Dumb”), early Sloan
(“Sunny”), and even Eugenius (“Year of the Monkee,” which cops a few lines from
the Replacements “Talent Show”). While Get a Grip finds Semion cutting
their teeth on all the aforementioned, it’s pretty apparent that the band has
yet to grow into a fully distinctive sound that they can claim as their
own. Still, with what they presently aspire
to, they’re off to a fine start.