Friday, July 4, 2014

Flashback Friday: Raise by Swervedriver

Now - there's two things you should know about my musical tastes.  Number 1 - I love Shoegazing bands.  Shoegazing was a musical genre that started in the 1980's or so - and hit its apex in 1991 with bands like My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Lush, and Catherine Wheel.  Shoegazing was known for its dense wall of complex guitar sounds that required many foot pedal effects, forcing the guitarists to stand fairly still, and concentrate on their feet, hence the term "Shoegazing".  (Wikipedia has a great entry on the genre.)

The second thing in my musical tastes is Swervedriver.  Although nominally a Shoegazing band, they also had a fondness for Detroit punk (Stooges, MC5) that added an aggressiveness to their sound that most of their psychedelic brethren in the music scene lacked.  Sadly - they also had one of the worst runs of luck of any major label band, so most of their work comfortably fits in Flashback Friday.  I'm sure I'll be covering all of their four albums eventually, so let's start with their first release, Raise.

You can hear it here:  Raise by Swervedriver (Xbox Music)

Originally begun as a series of EPs, the band collected them together, recorded some new material, and called the resultant album "Raise".  Even though the songs were recorded at different times, it sounds remarkably uniform and works as a coherent statement from the band.  Continuing with the Detroit fascination, many of the songs are about cars and driving.  Highlights include Son Of Mustang Ford, Rave Down, Feels So Real, and Sandblasted.  Think dense melodic guitar rock, in the vein of Dinosaur Jr. or Neil Young - but with a denser, fuzzier wall of sound - and you won't be far off the mark. 

Although well regarded at the time, their run of bad luck also started right after the album's release; during a North American tour, while the band was waiting to enter Canada, the drummer left the tour bus to "get a sandwich" and never returned.  When he was finally located, he would only speak to one of the band members, and stated he wanted out of the band.  Their bass player quit shortly thereafter, leaving just two members to decide the band's fate.  (To be continued...)

Give this a spin and see what you think.  Comments always welcome.

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