Tonight’s selections from Swervedriver’s debut album, Raise.
Shoegaze was birthed in the European countries in the 80s and 90s, while it never hit big across the pond until the revivalists made it “cool” again in the early 2000s. Hailing from England, Swervedriver were less MBV, more Ride as far as aesthetic. Infusing their gaze with alt-rock tendencies, making them an easier pill to swallow than the dreaminess of Ride or the ear-splitting of MBV. The Swerve were the first with major American appeal, as their sound fit snugly into mainstream rock radio easily. And while many of the other shoegaze acts to come from the 90s faded just as quickly as they sprung up, Swervedriver were in for the long haul, producing four underrated classics in their wake.
“Underrated” is the best word to describe Swervedriver. Melding college rock and indie rock acts like Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth, Raise debuted in 1991 and showed crossover appeal thanks to a dedicated following from their previous EPs. “Sci-Fi Flyer” kicks things off in rapid-fire motion, thrusting furiously with feedback and distortion, but not the bleeding style of MBV, instead, more in tune with their American counterparts like the Pixies or even Bleach-era Nirvana. It takes a near 90 seconds before we even get vocals, and they are crisp and clear, something non-fans of the genre complain about with MBV and Ride.
Grungy with apathy to comparisons, Raise moves between its hard-rocking anthems like any 90s classic would. Bolstered by the homogenous vocals of Adam Franklin, “Son of Mustang Ford” typifies the band as a Foo Fighters level arena-rock, and it lead to the band touring the United States in support of mega-giant rockers Soundgarden in 1992. Powerful, driving guitars screech all over the place – “Mustang” established Swervedriver as a force to be reckoned with, pummeling audiences’ eardrums on all fronts; percussion wise Graham Bonner start-stops the intensity on one of the most well-known cuts by the band. — Soundlab
Sci Flyer 
Swervedriver’s roots began in an Oxford band called Shake Appeal, named after a track from Iggy & the Stooges’ Raw Power. After limited success, the band decided to split with some of the remaining members forming Swervedriver. Almost never was a band more aptly named. With the car references and a swirly rush of guitars on every track, how could they be named anything else? Guitarist Jimmy Hartridge explains in the reissue’s liner notes that 4-track EP’s were “all the rage in the early ’90s.” And so, three EP’s featuring the title tracks of “Son of Mustang Ford,” “Rave Down,” and “Sandblasted” were released thanks to a tape passed to Ride’s Mark Gardener, which was then passed to Alan McGee and Creation Records. Hartridge goes on to explain that back then, if you had four songs done, you just put them out as an EP, there wasn’t any saving up for a full-length release. But, a full-length treatment was finally given and the tracks surrounding the early singles were just as potent.
The dual guitars and vocals of Hartridge and Adam Franklin were hypnotic, assaulting and yet incredibly pop oriented. Walls of guitar noise, a wash of effects pedals, anchoring melodic bass lines and hyper-OCD drumming fill every track on the album, from the psychedelic swirls of “Sci-Flyer,” to the hard charging “Son of Mustang Ford” and the sunnier “Feel So Real.” Luckily, these U.S. reissues include bonus tracks, with Raise featuring the “Mustang Ford” b-side, “Kill the Superheroes,” a fan favorite and prominent example of the band’s complex sound, yet understandable appeal. There are times when “Superheroes” sounds like an MBV tidal wave, others when it resembles a Stooges spitfire, and still more when it sounds like it could have been for J. Robbins and Billy Corgan what Marty McFly was for Chuck Berry. — Treblezine
Son of Mustang Ford 
1991's Raise was a quality debut, and it's dated surprisingly well. The muscular, scorching guitars are the heart of the album, and they still bring the noise like nobody's business. The big distortion and interlocking riffs give most of the album a dense, bright sound with a lot of punch. "Son of Mustang Ford" rumbles like the car it's named for, "Rave Down" launches into hyperspace after three minutes of tense, grungy crunching, and "Sunset" pulls back a bit, layering cleaner guitars than usual over a bubbling bassline and unison vocals. — Pitchfork
Rave Down 
WHO’S TALKING TO WHO?
Jimmy Kimmel: Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, Pamela Adlon, Banks
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