Sunday, May 24, 2015

This planet's in a shambles, I'm having fun...

Singles/rarities comp from one of my fave '90s bands.  Who cares if they sounded a lot like Green Day?


Dick Diver - Melborne, Florida (2015, Trouble in Mind) - a brief overview

Gone are the days (as it would seem anyway) of paring down Australian acts to sheer triviality.  Unkempt roughnecks AC/DC, and Vegemite-chomping MTV flavors-of-the-minute Men at Work may have colorfully typified Oz's musical contributions in the past, but the truth is even back in the '70s and '80s the land down under wasn't hinged solely on gimmicks.  In fact, come the twenty-first century, most Australian acts are/were largely indistinguishable from their contemporaries inhabiting the west.  So where does Melbourne's Dick Diver factor in? 

Nowhere screamingly obvious to be honest.  In fact it isn't easy to make generalizations about these fellows (and fell-ette Alistair McKay) though a good brunt of the text dedicated to them on other outlets make a big to-do about the quartet's jangly guitar tones (courtesy of McKay and Rupert Edwards).  True that, but sonically, Dick Diver's sweet, clangy chords don't dominate so much as embellish, most effectively on Melbourne, Florida's more extroverted numbers "Tearing the Posters Down" and "Waste the Alphabet."  That facet carries over more subtly onto "Leftovers," where trumpets and sax likewise filter their way into the mix.  Later in, D/D play it up casually and smooth on "Patronage Points," while the going gets more insular and intimate on the acoustic "Boomer Class."  It's apparent that all four participants here contribute to lead vocals, but frustratingly the sleeve notes don't specify who's fronting the mic from song to song.  What I can tell you is that whomever is getting face-time on "Beat Me Up" and "Competition" simply isn't in his natural element.  When all is said done, Melbourne, Florida (D/D's third album, btw) functions as a loose patchwork of styles and pastiches, more seamlessly stitched together in portions than others.  Dick Driver's modest and meager indie-pop tenor nonetheless manages to yield magnificence when all the right components congeal.

Melbourne, Florida is available from all the usual suspects: iTunes, Amazon, Bandcamp, Chapter Music and direct from Trouble in Mind.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Farewell Party - Here (1988, Principe Logique)

Today's artifact comes courtesy of four Yankie expatriates residing in Germany, at least at the time of this recording.  Hoping to follow in the footsteps of the Fab Four perhaps?  Nah.  Instead, the Farewell Party exude artful shades of Felt, the Go Betweens and the Velvets tossing in some lightweight paisley sparkle when it suits them.  Sounds like a fetching recipe (and it is) but this combo is undercut a tad by it's coed commandeers, David John and Lois B., or more specifically their vocals which perilously veer tone deaf more often than not.  Despite the duo's arguable deficiency on the mic, Here's opening shot, "Terez Batista" is brilliant - a mildly baroque, jangle pop piece that arouses as one of the finest left-off-the-dial propositions from this era I've encountered in ages.  "Runaway Horses" is probably the next most convincing specimen in the Farewell Party arsenal, and a subtle but imaginative reworking of Nick Drake's "Things Behind the Sun" is another highlight. 

01. Terez Batista
02. James
03. Things Behind the Sun
04. Complete True Citizens of the World
05. Where Clouds Lie
06. Girl on the Ledge
07. Promise of Rain
08. Here (Letter to America)
09. Runaway Horses
10. Waterland

Monday, May 18, 2015

Mystery Monday do-over.

Apparently what I put up for my originally intended MM selection this morning was frowned upon by certain gatekeepers.  In lieu of this I've provided something entirely different below.  Hopefully this will be a bit more benign for said gatekeepers.  The link will be gone in 24 hours, so don't sleep.


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Enemies - Products of the Street ep (1980, Raw)

Also known as Billy Piranha and the Enemies, Buffalo, NY's Enemies were a talented and entertaining punk quartet who released this stimulating and scintillating ep some 35 years ago.  Their only brush with fame came posthumously in the mid-90s with the Goo Goo Doll's adaptation of "Disconnected" appearing on the the bazillion selling A Boy Named Goo, which no doubt helped the then defunct members of the Enemies with the rent for a few years.  Products of the Street wields something of a pedestrian bent, and even for the era must have been a bit derivative.  "Test Tube Baby" pirates a saucy Ramones riff, and intermittently there are telltale glints of the New York Dolls and Heartbreakers apportioned on the remainder of this platter.  Despite these rather apparent homages, the Enemies possessed some searing rock and roll chops, and the record speaks for itself.  Guitarist Joe Bompczyk (aka Billy Piranha) passed away in 2011, but the surviving members have reunited as recently as last year. 

01. Products of the Street
02. Test Tube Baby
03. Disconnected
04. X-Ray Spex
05. Degeneration
06. Deborah

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Americn Standard - Wonderland (1989) & Trial Size 7" (1994, Maggadee)

Once upon a time, say twenty years ago, I was mega-gonzo for a southern Cali punk crew called Face to Face, whom ingeniously infused a formidable modicum of melodicism into what would have otherwise pass for merely average hardcore/punk.  I couldn't resist the pummeling power chords and Trevor Keith's often profound insight - almost to the point where I found myself asking, how in the hell did these guys pull off all these whiz-kid moves?  As of a couple years ago, I was able to answer my own question upon discovering and becoming a Johnny-come-lately aficionado of American Standard, a New Jersey h/c four-piece that seemingly taught Mr. Keith and Co. at minimum 75% of what they knew.  Either that or an utterly wild coincidence.

American Standard didn’t come close to ascending to the popularity of say, Bad Religion, Naked Raygun or Gorilla Biscuits, but their sole album from the ‘80s, Wonderand, parallels the substance and excitability of the aforementioned.  As for A/S's own influences these guys tore a page or two from Dag Nasty and latter day Government Issue without resorting to sheer plagiarism, like maybe...Face to Face?  Wonderland is an absolute scorcher and deserved a wider audience.  In an attempt to give the record a bigger reach, Another Planet reissued it in 1996 with an alternate sleeve, which I thought was nothing short of pitiful.  I'm offering it here with the original cover.

1995 saw the release of their second album, Piss and Vinegar, which was preceded by the Trial Size 7."   At this stage in the game the band conceded a considerable amount to the prevailing trend du jour, virtually rendering them American Standard in name only.  Make of it what you will.  Finally, Blogged and Quartered are sharing a collection of proto-Wonderland A/S rarities which is well worth your investigation.

01. It Comes Around
02. Building Blocks
03. Without Asking Why
04. Grin
05. 4510
06. Thank You
07. Away
08. Should've Known
09. Superficial
10. So Much

Trial Size 7"
A. Petting Zoo
B. Winding Down

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Fire in the Radio - Telemetry (2015, Wednesday) - A brief overview.

Way back in 2008 I introduced some of you to the band Fire in the Radio, much in the same manner I normally feature other esoteric or outright forgotten artists.  In the case of this presumably defunct Pennsylvania bunch, I didn't have much to go on other than the contents of their 2000 Red Static Action CD, which struck me as an astute merger of mainstream-ish emo grazing at the heels of my much endeared Tar Heels, Superchunk.  In that initial write-up, I lamented the fact that there was no follow-up to Red Static.  Unbelievable as it may sound that all changes this very week when FitR submit their sophomore record, a decade and a half later I might add.  Word has it that certain murmurs in the music blogosphere may have encouraged this quartet to reminisce about days of yore, leading to the reconstruction of Fire in the Radio as a band, and thus Telemetry itself.  Toss in a little crowd-sourcing action and more notably, a current tour and you've got a full blown reunion on your hands...but we won't take any of the credit for that.

The reddish rubber band "planet" adorning Telemetry's album jacket isn't exactly a harbinger of what awaits the listener.  Instead of the loose, pull-a-band-and-it-all-unravels premise it portends, that makeshift rubber ball actually runs contrary to Fire's eminently powerful solidity.  Almost as if their Y2K-era debut never happened, Telemetry is exponentially more decisive and bolder, not to mention devastatingly tuneful as-all-get-out on "Best Shot" and "Ghost to Haunt You."  Song for song Fire in the Radio harness the kind of lean, mean incisiveness to set transistors ablaze as their metaphorical namesake implies.  Informed by Alkaline Trio, Jimmy Eat World, and too a lesser extent a bevy of crunchy indie rawkers like the Doughboys and Big Drill Car, FitR are too crafty for the Warped Tour midway, yet wouldn't sound a hair out of place straddling the stage at your local gin mill.  To a handful of us hanger-oners, Telemetry is tantamount to a quantum-leap comeback, but to the world at large this disk serves as a galvanizing introduction.

Purchase Telemetry straight from Wednesday Records or Bandcamp or Amazon or iTunes. You can check out one Telemetry selection below, along with a demo from their Soundcloud page.

Best Shot
Motorboat (Motor Boys and Girls) demo

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Where has your sweet smile gone to now?

One album from 1982, the other following about a decade later.  The influence on the latter is even more amusing and effective than the groundbreaking former.  Hint: does the word "duh" mean anything to you?  Rip that treble knob clean off your receiver.


Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Comsat Angels - Unravelled (Dutch vers.) (1994, Crisis)

As some of you more astute W/O readers may have noticed, I've made several references to the Comsat Angels (aka C.S. Angels and Com-sat Angels) over the years on these pages but have failed to actually feature any of their music.  This is part and parcel due to their catalog having been kept in print in one incarnation or another, and in fact, their first five albums are set for expanded reissues (some for the umpteenth time I might add) this spring on Edsel.  Most CSA acolytes will extoll the virtues of their first three LPs the most: Waiting for a Miracle (1980), Sleep No More (1981), and Fiction (1982).  I'm no different, and quite frankly who can blame me?  That trifecta of melodic, textured and not infrequently melancholic albums possessed a slyly subterranean mystique that only post-punk rock from that era could seem to muster.  So much so I was afraid of listening/purchasing anything the Comsat's related after Fiction, based on the sheer number of negative reviews I read, which invariably faulted the band's embrace of a noticeably more commercial modus operendi. 

After 1986's Chasing Shadows, the band took the rest of the decade off, returning in 1992 with My Mind's Eye, and thankfully with much of their credibility restored.  The low-key Unravelled followed two years later.  Not a proper album in the least, Unravelled was a compilation of Mind's Eye-era radio sessions, marketed largely to Holland, where the Comsat's had a particularly strong foothold.   
Though not quite "unplugged," the versions of the songs presented are markedly more lucid and stripped down, with an unsurprising emphasis being placed on the recent Mind's Eye material.  While they're at it, the band stretch back to their halcyon days with early chestnuts like "After the Rain," "Our Secret," and their career defining "Eye of the Lens" all undergoing the refurbished treatment.  In case you wish to be further enlightened, mondo Comast's fan and Big Takeover editor Jack Rabid has the final say on this release over at Allmusic.  By the way, there are two different versions of Unravelled, this one being the Dutch edition.  I will hopefully have more C.S. Angels goodies to share in the not-too-distant future.

01. After the Rain
02. Beautiful Monsters
03. The Cutting Edge
04. Field of Tall Flowers
05. SS100X
06. Our Secret
07. Always Near
08. Eye of the Lens
09. Storm of Change
10. Audrey in Denim
11. Citadel

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Velveteens - Tall House ep (1986, Ransom)

This genial (and quite frankly juvenile) album jacket ironically belies a record that’s more in league with goth rock old school than preschool.  The co-ed Velveteens ain't on no gloom trip, but there's a palpable noir edge to Tall House, that once again stands in almost absurd contrast to the sleeve depicted to your right.  The title track kicking this five-songer off is an icy and mightily effective slab of austere post-punk - so much so the remainder of the disk doesn't quite stand a chance.  The proceedings get downright groovin' on "Tired of the Beat," which vaguely rejiggers '80s Bowie.  The darker and potentially appealing "Flies" is undercut by slowing down the vocals in relationship to the rest of the ensemble, giving the effect that frontman Lawrence Clayton is in 33 rpm mode while the band is doing their thing at 45.  Hmmm.   BTW, my copy of this record was hand colored in crayon.  Amazing.

01. Tall House
02. Love as a Rule
03. Tired of the Beat
04. Flies
05. Moonwork

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Bullets - Power Chords and Promises (1987, Slum City)

Cosmetically there isn't much to distinguish The Bullets from the brunt of your '80s run-of-the-mill, runamucks - teased hair, sunglasses and even a little spaghetti western garb.  Ditto for seemingly pedestrian and hackneyed song titles like "Walk On" and "Fact or Fiction," right?   Surprise.  This quartet from Glendale, CA boasted a sonically inviting post-punk aptitude to mesh with those MTV hairdos with most of the credit going to axe-wrangler Scott Grant, whose galloping arpeggios sting and stun in the best possible way.  The Bullets distill elements from an array of seemingly divergent sources: Big Country, Cocteau Twins, The Rhythm Corps and even Vomit Launch (though the latter of those is likely a sheer coincidence).   Microphone fiend Joe Rotger's high timbre is equally as notable as Grant's echoing fretboard runs, and collectively the Bullets are a profoundly enthusiastic lot, pounding out driving, frenetic missives like "That Certain Glow" and the aforementioned "Fact or Fiction."  Power Chords... rapid-fire salvos sound a tad hasty, and at worst sloppy, but therein lies the record's charm.  Truly a feast for the ears.

01. That Certain Glow
02. Just Another Crime
03. Independence Day Charm
04. Walk On
05. Today and Today
06. untitled
07. A Minute or Two
08. Fact or Fiction
09. Macy
10. Vale da Morte
11. Lost But Not Found      

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Four eps.

I might make this available for just 24 hours, so don't sleep.  Four eps from four disparate artists/genres including a relatively current favorite, and an obscure 1985 discovery I encountered for the first time last week.  Enjoy.


Saturday, May 2, 2015

Compulsion - Comforter + bonus disc (1994, One Little Indian)

Like the Pooh Sticks whom I spoke of a couple days ago, John Peel must have had a field day with these folks as well.  More "Brit" than "pop" Compulsion nonetheless possessed some poignant melodic structures amidst all their rigid musculature.  Therapy? by way of Sugar?  China Drum sailing their proverbial ship past Catherine Wheel in the night?  Their debut, Comforter (and for that matter subsequent releases) wasn't particularly exotic, yet despite potential grunge marketability in the States, this punky nugget came, went, and landed in a seemingly infinite number of bargain bins.  A real travesty considering the comparative depth of their tunes to pretty much anything occupying the UK charts during that era.  Compulsion's overarching conscience was more societal than political, delving into such arenas as consumer culture, depression, and other untidy themes sans any preachy or pious slant.  And big fat hooks propelling that ethos to boot - "Eating," "Why Do We Care?" and "Mall Monarchy," to name just three. The latter of these is a fictitious, postmortem ode to the man who designed the first shopping mall.  Ironically the real individual who was responsible for the wide-scale propagation of indoor shopping malls, Alfred Taubman died just last month.

In addition to the already generous fifteen track Comforter, certain European versions were paired with a bonus disk of eleven songs composed of two early Compuslion eps, a self-titled 1992 effort, and Casserole which followed a year later.  To my knowledge these were initially only available on vinyl.  Perhaps some Compulsion b-sides to follow.

01. Rapejacket
02. Delivery
03. Mall Monarchy
04. Ariande
05. Late Again
06. Air-raid for the Neighbors
07. Why Do we Care?
08. Yancy Dangerfield's delusions
09. Lovers
10. I Am John's Brain
11. Eating
12. Dick, Dale, Rick and Ricky
13. Domestique
14. Oh My Fool Life
15. Jean Could be Wrong

bonus cd
01. Final Time
02. Rapejacket
03. Easterman
04 Ninefourth
05. Purring Not Laughing
06. Accident Ahead
07. Yabba Yabba Yes Yes Yes
08. Crying
09. How Do I Breathe?
10. Here Comes Ambrose Beasley
11. Security

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Pooh Sticks - Formula One Generation (1990, Sympathy)

Per the liner notes, not to mention the telltale audio snippets comprising Formula One's intro track, The Pooh Sticks claim to have been inspired by The Records and Raspberries among others.  In terms of conventional power pop however, this Welsh co-ed troupe tended to play it fast and loose in that particular domain on their premiere long-player (one which followed an avalanche of singles and eps).  Lots of idiosyncratic tangents and such here, that I'm sure must have kept John Peel intrigued.  Formula... boasts a couple covers, including the Vaselines "Dying For It" which nearly bests the original.  Since I can't offer much more insight into this record, I'll let Trouser Press have their say:

Formula One Generation — the Poohs' first proper studio album — is self-indulgent ("Tonight" takes forever to gather itself into an actual song) and uneven, but the lack of sonic luster can't possibly spoil such wonderfully cool tunes as "Susan Sleepwalking," "Radio Ready," "Dare True Kiss Promise," "Soft Bed, Hard Battles." (The inclusion of yet another version of "Dying for It" doesn't hurt, either.) But there's an especially hasty quality to the performances, which leaves them mildly lacking that certain esprit de pooh.

01. Intro
02. Radio Ready
03. Teenage High
04. Time to Time
05. Susan Sleepwalking
06. All the Good That's Happening
07. Dare True Kiss Promise
08. Teenage High 2
09. Tonight
10. Soft Bed, Hard Battles
11. Dying for It

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Catching up with Jigsaw Records - Zebras, Lavender Faction, Gravy Train and more!

It took the release of the new Zebra's album for me to dig a little deeper into the recent catalog of the label responsible for it, Jigsaw Records.  A label I might add that's not solely tethered to the present, but also has an eye on the past, and a decidedly obscuro one at that.  Today we're going to examine not only said Zebra's record but three of their most intriguing reissues of late.

With a sonic penchant that incorporates the pastoral clarity of bygone country-mates The Go Betweens, while occasionally grazing the dream-pop meniscus of Lush, Brisbane’s Zebras are the should-be “it” band that the world is virtually ignorant to, outside of Australia anyway.  Making it seem all too easy and effortless, the Zebras impeccable concoction of chiming, strummy chords frequently dovetail with co-ed vocals, courtesy of Jeremy Cole and  Edwina Ewins.   Songs as breezy and twinkling as the sublime “Try,” “Grace,” and “Berries” yield nary an imperfect maneuver…so much so that they arouse suspicion.  I need not bestow any more virtue onto the Zebras, as this record is capable of meeting that end, though I’ll cut the line by recommending Siesta to those with a preference for Beach House and the Pains of Being Pure at Heart.  

The reputations of certain bedroom indie labels are so arcane and under-the-radar it takes yet another label to shine a spotlight on their output.   The Newcastle, UK based Woosh imprint enjoyed a lifespan of merely two years (specifically 1988-89) and in that humble expanse of time the bulk of their releases amounted to 7" flexi disks bundled in fanzines.  Jigsaw Records has digitally compiled these recordings into Ten Little Records: The Woosh Collection.  None of the eleven featured acts went onto any commercial prominence, though to their credit, The Pooh Sticks lived out a portion of their tenure on a major label.   In terms of sheer domination, The Nivens chart no less than seven times here, carrying on in brisk, chiming fashion clinging tightly to the C86 aesthetic, best exemplified by "Yesterday."  Other pleasant surprises include the Holidaymakers, and The Sunflowers who dole out a steaming garage punk nugget in the form of "Bubble Bus."  The Pooh Stick's "Hard on Love" is a vigorous and visceral as all get out I might add.  Finally, Ten Little Records ends on an especially high note with an exclusive form Illinois' Choo Choo Trains (aka Paul Chastain and Ric Menck who would later transfer their train fare for Velvet Crush).  It sure sounds like Matthew Sweet is on the mic for the Choo's contribution, "Many Happy Returns."  Just sayin.  Many tracks here were sourced from vinyl as a last resort, but as for my primary complaint, "dude, where's my liner notes?"

Next on the docket, England's Gravy Train who ladled out three singles in the early '90s.  Hmmm, don't recall these guys being written up in NME or Melody Maker, but then again I missed quite a few issues of both.  At any rate, Thank You For Nothing! is just the thing for that post-C86 hangover, compiling all of those 7" sides, compilation appearances, and some miscellaneous and previous unreleased smatterings.  Randomly hopscotching from good to decent to just kinda "there," Gravy Train, at their most inspired, incorporate some of the finer facets of the Mighty Lemon Drops and The June Brides, albeit within a demonstrably more homegrown context.  There's a staggering 28 songs here, and with that in mind I'd recommend Thank You... to be absorbed in considerably smaller doses.   

And finally, The Lavender Faction, another across the pond export I've been meaning to study for a number years, even having gone so far as to downloading some low-bitrate MP3s eons back that I barely listened to.  As was the case with the aforementioned Gravy Train disk, Tear Down the Walls is a discography compiler of the Faction's predominantly vinyl catalog distilled to a handy digital release.  Format specifications aside, if you're hankering for a blissed-out merger of dream pop and (slightly) chilly post-punk you'll find a good many of this early '90s quartet's offerings to be downright mesmerizing.  "Harbour Me," "Ride," "Crawl Down," and the title track among other pearls, strike a near-perfect melange of manicured feedback, splashes of tremolo, and succulent melody.  Hinting at the likes of Swevedriver, Bailter Space and beyond, the Lavender Faction had some immense moments to bestow in a catalog that was achingly sparse. 

All four of these titles are available direct from Jigsaw.  Digitally, Bandcamp has you covered, as does Amazon and iTunes.  Below is a link to a five song sampler from the records I've just outlined.  Enjoy. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Running far away out of your eyes...

From 1985.  I can't believe it's not butter The Cure.


Saturday, April 25, 2015

Re-uploads for April.

Here's the best I could do.  Thanks for your requests.

Visitors - No Sign of Intelligent Life
Luxurious Bags - Frayed Knots
Sheila Divine - s/t ep
Jellyfishbabies - The Unkind Truth About Rome
The Furys - Indoor/Outdoor ep
The Fugue - Waiting for Something
Rooney - three eps
Dramarama - The Days of Wayne and Roses
Nightman - No Escape
Brave New World - The Law of Series ep
Bitter Pleasures - Eat the Monument ep
Sea Hags - demo
Expando Brain - Mother of God its...
Young Pioneers - tape
A Picture Made - 7"
The Chant - Two Car Mirage & Three Sheets to the Wind
Field Trip - Beautiful
Clay Idols - Falling Down Backwards
Sammy - Chili Lite 7"
Eric Menck and Paul Chastain - Firetrucks and Periwinkles
Fig Dish - Unleash the Cracken
Sweet Jesus - discography
Caretaker Race - Hangover Square
Minerva Strain - Blue Tarantella
Contras - Ciphers in the Snow
Fingers - Video Games ep
V/A - Imaginary Records comp
Tina, Age 13 - The Alcoholic Father of My Inner Child
Windbreakers - At Home With...
Howard and Tim's Paid Vacation - I Never Met a Girl
Beat Temptation - Concerned About Rock Music?
Nocturnal Projections - Nerve Ends in Power Lines
Lucy Brown - s/t 1988
Scared of Chaka/Flake Music - split 7"
New Musik - Straight Lines ep
Propaganda - Calling on Moscow ep
Yo - Charm World
Mock Turtles - 87-90
Juliana Hatfield & Evan Dando - The Mercury Lounge, NYC 9/30/10
Luxury - EP #1
The Teardrop Explodes - live 3/7/81, Mount Vernon, NY
Dharma Bums - Givin' In 7"
Dangtrippers - Incantation 7"

Friday, April 24, 2015

Swervedriver - I Wasn't Born To Lose You (2015, Cobraside) - a brief review

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 attributes tamped down, the band's sinewy and complex arrangements were 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.