Almost fourteen years after the mighty guitar band Swervedriver was put ‘up on the blocks’, here they were again in 2012; plying their stomp-box enabled brand of space travel rock and roll, debuting a new song, digging deep into their catalogue for some live rarities, and actually even appearing on national television.
It seems that more of the world is finally finding out about, and acknowledging, this great undiscovered treasure of the 1990’s a full two decades after their Creation Records debut. As formulaic rock and machine-generated beats continue their dominance of the airwaves, and ‘professional’ entertainment and contest shows (along with rock schools and “Glee”) reduce the performing arts to confident calesthenics and TV-ready sanitized deliveries, it’s nice to be reminded how potent a force untrammeled guitar rock is for your inner under-nourished soul.
Swervedriver songs can be like mini-epic movies. One minute you’re running down the pavement, the next you’re relaxing underwater, then blazing tires across the desert at 100 mph towards the cliffs, then you’re a million miles deep in outer space. Each song is a round trip ticket. And like any band or song you enjoy immensely, some songs you have to hit replay over and over. Luckily when listening to Swervedriver, there’s always some underlying sonic debris to hone in on and catch something new with repeated listens.
Swervedriver just wrapped up a mini 10-gig US tour, their second ‘reunion’ jaunt across the states. Lots of live videos are popping up of the tour should you be curious as to how they sound today. Their fearless use and enjoyment of single effect stompboxes (I counted 20+ onstage at the DC show), not as gimmicks or to mask deficiencies, but as shaman’s tools to sonically manifest the elusive and formless is one of the great things I’ve always liked about them.
Their music was/is punchy, dreamy, melodic, kick-ass, melancholic and uplifting; sometimes in the space of a single song. If you’ve never heard of the band, check out their sophomore effort Mezcal Head (recently re-issued with bonus tracks) or the 2005 comp Juggernaut Rides. No artificial sweeteners or poseur preservatives. Just earnest stomp-box-fueled guitar adventures.
In an age/industry of artifice and pandering, where we seem to have confusedly equated effort with feeling and pizzaz with what is special, Swervedriver is still the proverbial kick in the rear or shot in the arm. Take them for a spin. And never lose that feeling…