Monday, May 22, 2006

never lose that feeling, never learn

So. How have you all been?

Sorry again for disappearing like that. You know, I've shown these tendencies before, it's true, and not just in the sense of meeting imaginary deadlines I set for myself to drop some music out there in the world (or, at least, drop some music by someone else into the world). Suffice to say work intervened, as is its custom, so to fight through the doldrums I'm going to fire up something in my wheelhouse, and it's not something necessarily spirited like that Tool track or something upbeat like that Mogwai track. No, we're internalizing this one.

"Duress," by Swervedriver

Ah, Swervedriver. Usually brought up in conversation as the Great Underappreciated Hope as they are known among the music cogniscenti (or people who use filthy phrases like 'music cogniscenti'), often paired with some claptrap about perfect they were for the road, or driving really fast, which isn't all that far fetched since most guitar rock tends to go well with "the road," be it Swervedriver, Black Sabbath or Huey Lewis (if that's how you roll). But the difference is Swervedriver (in addition to a kick-ass name) also sang about road topics like driving cars fast, or driving cars fast after taking drugs, or getting on a train and taking drugs and talking with a girl. You get the idea.

But regardless, these guys wrote some stellar tunes. Lumped in with the rest of Britain's shoegazers, their sound was too gruff to be paired with the likes of My Bloody Valentine or Ride, too swirling and psychedelic to get swept up in the grunge craze. Thus, they amazed me and about 0.00167% of the record buying public in their day, and put the rest dead asleep along the spines of their Jesus Jones records.

Back then I was in college, despite the opinions of just about everyone I knew at the time, I could not stop listening to Swervedriver's "Mezcal Head." (it's out of print, naturally--but a copy can probably be had cheap in the average used bin.) The best track by far was this one, eight minutes and three seconds of snarling, swirling menace that unspools slowly and deliberately, like a confession. The song builds in its own time, lazily allowing this glassy, five-note guitar line to pace around the room for almost three and and half minutes before the vocals kick in. Once they do Adam Franklin can barely be heard above the churning racket, mumbling some nonsense about ecstacy, murder and sleep as those guitars just gather more intensity from eachother, swarming him under. It's a little hypnotic, a little depressing, and a little amazing how inevitably you just have to give in, close your eyes and let this song take you under too.

That's where I've been.


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