They’re nobody’s buzz bands anymore. But since 1993, MAGNET has discovered and documented more great music than memory will allow. The groups may have broken up or the albums may be out of print, but this time, history is written by the losers. Here are some of the finest albums that time forgot but we remembered in issue #75, plus all-new additions to our list of Lost Classics.
Mezcal Head // A&M, 1993
Too heavy and aggressive to fit in with its native army of blissed-out shoegazers but too polished and spacey to blend with American modern rock, Oxford, England’s Swervedriver never rose above cult status. Despite most of its albums now being out of print in the U.S., Swervedriver’s influence can be heard in any number of current post-post-shoegaze outfits that use their effects pedals to conjure the hard-edged menace of the Stooges rather than the orchestral comfort of My Bloody Valentine. After losing two members following a 1992 tour, singer/guitarist Adam Franklin could barely assemble a complete Swervedriver lineup in time for the Mezcal Head sessions. This sophomore album was a cohesive collection of churning, widescreen epics obsessed with mystery, murder and motor-driven chaos. Though “Duel” was the closest thing Swervedriver had to a hit in the States, “Last Train To Satansville” was nearer to the album’s heart, a violent noir odyssey resting somewhere between Raymond Chandler and Hunter S. Thompson. Dark and often beautifully dissonant, Swervedriver’s mix of melodic space pop and mind-scrambling noise held appeal for two distinct audiences but seldom found either.
Catching Up: Beset by a flurry of label troubles with 1995 follow-up Ejector Seat Reservation (unreleased in the U.S.), Swervedriver finally called it a day following 1998’s disappointing 99th Dream. Franklin has issued a handful of records under the name Toshack Highway, collaborated with Interpol’s Sam Fogarino as Magnetic Morning and will release his second solo album, Spent Bullets, in March. Drummer Jez Hindmarsh recently published Rider, a memoir of life on the road, and he now manages and produces/records bands. Swervedriver reformed in 2008 for a tour, and Mezcal Head and 1991’s Raise were reissued earlier this year. Download live compilations of all four Swervedriver albums here.