Swervedriver

Raise, and Mezcal Head (Hi-Speed Soul / Second Motion)

Phases and Stages

Swervedriver

Raise (Hi-Speed Soul/Second Motion)

Swervedriver

Mezcal Head (Hi-Speed Soul/Second Motion)

Swervedriver's reunion tour last year hinted at a new album, but this re-release of the UK quartet's 1991 debut, Raise, and 1993 follow-up Mezcal Head makes a better placeholder. The repackaged/remastered Raise appends four bonus cuts from whose sessions Japanese single "Andalucia" and "Kill the Superheroes," a B-side from "Son of Mustang Ford," are highlights. Revisiting Swerve's formative years reveals close parallels to Dinosaur Jr., only more spaced-out. In new liner notes, guitarist/singer Adam Franklin compares 1980s Oxford with Detroit, where their heroes the Stooges were from. The Motor City four explain Swervedriver's big-blast guitar sound and perhaps why Raise, despite being on rave indie label Creation, never seemed a product of early-1990s Brit-gaze. The sophomore album, originally on A&M, finds anthemic rave-ups ("Duel," "Last Train to Satansville") veering even further from the gauze, opener "For Seeking Heat" and "Girl on a Motorbike" perfecting the band's muscled, two-guitar groove. Mezcal Head's four extras, including a truncated "Never Lose That Feeling" and "forgotten classic" "Planes Over the Skyline," round out the goodies. More bonus tracks would have been nice, because two decades later, Swervedriver's wah-wah still feels relevant.

(Raise) ***

(Mezcal Head) ***.5

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