Swervedriver with Gateway Drugs

Monday • Woodward Theater

Mar 11, 2015 at 10:04 am
click to enlarge Swervedriver

From the opening salvo of “Autodidact” on I Wasn’t Born to Lose You, Swervedriver’s first album of new material in 17 years, the listener is transported back to the mid-’90s, an almost mythical point in recent musical history, a time when sheets of guitar squall combined with an almost Power Pop sense of melodic resonance to create a compelling third entity that swelled with anthemic energy and bristled with a melancholic undercurrent.

In that milieu, Swervedriver was an apex predator, one of the absolute masters of the Shoegaze form, with Adam Franklin wielding his guitar like Zeus pitching lightning bolts from the summit of Mt. Olympus. Critics may dismiss I Wasn’t Born to Lose You for not quivering on the same tremulous edge as the U.K. band’s powerful ’90s output (1991’s harrowing Raise, 1993’s scorching Mezcal Head, 1995’s heavy Ejector Seat Reservation and 1997’s brilliant swan song 99th Dream) but that would be a ridiculous assertion. Franklin’s guitar and creative impulses have not been preserved in amber or frozen in suspended animation for the past two decades; after all, Franklin has overseen the re-mastering and reissue of the band’s catalog and the 2005 retrospective Juggernaut Rides ’89-’98, not to mention creating new music with Magnetic Morning and Adam Frankin & Bolts of Melody.

The new Swervedriver album reflects the growth and maturity that naturally comes with age and experience, while remaining astonishingly true to Franklin’s original sonic vision that influenced a generation of like-minded guitar wizards. In fact, I Wasn’t Born to Lose You stands as an impressively direct follow-up to 99th Dream, exhibiting both progression from and connection to its predecessor.

Swervedriver’s welcome return to the studio didn’t appear out of thin air; Franklin reassembled the band’s last lineup seven years ago (Franklin, original guitarist Jimmy Hartridge, bassist Steve George and drummer Jeremy Hindmarsh, since supplanted by Mikey Jones for subsequent tours and ultimately the new album) for a series of highly anticipated and extremely successful live dates that must have convinced him that a more permanent reunion was in the cards. And what a hand he and the 21st century Swervedriver have dealt. Meet the new boss, better than the old boss.

SWERVEDRIVER plays at Woodward Theater Monday, March 16. Find tickets/more info here .