Ever since I heard rumours of a collaboration between Swerverdriver
/ Toshack Highway singer and guitarist Adam Franklin
and Sam Fogarino, drummer from Interpol, I was all agog
to hear the results. These are two of my favourite bands, especially
Swervedriver, whose roaring, shoegaze-meets-Stooges wall of
sound hasn't often been bettered (see Embo's live review on these
pages at http://www.hybridmagazine.com/music/0508/swervedriver.shtml
for a taste of how great they still are). I wasn't sure how the Swervies'
revved-up guitars would combine with Interpol's throbbing, chillier,
Joy Division urgency, but on the EP released earlier this year
and now a full LP, the two main men combine the best parts of their
other bands to produce something pretty compelling.
"Cold War Kids", the lead track on the EP, has a cool,
strolling beat with warm keyboards and chorused guitars, quite a good
mix between Swervies and Interpol. Adam sings in the dry, laid back
style of the quieter Ejector Seat Reservation tunes. The other
songs on the EP are also mostly downbeat, quiet affairs; the doleful
"Yesterday's Flowers", with echoing piano, a descending
melody and lines such as "The radio plays a song to no one, the
radio broken gathers dust", sets an autumnal tone even before
a sad flute comes in.
"The Way Love Used To Be" features washes of guitar and
keyboards and a nice, slowed down coda with acoustic guitar, while
"DontGoToDreamState" has an echoing, windswept, vaguely
Western feel. The EP caps off with the stately, instrumental remix
"Cold War Kids (Get Claudius)".
After all that I gotta admit I was in the mood for a bit more velocity
and noise, and I got it with the A.M. LP. With the band now
fully staffed, including Jimmy LaValle (Album Leaf)
on keyboards, Josh Stoddard on bass and Blasco on guitar,
Magnetic Morning expands and varies the sound while still hewing
to the reflective feel of the EP. Many of the songs would have fit
seamlessly onto the EP, but the standouts take a left turn or two.
"Motorway", which starts off as an uncanny Kraftwerk
clone then explodes into MBV-esque maelstrom as the guitarists
hit the effects pedals in the choruses and bows out with a pounding,
guitar-laden coda, is a track I just can't stop playing. "No
Direction" is also great, an unabashed, clanging guitar pop tune
that bursts out from the surrounding melancholy just like "Twisterella"
did on the late, great Ride masterpiece Going Blank Again.
The LP's currently available only on iTunes and other digital services,
with a CD/LP release date of 1/29/09. I'm still not too sure about
this strategy, which seemed to get really fashionable in 2008, but
I guess it would work for me if some extra, non-downloadable tracks
are added. Still, whether you want instant gratification or are
prepared to wait for something you can hold in your hand, Magnetic
Morning's music is well worth picking up.
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