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Magnetic Morning
Magnetic Morning EP and A.M.
DH Records
www.magneticmorning.com


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.

-Gareth Bowles

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