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Adam Franklin
Bolts Of Melody
Hi-Speed Soul Records
www.toshackhighway.com


Adam Franklin will forever live in the annals of shoegaze history due to his history fronting the seminal noiserock/'gazers Swervedriver. Since Swervedriver parted ways in the mid 90's after releasing four amazing records Franklin has gone on to release a few splendid recordings under the moniker Toshak Highway, as well as popping up live once in a while to play an acoustic show or a small gig backed by like-minded individuals. With the release of Bolts Of Melody, Adam Franklin comes into his own, re-living some of the glory of Swervedriver, but moving beyond into a more mature musical place.

"Seize The Day" is immediately recognizable as Franklin's work, with it's slightly less distorted guitars, but instantly at-home vibe carried over from the blitzkrieg of Raise. The songs on Bolts Of Melody are overall more mellow and less guitar-noisy than Swervedriver's catalog, but the basics are all undeniably Franklin. The slowdown on "Sundown" is beautiful, and the swirling backing guitars are like a wispy 60's psychedelic summer day. The feel of the track is airy and beautiful, perfect music for a crisp autumn's twilight, only belied by the darkness of the lyrics. "Song Of Solomon" shows Franklin continuing the experimentation of Toshak Highway on a lightly floating track with subtle hints of Donovan, all liquid guitars and odd effects. "Birdsong (Moonshiner Version)" is an acoustic number that illustrates the simple beauty of Ad's writing without the electric flourishes, breaking things down to their barest and most intimate; the track is amazing, and probably stands as the most notable song on the record. The electric version later on the record is steeped in Rolling Stones' style blues guitar and driving rhythm, making for an enjoyable, but less personal, song. The myriad sides of Franklin's psychedelic abilities shine through on the incredibly sonic "Syd's Eyes", a short but incredibly rich song that is surely inspired by the former Pink Floyd's Syd Barrett… in spirit if not in the literal. The continuing story of the 99th Dream space saga appears on "Walking In Heaven's Foothills", a track that is wonderfully produced, with meandering astronaut speak over some Waters' era Floyd-ian spacey guitar work.

While the songs on Bolts Of Melody are not nearly as high octane as "Son Of Mustang Ford" or "Rave Down", the album strikes a nice balance between the sonic energy of Swervedriver and the lower near-ambience of Toshak Highway. This is the album the faithful have known would be coming someday from Adam Franklin, and I'm happy to report the time has come… And with the word of a Swervedriver reunion tour coming later this year it's a perfect time to reacquaint yourself with the work of the band and the new solo work of Ad.

Rave down, motherfuckers… Rave down.

-Embo Blake


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