Swervedriver got back together five years ago for touring purposes but like many bands that reform they toured on the strength of their heyday not releasing anything new for the occasion. Now five years on from their reunion they have just released their first new song in 15 years. The obvious question about these sorts of things is always should they have bothered?
Yes. A first glance at the cover and you notice that it slightly reminds you of the covers of their early EP’s like Son Of Mustang Ford and Sandblasted. So they obviously haven’t lost their knack for choosing an eye-catching cover. The song Deep Wound seems to pick up where one of their best singles Last Day On Earth left off. The lazy scrawl and scream of the signature Swervedriver guitars are certainly there and Adam Franklin’s singing sounds like he hasn’t aged a day since Ejector Seat Reservation came out back in 1995.
Dub Wound the second track on the virtual single is a spacier and yes a dub version of Deep Wound. Just as good as the guitar version I think, but you don’t have to decide because they come together.
This apparently isn’t akin to the Pixies one off Bam Thwok, Swervedriver say, according to their facebook page, that they plan to release an album sometime in 2014. Welcome back again guys.
Anika played the Crocodile Sunday night. She looked and sounded like Nico fronting Metal Box era Public Image Limited. Actually she was fronting BEAK>,Geoff Barrow of Portishead‘s other band. His body double was behind the drums somehow making them sound as if they were being recorded by Martin Hannett.
Anika has the stage presence of an icicle, but it works. The songs have a steely isolating feel to them and her icy demeanor perfectly compliments them. When listening to desolate, dark dub music, I don’t want jokes and “Hello Seattle” in between songs. I want to feel on edge and slightly uncomfortable and that is what I felt as she awkwardly looked at the floor and moved her mic stand from one side of the stage to the other between songs, not speaking a word.
The set was heavy on the covers, but with a band that has such a strong aesthetic, they could cover just about anything and make it interesting and their own. The set included covers of Twinkle‘s Terry, Dylan‘s Masters of War, the Kinks‘ I Go To Sleep, and Yoko Ono‘s Yang Yang all of which appeared on the Stones Throw album. There were new ones too. The Crystals‘ He Hit Me and the Chromatics‘ In the City were both highlights. The set ended with a version of the Talking Heads‘ Once In a Lifetime which seemed so new to them that Anika pulled out a little black book for the lyrics. The setlist had one more song on it that they didn’t play, another cover, He Needs Me from the Popeye soundtrack. I’m sure it would have been sublimely weird, but Anika turned and left the stage after Once In a Lifetime with nary a goodbye.
One record that would have made my list for last year had I heard it prior to the last week of December is Anika‘s self-titled debut on Stones Throw. Bill over at Sound Bites was more astute than I and smartly included it on his list which is how I found out about it. Anika was a political journalist who somehow met former Portishead maestro Geoff Barrow in Berlin and bonded over dub, punk and girl groups. That sounds like a match made in heaven if you ask me. Barrow was actually looking for a singer for his new band Beak>, somehow over recording the record live, raw and strictly no over dubs in a mere twelve days it no longer was a Beak record but an Anika one.
Anika sounds more than a little like Nico. She sings a little flat and off key and with little emotion. On paper this shouldn’t work, but oh how it does. Barrow and Beak create a sparse dub soundtrack and while the majority of the nine songs on the record are covers they sound so different from the originals that you easily forget about them being covers. The record starts out with a cover of Twinkle‘s Terry (You may remember Twinkle’s Golden Lights as covered by the Smiths). Terry has similarities to the Shangri-Las‘ Leader of the Pack, and this rendition with its Speak and Spell synths and grand piano makes it sound so desolate, bleak and weird. It’s delivered as if by the Grim Reaper herself, and you know Terry is doomed. From there the bombs drop and this dub record sounds like a war zone. The air raid sirens sound and Yoko Ono‘s Yang Yang hits and soon thereafter a reinvention of Dylan‘s Masters of War and the Kinks‘ I Go To Sleep which takes on an Eno-esque quality. There are two originals Officer Officer and No One’s There both with big Jah Wobble bass lines that hold their own. This is one stark record and some amazing slight of hand by all involved making this record sound as cohesive as it does from it’s seemingly incompatible pieces to create an uncomfortable warmth that makes it impossible to put down.