Once upon a time, Swervedriver's Adam Franklin was textbook: dreadlocks in his face, loose, earthy T-shirt, maybe some tattered Cobain-style wrap, his deep drawl barely peeking out betwixt the jigsaw rhythm section and the whooshing oscillations of the stompboxes below, the very pieces that gave the genre its somewhat derogatory name: shoegaze. Over time, that drawl took different shapes and forms, embedding itself in the hearts and minds of a small but rabid core of Swervies along for the band's bumpy but exhilarating '90s ride (newbies, try 2005 comp Juggernaut Rides). Ironically, this very British troupe's songs were imbued with the visceral American romanticism of the road, and the full-throttle propulsion that accompanies it. After SD's 1998 demise, the deprivation of Franklin's distortion, rhythm and sometimes even his pedals has been less reinvention than revelation, emphasizing the rich, distinctive voice and genius songcraft that were always there. Following a successful My Bloody Valentine-goes-ambient 2000 detour under his Toshack Highway alias, Franklin has focused on a Nick Drake-like approach, deeply affecting rural folk with flourishes of psychedelic sound painting; new full-length Bolts of Melody (his first as simply Adam Franklin) features some of both. Live, Franklin enjoys casting Swervedriver classics in entirely new contexts.
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