It’s a mystery why Swervedriver never made it big. The bands music was distorted enough to appeal to grunge fans and there were enough dreamy pop hooks to branch out to fans of the shoegazer genre. Not to mention that Swervedrivers sound is both aggressive and standard enough to appeal to hardcore and alt/rock listeners. They vaguely resemble the Smashing Pumpkins, just subtract Billy Corgans whiny voice. Hell, Swervedriver even opened for the band back in the early 90's. Mezcal Head
was released in 1993 right when shoegaze was starting to die out and just when the grunge scene was in full force. There are many underrated albums that were released in the early nineties and Mezcal Head
happens to be one of them.
Throughout the album there are hard hitting guitar riffs, distorted fuzz, and some occasional pop hooks. A good chunk of these songs are abrasive and raw, the main focus is obviously on the rugged guitar playing. MM Abduction
shows off some swirling guitar whirls while the albums opener For Seeking Heat
is a raging, compelling tune propelled by frantic drumming and a fuzzy guitar line. Blowin’ Cool
is a hypnotic and mildly funky tune, Swervedriver almost reach psychadelica with this composition. It’s obvious that most songs on Mezcal Head
sound similar but each track is unique and recognizable.
The second song, Duel
is Swervedrivers biggest single and it was actually a minor hit in Britain and in the United States. It’s obviously the bands catchiest song since the chorus is catchy and rockin’ while the verses are more chilled out and mellow. This is definitely the most “shogaze” influenced track off of Mezcal Head
. A Change Is Gonna Come
are the two relaxed tunes off the album. The latter clocks in at eight minutes and features some vibrant storytelling along with a spicy yet smooth guitar solo. Both songs keep a very raw and intense feel yet the guitar playing is very slow and steady. It’s an interesting mix and an angular break from the more erratic and hard rockin’ songs featured on Mezcal Head
The lead vocalist Adam Franklin has a pretty standard voice. It’s kind of lazy and relaxed while being compelling and intense. You can easily decipher his lyrics during the verses but once the hard hitting choruses come into play his voice is muffled behind the noisy guitar playing. While his vocal performance doesn’t really stand out it fits in well with the sloppiness of Mezcal Head
. The production is much cleaner then the groups debut and it isnt’ exactly bad it just focuses on the guitar and drum playing rather then Franklins voice.
doesn’t have a ton of range but just enough to keep things from getting overly repetitive and bland. The drum work is rough-edged and raw, it doesn’t play a huge role yet it keeps the music exhilarating and adrenaline pumping. If there is a downside to the album it’s that the song lengths can get quite overbearing. Mezcal Head
consists of eleven tracks and the album runs for just about an hour. There are plenty of fuzzy jam sessions but at certain points Swervedriver just don’t know when to stop.
After listening to Mezcal Head
for about a year or so I’d say that it ranks up their with albums such as Loveless
, Siamese Dream
, and Nowhere
. Swervedriver have a knack for combing genres such as grunge and shoegaze together to form a rough, compelling, and raw sound. Mezcal Head
is an essential album that will satisfy any shoegaze or grunge fan, the only unfortunate thing is how a few songs tend to drag thus lowering the albums status and replay value.