Son of Mustang Ford
Feel So Real
Lead Me Where You Dare...
When Raise came out in September 1991, no one knew quite where to place it. On the one hand, it formed a trio of albums on Creation Records—including Slowdive’s Just for a Day and My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless—that helped define what we mean when we say “shoegaze.” (The label also put out Teenage Fanclub’s Bandwagonesque and Primal Scream’s Screamadelica in the same three-month stretch; it was a good year at Creation Records.)
On the other, its rhythmic jags and sharp guitars have more to do with discordant American bands like Sonic Youth than the purple washes of shoegaze. And whereas My Bloody Valentine’s music charted the liminal spaces between conscious thought and dreams, Swervedriver wrote songs about taking off in muscle cars in search of the open road—while shoegaze’s romances were internal, Swervedriver’s felt like they were out in the world. It’s telling, then, that their first shows in the US after Raise’s release weren’t with art bands, but Soundgarden: Swervedriver sought to rock.
The album’s best songs (“Sci-Flyer,” “Son of Mustang Ford,” “Rave Down”) bridge the grittiness of punk with the ethereality of art-rock—a move pulled, in a different fashion, by Hüsker Dü nearly a decade before. And although shoegaze’s legacy played out most interestingly in experimental electronic music like Fennesz’s and the avant-garde pop of artists like FKA Twigs, you can hear Swervedriver’s influence throughout the early-’90s alt-rock boom and into the music of bands like Foo Fighters: It’s arena rock for listeners who came of age in the underground.