Noise Annoys: Swervedriver's Future Ruins, Green River deluxe reissues and Stendhal submissions
Swerverdriver are revving up for a new release, Sub Pop is preparing to drop a pair of restored grunge artefacts and the Stendhal Festival wants to hear from bands who fancy joining this summer's bill
WELCOME to the first Noise Annoys of 2019 – and what better way to kick off the new year than with words on the imminent new release from an old favourite, Swervedriver, whose timely titled Future Ruins LP is due out at the end of this month.
The Oxford-reared shoegaze rockers blew pretty much everyone away with the quality of their 2015 comeback album I Wasn't Born To Lose You, which sounded like it could have been released just a couple of years after their underrated 1998 swansong, 99th Dream, as opposed to almost two full decades.
Having been funded via Pledge Music, Future Ruins has been picked up for release by esteemed Glasgow independent label Rock Action Records, home of your Mogwai, Part Chimp and Twilight Sad.
While the vinyl and CD versions of the album won't be out until January 24, Swervedriver released the full digital download edition to all Pledgers on Christmas morning as a special festive treat.
Thus, Noise Annoys has been busy getting to grips with the new LP over the past few days – and I'm happy to report that Future Ruins is another superbly atmospheric effort from the reactivated Swervies, who celebrate their 30th anniversary this year.
The guitar interplay between founding members Adam Franklin and Jimmy Hartridge remains as sublime as ever, while the current rhythm section of ex-Supergrasser Micky Quinn and Mikey Jones (who played with Adam in his Bolts of Melody project) provide a suitably powerful yet refined powerplant for the group.
After several plays, I keep coming back to the soft-focus melancholia of the title track, a haunting six minute slow-burn which somehow makes a perfect soundtrack for the traditionally bleary-eyed post-New Year period – particularly this New Year, what with Adam's opening lines being "we are ruled by fools / these are future ruins".
It's preceded by the chiming churn of album opener Mary Winter and The Lonely Crowd Fades In The Air's woozy, thumping rush, both delivering an instant dose of the band's signature 'space travel rock 'n' roll' via swoonsome rushes of arpeggiated guitar jousting, punching/rolling drums and yet more croonsomely evocative vocalising from Adam about "floating out here so long" and "stumbling into the end of days".
The slurry, narcotic guitar pop of Drone Lover deploys remote warfare as a clever metaphor for romantic disaster, in the wake of quiet/loud chameleon Theascending, a pretty John Barry-informed ballad repeatedly souped-up with vintage fuzz until it (d)evolves into a psyche guitar wig-out.
Side two (for vinyl listeners) literally kicks on with the scuzzy stomp of Spiked Flower before coasting through spoken word mood piece Everybody's Going Somewhere & No-one's Going Anywhere and on to the contemplative swirl of Golden Remedy, which gradually builds up a nice head of jammy, trippy, Swervie steam.
The volume needs cranked for the urgent, groovy and at times titanically noisy Good Times Are So Hard To Follow, another stand-out moment which smacks you round the ears repeatedly with its big dumb main riff and Mikey's machine gun drumming.
You'd best leave your knob set firmly at 11 for the climactic comedown of Radio-Silent as well, to better absorb its mesmerising slab of slow-building neo-psychedelic blues.
If reading such enthusiastic dribblings leaves you desperately needing the new Swervedriver LP, the best thing to do is proceed directly to Pledgemusic.com/projects/swervedriver, where you will find a variety of ways to own Future Ruins – all of which come with an 'access pass' that should allow you to download the album instantly.
Sadly, there's no word of any Irish Swervedriver shows (yet again), but if that should change you can expect to read about it right here.
From a veteran band making new music, we now move on to a long defunct act whose old music has just been given a 21st century make-over/under: proto-grungers Green River – the band which spawned Mudhoney and Pearl Jam, lest we forget – are getting the deluxe reissue treatment courtesy of Sub Pop this month, including the long-awaited 'remixed and remastered by Jack Endino' version of their 1988 debut mini-LP, Rehab Doll.
The band started out peddling down-tuned death trip punk rock as documented on 1985's debut Homestead EP Come on Down and subsequent Sub Pop EP Dry As A Bone from 1986, which found Green River basically inventing the stereotypical 'grunge sound'.
Dry As A Bone now sounds better than ever in its freshly remastered form and also features a slew of decent 'previously unavailable by official channels' tunes, which legendary producer Endino has seemingly managed to rescue from Betamax video tape (ah, the 80s).
By the time they came to record Rehab Doll, Green River were audibly straining to straddle an awkward chasm between the kind irony-free 'raunchy' LA gutter rock that major labels were then throwing money at and their more garage/punk rock/underground leanings
In the former camp were future Pearl Jammers Jeff Ament (bass) and Stone Gossard (guitar), who next went on to form yet another seminal Seattle rock combo, Mother Love Bone, with Green River's other axeman, Bruce Fairweather.
Singer and punk rock diehard Mark Arm would get to scratch his more determinedly left-field itches with Mudhoney, formed the following year with like-minded original Green River guitarist Steve Turner, who'd jumped ship after Come on Down.
Indeed, Green River actually split before Rehab Doll was even completed: no doubt the dubious decision to employ '1980s Big Rock' production touches like a booming gated snare drum sound didn't exactly help to quell intra-band disagreement.
Thankfully, the newly 'Endinoed' version of the mini-LP bins such horribly dated aesthetic errors to make the record a more palatable listen, as well as including superior versions of almost every song, captured on eight-track at Reciprocal Recordings back in the day.
Grunge historians can/should grab 'em up both these lovingly presented releases via their favourite indie record shoppe or direct from SubPop.com from January 25.
Finally, if you're in a band and fancy playing at one of Northern Ireland's top independent music festivals, then you're in luck – the Stendhal Festival in Limavady is now inviting submissions from acts/artists who wish to be considered for 2019's event from August 15 to 17.
"Every year we get hundreds and hundreds of submissions," says festival director Ross Parkhill.
"We get to discover hundreds of new bands, artists and performers as we look to provide a platform for the best new acts. This process has previously brought Ryan McMullan, Soak, The Woodburning Savages, Roe, No Oil Paintings and Joshua Burnside to our attention, so it’s always exciting to see what comes through.
"We have already had a lot of enquiries this year, so now is your chance to make it happen – but please get your submissions in before January 23, because any received after this date will not be considered."
You read the man.
:: Apply now via Stendhalfestival.com