Sounds like rock does not need any saving yet, as long as songs like “Know It All” are being made. The brand new single by Swerve serves fans of down-to-earth rock’n’roll a delicious slice of warm and solid guitars, paired with heavy hitting drums and smooth baritone vocals, albeit angered up a notch or two. The latter does not come as a surprise, given the lyrical context.
Hearing the track Lose Control by indie rockers Swerve made me think of late 70's / 80's iconic L.A rock ala The Plimsouls and similar such bands like The Knack or the Nerves. It was a pristine time for this kind of rock that was like indie rock now but referred to as new wave. Swerve has some of those touches and in Lose Control you hear those earmarks. Clean guitar strains, upfront clean yet gritty vox and the double time snare beat popping up during the chorus. It is a sound that give me fond memories.
There’s nothing better than a band called SWERVE asking everyone to lose control – both figuratively, and literally. A fun, bashful rock song with a sunny disposition, Swerve’s “Lose Control” is a sing-your-heart-out anthem resonating with warm, feelgood vibes.
A collection of press clippings for Swerve.
“I’ve been living in the city so long/where everything is covered by smog/and everything I wanted was wrong”
That’s the chorus to LA foursome Swerve’s single “Everything (Hey Girl)” off of their self-titled EP. The sentiment may echoe throughout the lives of bloody-nosed dreamers all over Southern California, but the band’s sunny hooks better evoke the no-apologies fun of 90s Britpop like Blur.
Quotes frontman Gregory Mahdesian:
“We feel that ‘Everything (Hey Girl)’ has a slinky, moody vibe to it, but like a lot of our songs it doesn’t take itself too seriously. With that in mind, we wanted the video to be a kind of a playful dark comedy- something that might straddle the line between moody sincerity and silly humor. To create the video’s trippy, drunken effect, we actually filmed the clip in double time and then slowed it down to match up with the audio track!”
This single-take video was directed by Hank Fontaine of the LA band The Fontaines, who you are sure to read more about later this year on Yay! LA. Show the video below some California love and if you like what you hear you will be happy to know that all through May, Swerve will be hosting a Tuesday night residency at the DTLA Resident venue. Tickets can be purchased HERE.
Sometimes two people admitting they like each other can be quite a challenge; it seems almost miraculous when it does happen. But mustering the courage to confirm takes just as much, if not more, as things don’t always work out. The newest single from Swerve touches on this feeling, and the catchy number comes and goes as quick as a one-night stand. “Are You Coming Home With Me?” is a ’90s dream. Beginning with a contemplative, slightly angsty chord progression, paired with a bittersweet lead line, the nostalgia trip is compounded when Gregory Mahdesian’s voice — smooth and self-assured — is introduced. He sets the scene, “fantasized about this all my life … this feeling I can’t hide,” and poses the million-dollar question.
The follow-up to last October’s self-titled EP, the song was produced by the band’s now-bassist Brandon Duncan and plays on staple elements of the Britpop and grunge movements. Cinematic in lyrics and timbre, this song is perfect for a lover’s montage in Act II of any rom-com. Mahdesian notes that the song is, “about agonizing over how badly you want someone and deciding to just go for it and see what happens. Maybe that’s the solution, but maybe not.”
Material: Swerve's melodic pop-rock songs reference decades of rock & roll history. Whereas the second song they performed during their set at L.A.’s Chinatown Summer Nights festival, “Everything (Hey Girl),” opens with a heavy, minor key guitar riff that would sound at home on a ’90s-era Weezer album, sixth song “Dumb Romeo” features country and psychedelic moments that recall the era of rock when the Rolling Stones topped the Billboard charts. At times, this can cause them to sound unfocused, but their disparate influences are grounded by an easy-going California rocker vibe.
Musicianship: Overall, the band’s focus is on tightly-written pop songs rather than flashy musicianship. Both Mahdesian and second guitarist Brandon Duncan took a fair number of solos throughout their set, which always served a melodic purpose rather than to show off either player’s skill with the guitar. Most importantly, Swerve’s four members always looked at ease playing with one another and were consistently locked into their material.
Performance: Mahdesian’s stage presence was equal parts California hipster and beach-going slacker, with an energy most comparable to the laid-back style of retro indie rocker Kurt Vile. Since their performance was at a festival featuring plenty of non-musical attractions, a good number of their audience members were new and unsuspecting listeners, but it’s a testament to Swerve’s strength as a band that the entrance to the audience standing area was practically blocked off by festival-goers who had stopped and stayed to watch their set.
Summary: Retro rock is unquestionably relevant right now, and Swerve is contributing their own voice to this musical movement. Occasional moments in their set sounded unfocused, though this may ultimately be to their benefit.
Swerve sounds at their strongest in songs like “Baby Blue,” which rework the style of heavy pop hooks popularized by Nirvana for a modern rock audience, and incorporating country riffs like in “Dumb Romeo” or antepenultimate track “Know It All” as well as influences from a few other disparate genres of rock will only help them stand out.