Toshack Highway Toshack Highway

Toshack Highway is the side project of Swervedriver singer Adam Franklin, who is taking a bit of time away from his band to work out some excess creative energy. Swervedriver fans looking for the signature guitar assault from the forbearers of all things shoegazing will be shocked to find an interesting collection of instrumentals and lavish soundscapes, quite unlike anything attempted with the full band. Here, Franklin focuses less on the guitar and more on electronics, with collaborator/producer Charlie Francis helping out the album's 12 dreamy tracks. The easiest way to describe most of the songs on Toschack Highway would be that they sound like a laid-back, stripped-down, tripped-out Swervedriver - and that's stretching it a bit. "Wurlitzer Waltzer" and "I've Lost the Feeling" capture some of the best and most recognisable elements of Franklin's songwriting, whereas other tracks sound much more abstract - like they were influenced more by tranquilisers and Tangerine Dream than tequila and T-Rex. For example, "Just Landed" and "Waking Up" take the listener on an aural ride through organs, sound effects, samples and, yes, guitar effects, with the latter being mostly unrecognisable. "Valentine Number One," in particular, goes so far as to take muddy guitar loops and spin them backwards - perhaps in tribute to their former labelmates and sonic cousins My Bloody Valentine. Overall, this is a great CD and much smoother and more relaxed than one might expect. (Catapult)