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Toshack Highway

Toshack Highway is the umbrella name for all the projects undertaken by Swervedriver vocalist/guitarist Adam Franklin's since his seminal shoegazer band went on semi-permanent hiatus in the late '90s. Initially Toshack was a trio also featuring Sophia drummer Jeff Towsin and accomplished producer/session musician Charlie Francis on keyboards, bass, and knobs. In this configuration, Toshack released a long self-titled LP in 2000, which extended Swervedriver's paradigmatic swirly pop aesthetic into all sorts of arenas which had been taboo for the old band, including sleepy spaghetti western-ish country-rock, Fahey-esque faux-folk noodling, and bubbling electronic pop. Rather than build on this acclaimed foray into eclectic post-shoegazer atmospherics, however, the next year Franklin released a four-song EP titled Everyday, Rock 'n' Roll Is Saving My Life, also under the Toshack rubric, but this time consisting of his own lo-fi voice/guitar/percussion demos, which sounded to many like dusty old Swervedriver demos.

In 2003, Toshack Highway came back with another release, this one 2CD split LP (Melodic Morning/Aspiring Age) with the Canadian neo-shoegazer group Sianspheric, which Franklin had met while touring Canada in the late '90s. Featuring the return of Francis and Towsin to the Toshack lineup, the five-song Magnetic Morning disc nicely splits the difference between the two previous Toshack efforts. Neither as scattered as the first album, nor as stripped-down as the Rock and Roll EP, Magnetic Morning features insanely catchy hooks, endearingly lazy vocals, and dense, shimmering pop arrangements, nicely consolidating Franklin's other stylistic leanings into a classic and cohesive melodic rock sound. In addition to four attractive new Toshack songs, the EP features a gentle finger-picked version of the epic closer to Swervedriver's last album 99th Dream, "The Sounds and the Times."

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