Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Now Hear This: Bullet Lavolta - Swandive


     Bullet Lavolta formed in 1987 in Boston and consisted of singer Yukkie Gipe, guitarists Clay Tarver and Corey Brennan, bassist Bill Whelan and drummer Chris Guttmacher. The band built a loyal following on the Boston club scene before releasing their debut EP and LP in 1988 and 1989 respectively on local indie label Taang. In 1990 the band signed with RCA and recorded their major label debut with producer Dave Jerden, who was fresh from working with Jane's Addiction and Alice In Chains. Swandive was released on October 9, 1991.

     The album blasts off with a caustic tune called "Rails," a punky song with a very melodic chorus. 

     A bleak exercise in quasi-thrash called "My Protector" is followed by the album's title track, a blistering dose of hard rock which, like the album itself, displays a cobbled together patchwork of influences, from the sixties, seventies, eighties, you name it.

     Next up is one of the poppier moments on the album, an excellent song called "Between the Lines." After a battering ram of a verse comes a nice moment of clarity called the chorus.

     Side One ends with a slightly boring dirge called "Blizzard" but Side Two opens strong with two great songs, probably the two best songs on the album, an anthemic rocker called "Sunshine" and the album's most melodic tune, an obvious potential lost hit single called "Before I Fall." (Links below)

     The last three songs on the album maintain that consistent quality, making this a very good record all the way through, and Bullet Lavolta were in the right place at the right time, that's for sure, considering Swandive was released on the very same day as Nirvana's Nevermind and the band played shows with Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins before either band broke, but RCA/BMG was a notorious label for dropping the ball when it came to marketing and promotion and Bullet Lavolta got very little. 

     Swandive without a doubt was a potential hit album in the wake of the success of bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, not to mention those other bands Dave Jerden had produced, Jane's Addiction and Alice In Chains. A video was made for "Swandive" but the label apparently never sprang for a video for "Before I Fall," which was a huge mistake. That song was the key to the band's success, and it languished on Side Two, track 7. What a shame. The band, probably disgusted and dejected, never made another album, breaking up in 1992.

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