Toshack Highway

Magnetic Morning/Aspirin Age

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On this split release, Sonic Unyon has paired two EPs, Toshack Highway's Magnetic Morning and Sianspheric's Aspirin Age, on two discs for the price of one. Toshack Highway is the post-Swervedriver project helmed by that band's main man, Adam Franklin. Toshack Highway cuts down the guitar overkill ratio and dials up the atmosphere. The main constants from the past to the present are Franklin's laconic and thoroughly bored-sounding vocals and his unerring way with a hook. The five tracks on Magnetic Morning show off Toshack Highway's subtly anthemic songwriting and epic feel ("The Streets That Spin Off," the almost Swervedriver-sounding "[She's Got] Celestial Navigation"), small-scale epic balladry ("Cannery Row"), and intimate country-rock leanings ("Country Grass," the acoustic "The Sounds and the Times"). There are no traces of the electronic soundscapes that made their debut album sound a touch generic. Instead, listeners get classic guitar rock with brains, unusually emotional and typically imaginative. These five songs will be like manna from above to Swervedriver fans and should even win over those who thought the group was too rock or shoegaze-y. Sianspheric is a Canadian group that did its best to keep the sound of shoegaze alive in the late '90s. On their five songs, they have stuck with the plan with varying results. Not terribly original or memorable and saddled with a nondescript vocalist, each song sounds like a shadow of another band. "No Space" sounds like Slowdive at its most amorphous; "This All Happened" sounds almost lawsuit-close to Swervedriver, only without the hook; "Beneath the Ocean Floor" swells and drifts like the Verve, "Aspirin Age" strums and mumbles like early Moose. The only track that makes an impression is "Song For," and even that is feather light. Certainly they suffer in comparison to the much improved Toshack Highway. Too bad that band didn't save their five songs for a full-length release instead. Now anyone who purchases this disc is getting one good EP for the price of two.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Title/Composer Performer Time
feat: Sianspheric
feat: Sianspheric
feat: Sianspheric
feat: Sianspheric
feat: Sianspheric
blue highlight denotes track pick