Growing Old With Rock and Roll

Growing Old With Rock and Roll

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Swirl - Ditch Day Soundtrack (2017)

Photography: Neil Zlozower



Southern California based hard rock/metal four piece Swirl has survived tumultuous years only to finally strike on the right sound and membership that explodes the talent present from the beginning. Their self-titled second album ranks as one of the most raucous, energetic offerings in recent memory from this scene and a primary reason for this is how they bring seemingly opposing styles together for a seamless whole. Swirl’s lyrics are a cut above variations on relatively standard themes in the rock and roll landscape, but they are also delivered with tremendous urgency that makes it sound like they are singing and playing for their lives. Three songs from the latest album appear in the recent theatrical release Ditch Day and these numbers are representative of the band’s power, musicality, and intelligence.

“Spell”, the first song, opens with some impressively rhythmic attacking bass from Shane Carlson before the remainder of the band comes in led by guitarist Duane “DT” Jones. The track locks onto an immediate groove, but there’s nothing overtly commercial about this. Swirl rocks with genuine attitude and conviction. This impression is only further reinforced when vocalist Alfred Ramirez comes in. Ramirez has considerable melodic talents as a singer, but the presence and authority he conveys is just as important. Classic front men require at least a dash of the superhuman in order to get over with rock and roll audiences and the effortless swagger Ramirez reflects fits the bill quite nicely. There’s certainly a hard rock aesthetic powering Swirl’s performances, but there’s also a decidedly metallic edge to their musical slant manifesting itself largely in the guitar playing. There’s flash and fundamentals here in equal measure.

“Rise Up” has hard hitting musical virtues that transition nicely into an exhortative, crowd-pleasing chorus. Ramirez is able to make all of these adjustments on the seeming fly and his phrasing is livelier than most hard rock/metal singers ever muster.  There’s much more of a concentration on fundamentals here than flash, but Duane Jones’ personality comes through on guitar and he has a readily identifiable style that never risks imitation. His lead break on this track is particularly memorable and melodic. The final song included on the soundtrack, “We Are Alive”, dispenses with the lightly fatalistic rock and roll trappings of the previous tune in favor of a more socially consciousness approach, but Swirl aren’t ever a specific issues band. Instead, the lyrics for “We Are Alive” are more concerned with us realizing our identity in a world frequently looking to squash such efforts and they strike the right rousing note for their musical efforts. There’s some guitar pyrotechnics coloring this track, but it’s never self-indulgent. The Swirl that comes through in these three songs is a lean, mean rock band with attitude and technique to burn. They write and record passionate songs with an intelligent bite and aren’t afraid to rough up their textures as need demands. These performances make for a great addition to Ditch Day and should provide the band with some added exposure.

Written by: Dale Butcher


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