An interesting band to emerge out of England's late seventies post-punk movement. Taking their name from a chart used by surfers to gauge wave size, They never received much commercial success during their lifespan, but have been namechecked by bands like Pavement and Sonic Youth despite only releasing two albums. Particularly, Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore said; "The first Swell Maps single I bought ('Let's Build A Car') still to this day gives me a soul scorched buzz'n'rush. As soon as Nikki Sudden's guitar comes slicing slabbing and all out fuzzifying off that crackling vinyl groove you know yr gonna rock. The Swell Maps had a lot to do with my upbringing... I wish I saw them"

Started by two brothers, Nikki Sudden (vocals/guitar) and Epic Soundtracks (piano/drums), the Swell Maps were formed in 1972, but the band did not properly begin until 1976, when Epic and Nikki found Jowe Head and Richard Earl on bass and guitar respectively to play with them. In the beginning of 1978, They released a single in true punk DIY style; 'Read About Seymour' on their own label; Rather Records. The single was a bit of a local hit, and they received an offer to have their distribution handled by big indie label Rough Trade Records. It was a year though, before their next single 'Dresden Style.'

It wasn't until about halfway through 1979 that the Swell Maps released their full-length debut; A Trip to Marineville. Alternating between three-chord punk thrash, Krautrock and free form noise experimentation, the album was a little ambitious, but was reasonably well received considering it's strange content. Swell Maps went on to release one more single 'Let's Build a Car', before they released their final studio LP in 1980; Jane From Occupied Europe. This album had alot more focus, but still retained the 'Maps' bizarre songwriting and experimentation. Swell Maps broke up after Jane From Occupied Europe, but about six releases of Studio Outtakes and Best-Ofs followed. Every member of Swell Maps went onto a solo career, most notably Jowe Head, who went onto play with the Television Personalities.


1978: Read About Seymour (single)
1979: Dresden Style (single)
1979: Trip To Marineville (album)
1980: Let's Build A Car (single}
1980: Jane From Occupied Europe (album)
1981: Whatever Happens Next... (compilation featuring two albums of home made demos)
1982: Collision Time (compilation)
1987: Train Out Of It (compilation of outtakes and singles)
1989: Collision Time Revisited (compilation, probably the best introduction to Swell Maps)
1999: International Rescue (compilation)
2001: Sweep The Desert (compilation)

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