Swell were a band (initially a duo) from San Francisco in the very late ’80s/ and ’90s with a unique and distinctive minimalist fusion of elements of post-punk, psychedelic rock and grunge played on acoustic + fuzzy electric guitars and funky motorik drumming thing going on. Here’s “Get High” from their first (1990) album.

(Much) more experimental than their peers Swell – initially just guitarist/ vocalist David Freel and drummer Sean Kirkpatrick on this album – found appreciation in the UK via regular plays on John Peel’s radio show, particularly this song and also “At Long Last” from their follow-up album “… well?”.

Thirty years on it’s still hard to work out where they fit in the grand parade of musical evolution. Maybe Swell were influenced in some way by early Pixies but maybe they weren’t, and maybe they subsequently influenced The Beta band and Gomez in some way, but maybe they didn’t.

Their first, self-titled, album was released on Freel’s own wonderfully-named label pSychoSpecificMusic before Freel and Kirkpatrick assembled a band. Their first show in the US after the album was released was support for Mazzy Star in San Francisco in 1990.

The even better follow-up “…well?” was released on PsychoSpecific before being re-released a year later on the Rick Rubin’s Def American label and on European labels, a part of the world the band toured extensively in the 1990s. Swell went on to release several more albums.

A band well worth exploring further if you weren’t aware of them before.