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Wayward Sway - On a Broken Machine

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Wayward Sway
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CD Baby

Album Reviews: ?The title of Wayward Sway's new album brings to mind an old record player stuck skipping on a song. On the contrary, On a Broken Machine is far from repetitive and it's 12 tracks play through fluidly. The album kicks off with a slow, introspective, banjo-driven tune called "Western Slough." With vocals hushed à la Iron and Wine and understated ambient instrumentation reminiscent of Pink Floyd, Wayward Sway leans into it's work. Next up is the romping banjo and fiddle tune "Well Lit Places." There's something amiss in the mixing on this track that seems to come and go throughout the disc. Regardless of the technical difficulties, the song itself is one of the strongest on the album, particularly due to the Pogues-like group vocals on the refrain and the sorrowful fiddle solo that follows. "Kara" is a sweet unrequited love song that pines, "I can talk forever and barely make you smile ... Kara, you know it's far too late." In the fiddle section, one can almost detect a nod to "Girl from Ipanema," which may or may not have been intentional. Either way, it's an appreciated, appropriate melodic quote. Another strong moment on the album is the especially melodious "Harbor," which also reveals a bit of a Pogues influence. It's unfortunate that the instruments aren't more balanced in the mix, but the song is strong enough to stand up against that recurring issue. In fact, it's the extensive instrumental breaks that make the song so haunting. So the only instance of repetition turns out to be where Wayward Sway's best skills lie: in it's instrumental solos and highly infectious energy. -Kim Ruehl, Performer Magazine I was treated to the sounds of Wayward Sway at a San Francisco bar in late 2007, a local show featuring a local band. My intrigue was at peak level, due both to preparatory listens of MySpace mp3s and feelings of inspiration after reading the band's eloquent and unique bio: 'They stomp their feet and sing with their hearts. Sometimes they are out of tune. Sometimes they are out of touch. Still they persist. Let them.' With this excerpt, the band manages to sum up the story of every Little Indie Band That Could, demonstrating even before the first listen that Wayward Sway may very well be a cut above the rest. Amongst the bottomless well of bands that emerge seemingly every week with sample packs of mp3s in tow, it is indeed the value of persistence that allows for the building of both musical improvement and integrity, features that make a band worthy of your ears and your respect. With their debut self-release, On a Broken Machine, Wayward Sway boast a collective, intimate feel, revealing experimental folk music woven from elegant layers that continuously reveal skilled and unblemished songwriting at it's core. On a Broken Machine could easily be mistaken for a traditional folk record, as songs like 'Western Slough,' 'Kara, 'Dry & On the Mind,' and 'Kiss the Exorcist' are eponymous in their acoustic textures, nimble banjo, and gentle self-effacing lyrics. However, the more turbulent and less definable qualities that drive songs like 'Well Lit Places,' 'Blackened Ground,' 'Harbor,' and 'Rising River' take the center of the album to more effervescent level, with 'Kiss the Exorcist' closing the album to the tune of the sweet and the forlorn. 'Weak for Fire' serves as an extraordinary center of On a Broken Machine, with it's taut strumming set to rootsy percussion, vocals swirling in a layered frenzy, and the polished violin hook leading the way to the song's emotionally exhilarating apex. The members of Wayward Sway are confident and savvy with their respective roles in the band; the bass, drums, and guitars all solid, the banjo pluckings infectious and detailed, the additions of the mandolin and violin lovely and perfectly balanced. Martin Hirsimaki's vocals, which are tough to swallow at first, go from poetically forceful to hushed and quavering at a moment's notice, the result of which is a textured, vulnerable temperament that brings a new level of likeability to the music's homespun heart. Experiencing Wayward Sway's entire package, I have found that anticipation and intrigue have turned into appreciation and a notable hunger for more. I can only hope that the band's anthem of persistence will continue as such. -Anna Gazdowicz, Treble Magazine Not many rock bands have full-time banjo, mandolin and violin players. Not many rock bands can play credible bluegrass licks. Wayward Sway is one of the few. And this is a rock band. These songs are set in regular rock and roll constructions, even when the arrangements ape bluegrass or other roots sounds. The feel is almost punk, given the manic playing and occasional inattention to small details. Consistency in key or tuning isn't a must. Energy and intensity is. The technical lapses are small, however. The spirit of these songs and performances are what drive this album to greatness. The loose studio sound--not sparse or minimalist, just loose--gives the songs and players room to breathe, which leaves everything sounding impeccably natural. Wayward Sway doesn't fit in any genre. It simply makes great music. I guess these folks will just have to live with that. -Aiding & Abetting 'Wayward Sway's debut full-length album On a Broken Machine,(is) a great mix of folk, country and rock sounds with some great diverse instrumentation and an infectious energy to the songwriting.' -The Bay Bridged Sufjan Stevens, eat your heart out: These folks know how to rock a banjo the way it was meant to be rocked. Mandolin and violin, too. Wayward Sway's bluegrass rock is refreshingly authentic, original, and full of life. - Nate Seltenrich, East Bay Express Wayward Sway songs range from dark, off-kilter campfire sing alongs, to ballads of unrequited love and stomping tunes inspiring nightlife debauchery. Their music entwines folk, country, rock and traditional influences. The delicate balance of instrumentation includes acoustic guitars, banjo, mandolin, dobro, bass, violin, accordions and an occasional electric guitar. These are all held together with the clunking, pounding and crashing of bottles, pots, pans, washboards, gongs, cymbals and drums, which are collectively known as their junk percussion. As Wayward Sway continues to play and sing, they can be found residing in the San Francisco Bay Area. The lines and the songs of the past have come together in the music of Wayward Sway, and their sound is nothing but their own. Acoustic strings, junk percussion, and a chorus of vocals fill the air, while stories of the dispossessed are spun for your dancing pleasure.

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Wayward Sway - On a Broken Machine.

1) Western Slough
2) Well Lit Places
3) Blackened Ground
4) Kara
5) Underset
6) Harbor
7) New Chalk
8) Seasick ; Reeling
9) Weak for Fire
10) Dry ; on the Mend
11) Rising River
12) Kiss the Exorcist

On a Broken Machine
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On a Broken Machine | Wayward Sway