Walter Sickert - WINNER Boston's Best Artist 2011 and 2012 - Boston Phoenix Reader's Poll
Rock - n - Roll Rumble Semi-Finalist!
WINNER Deli Magazine BEST OF
Boston Music Award LIVE ARTIST of the YEAR
"Musically sophisticated and immensely talented, wildly unusual and diverse in material and presentation, a Dada-esque circus carnival run amuck, and just plain good ‘not-always-so-clean’ fun." Boston Survival Guide
"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean--neither more nor less."
Walter's InkDrip Site: http://www.armyoftoys.com/inkdrip
MyHell (remember that!?!): http://www.myspace.com/armyoftoys
"There is a curious blend of mischief and morbidity in Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys, as the duo of Sickert and Edrie are called. They garnish their ominous doom-folk with the theatricality of a demonic circus troupe. Past performances have included storytellers, fire-eaters, glass-eaters, contortionists and, of course, Edrie's broken toy army." Boston Herald
"Holy Damn this is so good...if Jim Morrison is walking the afterworld, he surely must audition for this band. And I shall be the one to tell him to!" The Noise
“Somewhere between hell and your own bedroom”, Walter Sickert and Edrie let you know how it feels to be broken. Boston’s Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys offer their broken toy wisdom with the help of the WIRETOOTH animals and their Broken Toy Army of 9-15 artists, who “roll in with their burlesque dancers, leers and winks and Hieronymus Bosch tableaus of living mannequins and props and while they play you accept decay, laugh at sex and revel in life. When they roll out again you feel empty”. Dark, witty and hard hitting, they will “confound the mind while amazing the senses” with their new CD SteamShipKillers, releasing June 01, 2010.
The band formed when principals Walter Sickert and Edrie dealt with the turmoil and loss that came after their spouses took a road trip together and never returned. Framing the forests of their songs around love, betrayal and heartbreak, the band says their music is for anyone who has ever been broken.
Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys have been making as much noise nationally as they do locally. With a steady foundation of coverage by Boston press including The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, the Noise and The Phoenix; the Army of Toys has also been featured nationally on NPR’s Here and Now, All Songs Considered and on MuchMusic. The band was honored to be featured at NXNE music Conference in Toronto, Canada where they also won Best International Song for the track “Pale Horse” by Toronto Magazine. In addition, Walter has been featured for the last five years as a part of the RPM challenge sponsored by New Hampshire’s The Wire.
SteamShipKillers kicks off with a ruckus of a track “A Friend in Goddam” which was created on the band’s third European tour. “We were in Amsterdam and the place we were staying had a glassed conservatory in the middle of this beautiful garden,” says Edrie, where they “found a beautiful grand piano that Walter started to play just as a soft misty rain began to fall. We felt a little like Alice exploring Wonderland happening upon the Mad Hatter tea party.”
The track “Cataclysm” is a dramatic, churning maelstrom on a vast musical ocean whose waves come crashing down, leaving one simply stunned. Proving the band’s instrumentation is just as eclectic as their recorded tracks; “Cataclysm” features not only the standard guitar and drums but also features violin, viola, clarinet, upright bass, accordion, ukulele and melodica.
The “rollicking, raunchy sideshow of jolly, wheezing menace and delight” live experience of Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys have taken the band across the US and beyond, playing such revered venues as the Hynes Convention Center for First Night, Symphony Hall in Boston, 930 Club in DC, Webster Hall in NYC, Royce Hall in LA, NXNE in Toronto, the Stone Pony in NJ, and the Melkweg in Amsterdam etc. Their live antics have earned them a headlining spot at Steampunk World’s Faire 2010 and opening spots alongside international contemporaries the Tiger Lillies and Amanda Palmer at several venues. The band has also taken the experience of their live shows online, with a redesigned and highly interactive Website known as the WIREFOREST. With this new album and tour plans in the US and Europe, there is so much more to come from the WIREFOREST – the wiretooth animals are hungry!
Walter Sickert - Vocals, Guitar, Piano
Edrie - Accordion, bells, cymbal clapping Mokey
Rachel Jayson - Viola
Meff - Rythym Guitar, mustache
TJ Horn - Drums
jojo the Burlesque Poetess - ukulele, spoken word
Mike Leggio - Stand-up Bass
See our BANDCAMP for the most recent info!
Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys "28 Seeds (The Sound Track) 2012
Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys "DEAR MOON" 2012
Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys "Soldiers Came" 2011 - single created for IFC's Young Broke and Beautiful (the band was featured in the episode - search for the episode on iTunes!)
Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys "DREAM DROME" February 2010
Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys "Live at the Middle East" Live recording October 2010
Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys SteamShipKillers studio Album - June 2010
Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys "28 Seeds: the Last Radio Show" Feb 2010 - for RPM Challenge
Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys "Sepiachord Field Guide" Heroin Pig single released for SteamCon 2009
Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys "Casualty Menagerie" EP Sept 2008
Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys "In Memoriam" 2007 (5 limited edition EPs)
Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys - Almanac of The Wireforest (double disc) - 2007
Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys - self titled - 2006 (receiving extensive radio play nation wide)
Optic Rose - 28 days inside the squid (double disc) - 2006
Optic Rose - Whitechapel - 2005
Optic Rose - Self Titled CD - 2003
(all music written & recorded by Walter Sickert)
Out: Walter Sickert envisions his Broken Toy apocalypse
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Throughout history, influential entertainers such as Stanley Kubrick, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, and...Throughout history, influential entertainers such as Stanley Kubrick, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, and the dudes who wrote the Bible have peddled theoretical final chapters to history. But unlike Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys, those people lacked the gumption to envision the end times as an all-singing, all-dancing multimedia spectacular. "Ever since I was a little kid, I have been obsessed with the apocalypse," says Sickert. "I don't know if it was from being thrown into Catholic school when I wasn't baptized, then kids finding out and chasing me around with Bibles; or from when I grew up in a boat and the boat burnt down. But it's fascinating how multicultural the idea is."
The dirgey darkness of the Toys' art-rock rightly foretells that 28 Seeds — a musical coproduced by the Toys and avant-garde troupe Liars and Believers — ain't Guys and Dolls. Sickert's dreams of dystopia interfuse with a saga incorporating the proliferation of mechanical trees, nationalistic fury against Canada, a terrorist organization with a sexy secret, and a disembodied human brain that could save us all. (Spoiler alert: it doesn't.)
Despite the Toys' renowned penchant for theatricality, the two-time Readers' Poll winner for best artist and his longtime accomplice Edrie guesstimate that they've seen only three or four stage-plays within the past 10 years. But at the behest of Liars and Believers, they consented to convert the 28 Seeds radio play into a live spectacle a few years ago. Notable credit goes to the Toys' in-house playwright and mandolin player, known as "Meff."
"People like to scare themselves into doing things," says Sickert. "It's a great excuse, you know? 'The world's going to end! Let's make as much art or fuck as much as we can or —' "
" 'Repent!' " Edrie chimes in sarcastically. Adds Sickert: "We know the end of the world will happen to all of us, individually, because of death. No one gets out of that."
28 SEEDS | Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont St, Boston | Until May 12 | 16+ | $35 | 617.426.5000
Read more: http://thephoenix.com/boston/music/137897-out-walter-sickert-envisions-his-broken-toy-apoca/#ixzz22W0N4Se6
Seeds of Destruction
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Our inner worrywarts made it tough to enjoy 2012’s unseasonably warm winter: we kept picturing a wal...Our inner worrywarts made it tough to enjoy 2012’s unseasonably warm winter: we kept picturing a wall of water from melted ice caps roaring through Back Bay. Clearly, it’s hard to resist rubbernecking at an imagined apocalypse, so sign us up for 28 Seeds, a new musical that employs live actors, video, and dance to portray a planetary collapse.
In the tradition of eco-driven science fiction like Dune, 28 Seeds concerns itself with the disastrous results of unchecked industry. “Our central plot idea is resource shortage, taken to an extreme,” explains director Jason Slavik, founder of avant-garde theater troupe Liars & Believers. “In the play, there’s no clean air left in the United States, so, naturally, we go to war with Canada.” As North America descends into dire human-caused conflict, the cast also finds itself faced with a looming natural disaster: an asteroid on a collision course with Earth. And the growing call for action falls upon the deaf ears of a government consumed by its own agenda.
If this all sounds a bit too plausible for comfort, you’re not alone. “There’s a troubling parallel between the play and the rate at which we’re consuming oil and how that may worsen global warming,” says Slavik. But don’t expect a depressing PSA: 28 Seeds promises a rollicking ride, in no small part thanks to its music, which comes courtesy of the fantastical steamcrunk ensemble Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys. Slavik met Sickert during the run of Liars & Believers’ 2010 “punk fairy tale,” Le Cabaret Grimm. Each show opened with performances by different Boston “fringe artists,” says Slavik, referring to eccentric performers who rarely see the mainstream spotlight but are nonetheless “dark, interesting, and beautiful.” Sickert opened Grimm’s first night with his unique steampunk style, which Slavik affectionately calls “inventorly.” Think Jules Verne meets Tim Burton. “For costuming, you stitch velvet with steel, outfit a top hat with work goggles, or build a corset with gears,” Slavik says. “It’s all very DIY, in an industrial, tongue-in-cheek sort of way.”
With his ensemble, the Army of Broken Toys, Sickert delivers steamcrunk music that piles fiery vocal work atop jazzy double bass, violins, and folk guitars. Clad in feathers, tights, and other garb that seems scavenged from a Victorian circus cart, they provide a rambunctious soundtrack for the play’s mad scientists and fascist generals, endowing the apocalypse with more scraggly merriment than we’ve encountered since “It’s the End of the World as We Know It.” Hear it for yourself when 28 Seeds plants itself on stage at the BCA Plaza Theatre (539 Tremont Street, Boston, 617.426.5000) from April 19 through May 12. Visit liarsandbelievers.com for tickets ($35) and show times.
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When you get a group together to try and turn a steampunk radio play into a steampunk musical, some ...When you get a group together to try and turn a steampunk radio play into a steampunk musical, some problems are simply unavoidable.
“The monkey-knife fight was pretty tough to translate to the stage,”
muses playwright/bandmember Meff on the Liars & Believers Theater Company/Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys band collaboration, but struggles like these are not in vain. 28 Seeds works to give its audience a totally unique theater experience, an apocalyptic rock opera that doesn’t stoop to the doldrums of today’s rock musicals.
Seeds originates from the aforementioned Broken Toys, who released 28 Seeds: The Last Radio Play back in 2010. The end of the world is the name of the game, but “government conspiracy, burlesque, ray guns, and tentacles” also show themselves. Today, the LP has grown into a more tangible entity, starting its month-long run as a live show at the Boston Center for the Arts on April 19.
“It’s sort of a musical, but not a musical,” explains Broken Toys member Edrie. “It’s very interactive; it’s Sleep No More meets the crazy thing your uncle does. We want to have the most fully immersive experience as possible.”
Immersive is indeed a driving force in Seeds, from the musical’s characters tweeting in real life about their fabricated universe’s end to an accompanying comic book for theater patrons.
This is a musical that simply refuses to stay on stage.
And for those squeamish about the terms “theater” or “musical,” 28 Seeds is set to become your new best friend.
“I want people who go to rock shows, or people who read comic books to be like, ‘Oh, I feel like there’s a place for me,’” says Meff. “It’s not Andrew Lloyd Weber, it’s totally different.”
PRESENTED BY LIARS & BELIEVERS THEATER CO.
RUNS THRU SAT 5.12.12
BOSTON CENTER FOR THE ARTS
539 TREMONT ST.
Missing 28 Seeds with Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys
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Walter Sickert and Meff from the Army of Broken Toys are missing their musical 28 Seeds, which just ...Walter Sickert and Meff from the Army of Broken Toys are missing their musical 28 Seeds, which just closed at Boston Center for the Arts. And while I can't speak for you, I'm missing it too. In fact, I completely missed it all together, much to my sadness--especially since I like to pay special attention to intersections of local music and other mediums.
Watch the promotional video here, safe for work, especially if you work with animals.
28 Seeds was the biggest musical/theatrical performance from a live Boston act since Amanda Palmer did Cabaret at A.R.T. But this one was an original work. Frankly I'm not surprised that the show was a success. In some ways, the transition to stage for Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys is an organic one. After all, their live shows already include costumes (at least I think they are costumes) and a strong burlesque element. Gothic folk mixed with punk and Eastern European influences--a lot of which sounds like a more gypsy verison of Pere Ubu to me--Steamcrunk, they call it. Although, I think using a genre to describe the band is more a convenience for journalists than an accurate depiction of what the Army is really up to.
28 Seeds was the story of the end of the world, as imagined by Walter Sickert in collaboration with Broken Toy, Meff. The production was developed in collaboration with Liars & Believers and directed by Jason Slavic. In it, stories, songs, propaganda and advertisements are used to tell the story of an impending asteroid, a government cover-up (surprise, surprise), plague, famine, war, and Earth's final days. All with great original music, no less, that Sickert describes to me as, War of the Rocky Horror Picture Show Worlds. To me it sounds vaguely like something that would be concocted in a booth at Denny's at 3AM in the middle of Arkansas. In the best way. Am I wrong? Not really. "I wrote alone in my closet in 7 hours," says Sickert.
"The entire play is told in "found document" format," says Meff. "So each scene is a memo, or a Youtube post, or a tv commercial, news report, etc. The show actually was developed as the 'anti-showtunes.'" Sickert agrees in this description of the show's alternative approach. "We didn't want to make Cats."
According to Meff and Sickert, the whole thing started as an album, and was developed to a stage show from there (much like Futurity, recently at A.R.T). Don't take my word for it, sink your ears into the whole 28 Seeds album here. It's a blast. http://armyoftoys.bandcamp.com/album/28-seeds-the-last-radio-show
So now what? Is 28 Seeds over? Will I get a chance to see it? What's next? Will the world really end? Will I slow down with the questions?
"We hope 28 Seeds isn't over," says Sickert. "We have a few producers asking us some interesting questions about its future including one wanting to stage it off Broadway, another who wants to bring it to the UK. We've also been approached by a few different people about making a movie, a video game and writing a book... the possibilities are endless. My dream would be to see all of these things happen. More than a few people mentioned it was the next Rocky Horror - I say, get your toast and your Pale Horse pasties ready kids; it's going to be a wild ride!"
And what about Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys? Is this band, this production, this organism, is too big for Boston?
"Sometimes I think this organism is too big for this reality, that's why we created our own," says Meff. "In all seriousness, it was the most amazing experience of my life. Watching something that formed in Walter and my demented brains come to life in such a huge, colorful, hilarious, scary, wonderful way is almost impossible for me to describe."
'The Night Circus': Join The Discussion
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--Art and Live Performance By Walter Sickert and The Army of Broken Toys -- Join our discussion...--Art and Live Performance By Walter Sickert and The Army of Broken Toys --
Join our discussions below about "The Night Circus." Here's who you'll be hearing from...
Andrew Losowsky, Books Editor
I'm British, so anything you think I've spelled wrong, is actually just spelled older. I look for stories to take my brain into new spaces, and I'll be particularly discussing the facts as we think we know them, and the clues I think we're being given by the story. Let me know if you think I'm wrong! I'll also be choosing a few facts to use as jumping-off points for tangential discussions.
Zoë Triska, Associate Books Editor
I was a Literature major so I can't help analyzing every single thing (from the syntax and language to metaphors, similes, you name it). I (reluctantly) admit that I'm one of those people who Googles phrases, places, names every couple of pages when I'm reading. There are constantly things that stump me, though so I'd love to hear your thoughts on the significance of words, places, phrases, events that take place in the book.
Madeleine Crum, Assistant Books Editor
I like looking at language particularities, but in case you think that's a snooze (you wouldn't be alone), I'm also interested in reading what critics say about books and whether their reviews are spot on or way off. Let's talk about it.
Annemarie Dooling, Community Editor
Quotes, locations and descriptions speak to me the same way characters do. I love dissecting the same details that tell us more about the story than the actual prose. If you read the same books over and over and over again the same way you visit an out-of-town friend, we're going to get along just fine.
Here's our reading schedule:
May 27: Pages 1-64, or beginning through Condolences
June 3: 65-141, or The Contortionist's Tattoo through Atmosphere
June 10: 142-205, or Reveurs through Ailuromancy
June 17: 206-266, or Tete-a-Tete through Stormy Seas
June 24: 267-328, or An Entreaty through Precognition
July 1: 329 and on, or Pursuit through the end.
If you'd like to blog your experiences, or join the discussion, leave a comment below and let us know what you think about "The Night Circus."
The Phoenix Best 2012: Best Artist: Walter Sickert
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In the tradition of Cobain, Reed, and Cervenka, Walter Sickert declines to banish his phantasmagraph...In the tradition of Cobain, Reed, and Cervenka, Walter Sickert declines to banish his phantasmagraphy to the sonicsphere. 'Tis a boon, as this marks the second consecutive year Phoenix readers picked him as best artist. Better-known as general of the apocalyptic-folk outfit Army of Broken Toys, Sickert amalgamates impressions of pop culture, politics, magick, and his musician buddies into surrealist "InkDrips." Our faves include a melding of Gotham's caped crusader and Roald Dahl's eminent creation titled "Batman and the Chocolate Factory," and "Happy Good Time Rabbit," upon whose adorably pinchable stomach it is decreed, "You're Gonna Die.
Out: Walter Sickert and friends invade Brighton Music Hall
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While smoking behind Brighton Music Hall, I eavesdropped on one of the other cool nicotine-addicted ...While smoking behind Brighton Music Hall, I eavesdropped on one of the other cool nicotine-addicted kids as he asked his buddy, "Can you tell me what the fuck I just saw?"
This was before Walter Sickert and his dread pirate crew of Broken Toys arrived, in their ongoing quest to turn reality inside out. Throughout the evening, revelers masquerading as Westboro Baptists picketed with slogans like "God Hates Figs" and "Go Home Xenomorph." Because they do not enjoy being protested, Sickert and Co. entranced the fun police via the hypnotic power of dirgey apocalypse-folk. Psychically feeble as Jesus freaks tend to be, the demonstrators immediately tore most of their clothes off and commenced to boogie.
As for what the smoker couldn't figure out, it had something to do with an astral battle of wills between a scantily clad sorceress named Mary Widow and her unlikely twin brother, a blue-skinned intergalactic goblin warrior named Locrius, who also sings and plays the bass. Having cut out some poor bastard's still-beating heart in front of the piss-terrified capacity crowd, the blood-spattered Widow made no secret of her plans to murder everyone at BMH — especially Sickert. Originally, Locrius was all about the scheduled slaughter, until he remembered his interstellar transport vehicle requires human souls as fuel, and dead things don't have souls.
So, Locrius turned on his sinister sibling. Deploying his esoteric knowledge of Widow's weaknesses, he repeatedly shouted the two magic words he knew to be the Widow's kryptonite — "Helter" and "Skelter." In a counter-intuitive disregard for her own safety, Widow belted out the verses to the Beatles' classic with aplomb. Soon, both adversaries lay unconscious in a heap.
That, among other things, was what the guy smoking outside saw on Friday. Sickert's Toys, the cosmic rock of Locrius' Planetoid, the power poppin' Sidewalk Driver, Black Thai's immaculate prog-metal, and a cavalcade of burlesque hoofers staged one of the weirdest rock shows in memory.
Read more: http://thephoenix.com/boston/music/135782-out-walter-sickert-and-friends-invade-brighton-mu/#ixzz22P666Bh5
MUSIC AND LYRICS AND ARTS AND CRAFTS
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After hours of band practice, night after night of shows, and untold weeks spent on tour, these five...After hours of band practice, night after night of shows, and untold weeks spent on tour, these five performers don’t just catch up with Parks and Rec in their downtime. Sleep? Totally overrated. Instead, they channel their other creative side in the arts.
From selling crafts on Etsy to producing ‘zines, here are five multi-talented musicians.
Sickert and his group, the Army of Broken Toys, boast a so-called “SteamCRUNK” vibe—a jumble of circus performance eeriness, booming horns, and Sickert’s powerful drawl. On music and art, he said, “I have to do both to feel normal. It’s been that way since I was a kid. Our live shows are an art installation as much as a musical event. Kind of like your toy chest opened an art–brothel.” With no boundaries between his two professions, Sickert actively creates designs and album art for his band. Recently, he directed the short film Dear Moon and he illustrates unique prints with a touch of satire like “Occupy Walrus.” He is also involved in the creation of the immersive musical “28 Seeds,” opening on April 20 at the Boston Center for the Arts.
Walter Sickert leads a band of musical misfits
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When Walter Sickert and his Army of Broken Toys played an official First Night show at the Hynes Aud...When Walter Sickert and his Army of Broken Toys played an official First Night show at the Hynes Auditorium on New Year's Eve, they ran overtime and the soundman pulled the plug — which isn't quite the smartest way of shutting down an acoustic band. Especially one with two dozen singers, dancers, burlesque queens, and Lord knows what else in the line-up. And especially a band who're dead set on getting through the killer cover of "Ghostbusters" that they learned for the occasion.
"We were already two songs behind timewise when we went into our tasteful rendition of 'Ghostbusters,' which we went back to the 1880s to write," recalls Jojo Lazar, the group's uke player and resident poetess. "So we jumped into the crowd and finished it with their help, and from that point, there were no lines between us and them. That's the goal in our eyes, to make the audience part of the band. It was our shining Sex Pistols moment."
The Army of Toys didn't get run out of town the way the Pistols did — they've already been invited back for next year, their third First Night in a row. Still, this wasn't your usual family entertainment, given the motley crew on stage. Ringleaders Sickert and co-singer/accordionist Edrie come across like a pirate and an exotic marionette, respectively, and the music, hinged to Sickert's remarkably grizzled voice, draws from the bloodthirsty side of folk and cabaret.
At their Somerville headquarters last week, Sickert and crew were busy laying out plans for next Thursday's show at T.T. the Bear's. This typically involves a few levels of prep. Stage director Helena Prezio has already scoped out the place for ideas, and she's about to call in the "bunnies" — the 20-odd performers who augment the group on stage; they'll be instructed to listen to the set list and come up with something visually fitting. Guitarist Meff, who writes plays in her non-rock life, contributes conceptual bits. And Sickert is always ready with songs that have characters and storylines. "I think we present a healthy dose of everyone celebrating everyone, so nobody gets creeped out," says Lazar. "It's perversion with a smile."
It's been just two years since the group came together under sad but fitting circumstances: Sickert and Edrie were casual friends (she'd produced shows by his previous band) who got the news that their spouses had skipped town with each other. It was the perfect excuse to work as a duo and write self-pitying acoustic songs — which for a short time they did. (Hence the "broken toys" concept, which alludes both to their romantic hurt and to the misfit-toys sequence in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.) "You write the best songs when you're in the most pain, and it worked for me," says Sickert. "Most of us came into this band broken." Adds Edrie: "And that unpredictable serendipitous event wound up bringing us together."
Read more: http://thephoenix.com/boston/music/114972-walter-sickert-leads-a-band-of-musical-misfits/#ixzz22P4veLX5
Acts to Follow: Our annual round-up of the city’s rising musical stars.
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WALTER SICKERT & THE ARMY OF BROKEN TOYS Infidelity has its bright side. When their spouses ran off...WALTER SICKERT & THE ARMY OF BROKEN TOYS
Infidelity has its bright side. When their spouses ran off with each other, Walter Sickert and art-scene associate Edrie Edrie found solace in steamcrunk music.
“It’s either become an artist or a serial killer, and I’ve always thought the artist is a better choice,” says singer/guitarist Sickert, who channeled his dark emotions into songs that he shared with Edrie, sowing seeds for the Army of Broken Toys.
“People that joined the band are sort of outsiders in their own field,” Edrie says of the vaudevillian octet, whose members play instruments that include viola, ukulele, clarinet and stand-up bass. For her part, Edrie plays the accordion as well as toys like a boxed glockenspiel and a cymbal-clapping monkey.
A performance troupe called the Bunny Collaborative packs the audience with fire-eaters, human marionettes and burlesque dancers. “I’m constantly onstage going ‘Whoa!’ myself,” Edrie says. “I never know what’s going to happen.”
Sickert, who evokes Dr. John the Night Tripper with his feathered top hat, views the music as a complement to his twisted work as a visual artist: “If you’re going to come out to a show, it should be an art exhibit/carnival rather than people standing around.”
Unsurprisingly, the band’s weekly rehearsals can get as crazy as their shows. “It’s constant chaos,” Edrie says. “Basically it’s like a big family dinner where we end up with music as the dessert.”
Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys: Steam Ship Killers
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Fortunately for me, Walter Sickert and friends unveiled this record in 2010 instead of 1996, when it...Fortunately for me, Walter Sickert and friends unveiled this record in 2010 instead of 1996, when it would've terrified me into a coma. When I was 12, "Man That You Fear" by Marilyn Manson struck me as the most evil thing ever, and I considered my mother wise to forbid me to hear such wickedness.
Although most of the similarities between Sickert and Manson have nothing to do with music, my mom wouldn't approve of either, and my automatic reaction to Steam Ship recalls my pre-teen reaction to that particular Manson song. Sickert and the Toys broadcast the sound of hapless, doe-eyed innocence gazing into the abyss — which counterintuitively makes for highly enjoyable listening.
The sheer magnitude of Sickert and company's apocalypse folk appears to have mushroomed in proportion to their roster — formerly comprising just Sickert and Edrie Edrie, now something akin to a 15-player circus of doom. Sickert's ghostly howl puts an exclamation point on creeping, classical, string-heavy waltzes such as "Cataclysm" and "Sea Song (Mare Carmen)." Meanwhile, "Heroin Pig" may well be the most charming ballad of all time to include the words "heroin" and "pig" in the title.
Read more: http://thephoenix.com/boston/music/104322-steam-ship-killers-2010/#ixzz22P4D4xZe
Carnival Of Weird: A Guide To Boston’s Art Rock Scene
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Glitter. Stilts. A giant weather balloon. Venetian masks, bunny ears and ghosts. All of these made a...Glitter. Stilts. A giant weather balloon. Venetian masks, bunny ears and ghosts. All of these made appearances at a recent show at the Middle East Downstairs in Cambridge. It was a night featuring some of Boston’s most excitingly bizarre bands: Holiday Mountain, Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling (releasing their second EP, Questions Are a Burden to Others), Mighty Tiny (releasing their first full-length album, White Dog Rough Again), and Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys.
Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys (credit: Justin Moore/via band's Facebook page)
These four bands are among a growing sub-genre of rock where music is a dark and whimsical performance art, often incorporating elements of the circus, vaudeville, steampunk, and burlesque. From themed costumes and props to instrumentation well beyond the standard guitar-bass-drums, these bands are leading a carnival march against the mainstream, one accordion at a time.
And they’re not the only ones. Other bands making headway in this off-the-beaten-path form of rock include Jaggery, What Time Is It Mr. Fox?, Cirkestra, and Emperor Norton’s Stationary Marching Band. All of these acts put on shows oozing with creativity, strangeness, and an energy more intense than any stadium rock show I’ve seen.
While these bands tend to gain strong cult followings within their niche, it seems like outsiders are scared to come in. I firmly believe that those who express doubts about the Boston music scene aren’t pushing themselves hard enough as audience members and explorers. Go forth, Bostonians, and seek out the weird! We need more bands like these. Let’s make it happen.
Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys
This carnival-folk group also advanced to the ‘11 Rumble semi-finals, reinforcing the idea that Boston is ready for a little bit of craziness. Sometimes it’s easy to overlook the musical genius in the Army of Toys’ complex arrangements: there’s just too much eye candy. From burlesque performers and a man on stilts in the audience to glitter and balloons being thrown from stage, distractions are all around. The music, though, is dark and lovely and loud – well worth tearing your eyes away from the elaborate (and often revealing) costumes to focus your ears for a bit.
Rumble Update: Walter Sickert wins Night #2
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The Rock ‘n’ Roll continued last night at TT the Bear’s Place with performances from A Wish For Fire...The Rock ‘n’ Roll continued last night at TT the Bear’s Place with performances from A Wish For Fire, Tijuana Sweetheart and Full Body Anchor. In the end, however, it was Walter Sickert & the Army Of Broken Toys who rocked their way into the semifinal round by winning the second preliminary night.
Led by Walter Sicker (vocals, piano, guitar), The Army of Broken Toys includes Edrie (vocals, accordion, xylophone,), Rachel Jayson (viola, violin, cello), Kevin Corzett (clarinet, saxophone), JoJo the Burlesque Poetess (MC, Poet, Uke), Terrorence TJ Horn (drums), Meff (guitar, mandolin) and Mike Leggio (standup bass). The band earned a nomination for Live Artist of the Year at last year’s Boston Music Awards.
The Rumble will continue tonight with performances from Spirit Kid, John Powhida International Airport, Cult 45, The Autumn Hollow Band. Tickets are $9 and the show starts at 9 p.m.
The competition will break on Wednesday and then continue on Thursday through Saturday for the rest of preliminary round. Winners from each of the nights, along with two Wild Card selections, will move on to the semifinal rounds on April 14 and 15. Along with Walter Sickert & the Army Of Broken Toys, Jenny Dee & the Deelinquents (winners of Night #1) have also booked their spot in the semifinals. The finals will take place Friday, April 22.
Walter Sickert wins night two of the Rock 'n' Roll Rumble
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Walter Sickert wins night two of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble There is safety in numbers. And Walter Si...Walter Sickert wins night two of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble
There is safety in numbers. And Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys numbers nearly a dozen — the band is the Parliament-Funkadelic of baroque/cabaret/punk/folk/toy-based rock. And that is meant as high, high praise.
Sickert is second band to advance at the Rumble — Jenny Dee & the Deelinquents won Sunday night. Hopefully Tijuana Sweetheart nabbed a wild card spot. The Rumble continues tonight at T.T. the Bear’s. Anyone got any favorites for tonight?
Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys win New England Best of 2010 Poll!
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Fellow New Englanders, After a seizure inducing 2 months of polling and voting and number churnin...Fellow New Englanders,
After a seizure inducing 2 months of polling and voting and number churning and link pasting... HABEMUS POLL WINNER!
Congrats to our 2010 champions, the orchestral, rootsy punks Walter Sickert & the Amy of Broken Toys, who preceded classic rock heroes (and not exactly mellow) Mellow Bravo and alt rockers Sidewalk Driver. Here's a picture of that crazy army during a recent show... and here's the full list of our Best of New England 2010 Emerging Artists Poll:
Dark humor, raucous delights on soundtrack for dancing along abyss
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By now I should be deep in an obsession with the new album by The National, listening to it on iTune...By now I should be deep in an obsession with the new album by The National, listening to it on iTunes’ endless repeat whenever it’s not on endless repeat in my head. This is how I consume music.
But something else came along and pushed it down the playlist: “SteamShipKillers,” by Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys. With this full-length album not yet available online, the first chance to buy is June 4 at a CD release party at Club 939 in Boston.
Seize it! The show launches a monthlong tour with Jaggery, simultaneous with Humanwine touring until August, and that leaves the area bereft of its most addictive, immersive performers.
“SteamShipKillers” can help fill that void. It already has a hold on me. It’s the Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys album I’ve been waiting for — the one that, painstakingly produced by Lainey SchoolTree, comes closest to the rush of seeing the band live.
An eponymous download-only album from 2006 holds 13 tracks from which the band has largely moved on. “28 Seeds: The Last Radio Show” is a conceptual piece done for the RPM Challenge in which story detracts from the kind of live-show steam that leaves you sopping and grateful. The “Casualty Menagerie” EP from 2008 is too mournful. Even though four of the songs reappear on the new album, they are mingled with the raucous, chill-inducing, heart-stopping tunes that make the band’s performances so vital — such as “A Friend in Goddamn,” “Cataclysm” and “Off With Her Head” — and pleasantly menacing, addictively jaunty genre pieces such as “No Room” and “Hole in the Boat.”
“Time — she is out of time. Fate — it was meant to be this way,” Sickert roars in “Cataclysm,” before pounding out “Planet Killer” and “Pale Horse” (or crooning the album’s closest thing to a love song: “Heroin Pig”).
“Hole in the Boat” is perhaps the album’s jauntiest tune, but this waltz’s lyrics offer the good cheer of a wake:
President Lincoln in a theater thinkin’
Now he can never go home
Harry Houdini, he died on Halloween, he
Can never go home
There’s a hole in the boat and now we can never go home
JFK and Jesus Christ,
Now they can never go home
The little girl from “Poltergeist,”
Now she can never go home
There’s a hole in the boat and now we can never go home
This is all dark fun, attudinally aligned with the morbid humor Oingo Boingo used to show and its appropriation of the grinning skeletons of Dia de Los Muertos celebrations. It also makes for great listening and, at 13 songs and 46 minutes, a pretty satisfying experience. The stuff that remains missing, including the band’s thrilling sing-along cover of the “Ghostbusters” theme, may appear on a live album in October, but it’s also possible going to shows is the only way to get that final kick (which is not an unpleasant prospect).
Sickert writes the songs, which are performed by a band that can grow to a dozen or more members, some playing instruments, some spilling off the stage in performance art pieces and burlesque routines.
Throughout “SteamShipKillers,” you get healthy dollops of his signature humor, which is mischievous but — this especially comes through at shows, but tracks such as the animal experimentation protest “Revenge of the Rats” help make it clear — promises doom to the forces of intolerance and violence against the innocent.
It’s this combination of wit and strength, aided by an imposing physical presence, adoption of eccentric and appealing steampunkery and fearlessly booming voice, that makes Sickert so seductive. He’s a shaman whose cult embraces dancing into the abyss, or at least strutting around the edge for a while.
And now he’s given us the soundtrack.
The National will have to wait … maybe until it’s too late. But what a way to go.
Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys plays with Jaggery on June 4 at the Berklee College of Music’s Club 939, 939 Boylston St., Boston. Tickets are $10 in advance through TicketMaster or $12 at the door. For information, click here.
H.U.M.A.N.W.I.N.E.; Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys; Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling, and Sarah RabDAU at the Church of Boston – February 17, 2010
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A most unusual and extraordinary evening of carnival, cabaret and social commentary, the perfect mus...A most unusual and extraordinary evening of carnival, cabaret and social commentary, the perfect musical accompaniment to the controlled chaos that so often transpires inside my brain. Imagine a lifetime of scream-therapy; Cirque de Soleil, a tawdry Parisian brothel, and the Victorian Era; Dead Can Dance, an apocalyptic Hans Christian Anderson, and Democracy Now, stuffed into a dimly-lit hat box, and you’ll maybe come close to my experience seeing Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling; Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys; and H.U.M.A.N.W.I.N.E. at the Church of Boston Saturday night…
Sarah RabDAU & Self-Employed Assassins
photo by Whitney Wotkyns
It was with profound regret that I missed Sarah RabDAU’s set, as judging from her gorgeous vocals and lovely piano playing – and Matt Graber’s tasteful drum flourishes, it must have been quite beautiful. You can listen to her music on her official site, and there are links to purchase her self-titled debut album.
Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling
I arrived to Sophia Cacciola and Michael Epstein (The Motion Sick) of Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling exorcising demons in the most satisfying way imaginable. With her driving, pulverizing percussion and ‘hell hath no fury’ vocals, Sophia whips it up into a cathartic frenzy, and Mike adds an anxiously thumping heartbeat. I especially liked “Episode 9: A.B.and C.” (which will be on their forthcoming CD), the mesmerizing “Checkmate” (”Don’t follow me, don’t follow me, stay with me, walk with me…”), and a searing, pulverizing cover of Leonard Cohen’s “First We Take Manhattan”. They’ll be having a release party for their debut EP The New Number 2 on April 3 at Church.
Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys
My fascination for Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys began before they started playing. The 15 or so people who make up this bizarre gypsy caravan take to the stage and make their final preparations… a stand-up bass and classy-looking jazzman and his clarinet, two vaudevillian ladies on violas, someone in a bowtie and moustache with a guitar, dancing girls and a human marionette with her puppetmaster, the Victorian matriarch Edrie with her accordion and massive… presence. And Walter Sickert himself – on piano, guitar and vocals – presiding over the bawdy festivities like a bluesy shaman.
They begin with a song that includes the line “this is how we end ourselves” – incredibly gorgeous, with the violins in a delightful minimalist pizzicato accompaniment. It’s a startling beginning for such a complex and varied group, and incredibly effective. From this serene start, all hell breaks loose in delicious ways. Musically sophisticated and immensely talented, wildly unusual and diverse in material and presentation, a Dada-esque circus carnival run amuck, and just plain good ‘not-always-so-clean’ fun. A heartfelt rant in support of gay marriage was followed with a wonderfully subversive and crazy few bars of “Love and Marriage”. There was an insane cover of “Ghostbusters”. Edrie came to the front to instruct us all in our role as chorus for “Off With Her Head!” (which has to be experienced to be believed). A dramatic, churning maelstrom and vast musical ocean whose waves come crashing down, leaving one simply stunned.
They ended their (again, way too short) set with a truly astonishing version of “I Put A Spell On You”. A surreal experience that cannot be missed.
You can order a physical copy of their 2009 CD Casualty Menagerie (which includes a video for “Sacrilege”) from CD Baby or download it w/o the video from iTunes (where you can also get their 2007 self-titled release). They’ll have a new album out in Spring or early Summer. For now, you can download new tracks from Bandcamp and check out their official site.
Holly Brewer of H.U.M.A.N.W.I.N.E.
I was already knocked out once by H.U.M.A.N.W.I.N.E., at their recent performance at Cafe 939, so I’ll just say a few words. Gothic cabaret with a social conscience. Holly’s voice floats and soars, bites and taunts, questions and informs. She doesn’t just sing a song, she theatrically performs it, and is quite mesmerizing to watch. Visually, she conjures images of ancient storytellers telling their tales around a raging bonfire, long ago in distant lands.
Holly's traditional comic book recycling.
Their next show is at Somerville’s Center for the Arts At The Armory on March 6, and they’ll be doing a Tuesday residency in March at The Lizard Lounge. Definitely see them if you can.
Holly with their friend Joe on guitar.
The Army of Broken Toys Host Steam Crunk Lounge at Boston's First Night
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Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys are bringing a menagerie of musicians and performing artist...Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys are bringing a menagerie of musicians and performing artists to the Hynes Convention Center for ?Boston's First Night? celebration this year.
Edrie Edrie, who cofounded the Somerville-based Army of Broken Toys with Walter Sickert, said the group played a half-hour set to a packed house at last year's First Night celebration, but were asked to curate an entire night this time around.
"We're really lucky this year," she mused. "We did well enough that they asked us back."
Expect a number of artists to join the Toys in ringing in the New Year, all of whom fulfill the group's "'SteamCrunk' aesthetic," said Edrie. The night's lineup includes the ?Somerville Symphony Orkestar?, psychedelic surf band the ?Trabants?, and the self-dubbed "retrosexual, Jewy vaudeville" duo ??Meff n' jojo's Tiny Instrument Revue?, as well as magician/escape artist Dezrah The Strange and ?burlesque performance artists ?Johnny Blazes? and ?Madge of Honor, who hold the honor of bringing the oh-so-highbrow holiday show The Buttcracker to Boston this season. ?
In short, it’s what you could call an eclectic roster featuring the best and darkest of the Boston underground circus-burlesque scene.
Besides knowing the lineup, it's hard to know what else is in store for "The Steam Crunk Lounge" experience. The band is known for its carnival-like sets and spontaneity.
"Walter is extremely creative, and his music is really layered. So we strive to take the performance to sort of match the complexity of the music by adding in different performance artists," explained Edrie. "So we've had everything from glass walkers to sword swallowers, to people who work with fire, belly dancers, to jugglers."
Recently, the band has been performing with a group called the Bunny Collaborative—which started after Edrie found a number of rabbit masks at a thrift store. Since then, the troupe has multiplied (as rabbits do), and will appear, thirty strong on New Year's Eve, led by director, Helena Prezio.
"For our specific performance, I know the bunnies have been hard at work creating individual vignettes for each of the songs based on the theme of the new year," said Edrie. "So I think it will be pretty interesting, because we're even surprised. Sometimes on stage I'm really distracted…how did they get 300 balloons in here?"
Walter Sickert and Edrie Edrie founded the Army of Broken Toys just over a year and a half ago. The band's magic, aside from the unique sound and unconventional performances, comes largely from its genesis.
"We were both in different bands, with partners, and they both split town together at the same time," explained Sickert. "So we were like, 'Hey! Let's write a record about it."
While the Army of Broken Toys started out as a duo, over time, they've "hobbled" a band together said Sickert, drawing from musicians they knew before hand, to those they had never met.
"When we started we were two people and now we're eight musicians, and depending on how many performance artists we have with us, it's been up to what—20?" he said.
Edrie said she thinks the band's roots, which translate strongly into the music, are part of the reason why their sound resonates with the audience.
"I think it really goes back to the roots of the band, where Walter and I were like, this terrible thing happened to us, we're not really sure how to deal with these emotions, let's just talk about it with each other and create music around those feelings, and people really register with that."
Aside from making music, Edrie is also a writer, and Walter, a visual artist. You may recognize his work from the Somerville Arts Council's Art Beat Poster from earlier in the year, which he designed and illustrated.
In just a year and a half, the Army of Broken Toys have traded heartbreak, for success with a Boston Music Award nomination and West Coast and European Tours under their garter belts.
"Since then we have done just really bizarre crazy things that we're very proud of and that's the thing we're going to do more and more stuff that's bizarre and off the wall and over the world, and we couldn't' be happier about it," said Sickert.
Join the group from 8 – 11 p.m. for "The Steam Crunk Lounge" at the Hynes Convention Center on New Year's Eve. Doors open at 7:30. The Army of Broken Toys is set to perform at 10 p.m.
About this column: About Town is a daily column about what's going on around the city. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with tips, story ideas, suggestions or events!
Army of Broken Toys a study in broken hearts
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Walter Sickert and Edrie Edrie were playing with broken glass the night before the Herald visited Ed...Walter Sickert and Edrie Edrie were playing with broken glass the night before the Herald visited Edrie's Allston apartment.
"We put it in a bucket and stomped on it," she confessed, after serving a healthful snack of vegetables. "It made fun noises. We have some studio time tonight, so we were trying out different sounds to see what we liked."
There is a curious blend of mischief and morbidity in Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys, as the duo of Sickert and Edrie are called. They garnish their ominous doom-folk with the theatricality of a demonic circus troupe. Past performances have included storytellers, fire-eaters, glass-eaters, contortionists and, of course, Edrie's broken toy army.
Though she can play real instruments, she opts for an arsenal of gizmos that includes child-sized pianos, drums, cymbal-playing monkeys and rubber squeeze toys. Army of Broken Toys is possibly the only band ever whose name can be taken literally.
"It's not like other people haven't played with toys before," Edrie said, "but our special blend of toys against the juxtaposition of what the songs are about, I think, brings a lightness to things that could be dark."
Primary songwriter and vocalist Sickert met Edrie five years ago, when he joined a Cambridge artist collective that Edrie helped operate. In the tradition of personal catastrophe begetting good music, they didn't truly bond until their significant others ran off with each other two years ago.
"Once Walter and I felt comfortable talking to each other (about the situation), he sent me a song he had written about it," Edrie recalled. "As I was listening to it in my car, I started to sing harmony to it. So I called him on my cell phone. I had to pull over, 'cause I was crying and I sang. That's sort of how the band formed.
"Instead of hunting people down and killing them, really brutally, with hammers and screwdrivers, we made a record," Sickert added. "That was a lot better for us."
No doubt. Music is always more constructive than murder, and that proved doubly true for Sickert and Edrie. Since the Army of Broken Toys' inception, they've delighted and alarmed audiences across the world. With the finishing touches being put on a new EP, their horizon looks downright sunny. Surely, this will result in cheerful, upbeat, Mickey Mouse Club-style Army of Broken Toys songs.
Or perhaps not.
"I think that when that happens, we've probably jumped the shark," Sickert said. "When we're happy all the time, and there are no issues or problems in our life, what are we going to write about? I should pay the audience $100 an hour."
"Thank you for the therapy," Edrie quipped. "Goodnight."
Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys, with Martin Bisi, Black Fortress of Opium, What Time is It, and Mr. Fox, at the Middle East, Cambridge, Tuesday. Tickets: $8, 617-864-EAST.
Credit: By BARRY THOMPSON
Music for anyone who has ever been broken
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Open Mic, October 19, 2006 · The band Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys formed, members W...Open Mic, October 19, 2006 ·
The band Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys formed, members Walter Sickert and Edrie say, from the "turmoil and loss" that came after their spouses took a road trip together and never returned. Both Sickert and Edrie have been active in the New England scene for several years, performing in various Electronic, Goth, Metal and Experimental bands. The track "Sacrilege," from the band's self-titled CD, features their haunting, sometimes eerie, combination of vocals, instrumentation and noise.
Comparing their music to the melodies of Rasputina with the performances of Marilyn Manson and the presence of Johnny Cash, Walter Sickert's shows can range from loud with theatrical visuals to stripped-down acoustic sets. Framing the "violent forests" of their songs around love, betrayal and heartbreak, the band says their music is for anyone who has ever been broken.
Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys are touring throughout Massachusetts and New York City. Their music has appeared on international and American radio as well as in independent films and on television.
Walter Sickert the Madman of Sound
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Goth-folk group Walter Sickert the Army of Broken Toys is about performance art as much as it is mus...Goth-folk group Walter Sickert the Army of Broken Toys is about performance art as much as it is music. The band led by music madman Walter Sickert blends experimental and industrial noises for a sound that's something like Nine Inch Nails, horror movie soundtracks, and two radio stations that have their frequencies crossed. (Boston Globe january-9th-2007
Walter Sickert's Phantasmagorical Microcosm - Live Review
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WALTER SICKERT & THE ARMY OF BROKEN TOY Abbey Lounge, Somerville, MA 2/15/07 Edvard Munch said, “I...WALTER SICKERT & THE ARMY OF BROKEN TOY
Abbey Lounge, Somerville, MA 2/15/07
Edvard Munch said, “Illness and madness and death were the black angels that stood by my cradle.” These same black angels inhabit Walter’s phantasmagorical microcosm. Wearing a black top hat festooned with feathers, he’s Svengali with a palette of colorations-samples, radio static, and experimental electronics. The ethereal Edrie kneels on the stage surrounded by a beautiful, bizarre menagerie of toys including antique dolls, a parrot, a child’s phonograph, a wind-up cymbal-slapping monkey, and a miniature piano. Edrie is an absinthe-imbibing Snow White as employed in a Parisian brothel circa 1883—jet black hair adorned with a cardinal, alabaster skin, ruby lips, wearing beaded red gloves and reinventing the word décolletage. Sickert’s vocals are maniacal; Edrie's are soothing. Is this Walter’s dream come to life? Is Edrie dreaming or frozen in Walter’s dream? Either way, their performance confounds the mind as much as it delights the senses. (Nancy Neon) 2007
Holy damn, this is so good
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WALTER SICKERT & THE ARMY OF BROKEN TOYS Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys 13-song CD Holy...WALTER SICKERT & THE ARMY OF BROKEN TOYS
Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys
Holy damn, this is so good. This album confirms my belief that life can be hell. Feeling like Dante on a tour of the musical underworld, I was entranced by its dirge-like quality, Trent Reznor-inflected distortion vocals, and messages of pure human anguish, failure, despair, hate, death and humiliation. What level I was on I did quite not know… but as I ventured through the murky depth, my fears were only assuaged by more demonic, clattered wailing, horrific splendor tasted through my mute but undiscernibly open eardrums. Ghouls! Wraiths! The plight of all pain, of all broken dreams laid with the digital confines of the disc, showing me the squalor and pure magic that is this earthly life. After retreating in a way I cannot remember, I said to myself: if Jim Morrison is walking the afterworld, he surely must audition for this band. And I shall be the one to tell him to! (Mike Loce)
Nine-Inch-Nails-does-Goth folk ride
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notes on new releases Written by Jon Nolan Wednesday, 11 October 2006 Though you sho...notes on new releases
Written by Jon Nolan
Wednesday, 11 October 2006
Though you shouldn’t judge a book, or a CD, by its cover, the packaging on the eponymous release from the Allston, Mass., based Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys gives fair warning to those who would enter their musical world. A heavily mascara painted doll head stares out from the CD case. Its face is nearly obscured by a bunch of feathers, a rose, a brass key (glued to its forehead) and most noticeably, a squid. Yikes. Sickert’s maniacal vocals cut through the mayhem of “The Negative Hearts Society,” a song with an almost Middle Eastern or tribal rhythm. “You left my heart in pieces,” Sickert wails on the track. Even the dreamy ambient numbers like “Sacrilege” dip into more nightmarish territory as Sickert’s vocals, which are nearly always distorted, ebb and flow under the beauty. Ham radio static, reverb drenched piano, sinister synth line and Sickert’s sidekick Edrie’s creepy vocals make for a kind of Nine-Inch-Nails-does-Goth folk ride.
Soul-crushing Heartbreak Never Sounded so Good
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Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys assert their musical motif right from the opening crash and...Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys assert their musical motif right from the opening crash and jangle of track one, “The Negative Heart Society.” On this track a tribal drum groove punctuates strangled breathing and an echo-effected throat-tearing vocal repeatedly accusing “You left my heart in pieces!” If the musical clang and boom fail to portend the proper dark angst of this debut CD, then the lyrics certainly leave no doubt — this is an angry record. Taken as a whole, the 13 track CD is epic poetry exploring the black pit of human despair.
Much like Nick Cave’s 1996 Murder Ballads, Walter Sickert has totally immersed himself in the motif. Cave’s obsession was murder from many points of view, explicitly defined and horrific despite it’s beautiful execution (pun intended). The obsession gripping Walter Sickert & partner Edrie (a broken toy) is heartbreak. In a real life example of misery seeking company, Walter and Edrie sought solace together when their spouses ran off with each other. Left cold, there seemed no better way to purge the demons than to do it together, in musical form. And they don’t hold back one iota of raw emotion. On “Bone Slag,” Walter howls “Which way is up, which way is down, You slit my throat when you’re around, You cut my heart, You took my name, You made yourself fucking bone slag.” He delivers the final punch with “Once a hooker, always a whore.” It’s noisy, it’s challenging, it’s raw and evocative, and I wouldn’t want to be the target of that fury. “Bone Slag” is a stand-out, as is “Sister Inhalation” with its repeating advice to “Shut off all the things inside.” At its strangest, the Army of Toys delivers a choked cacophony in “Hell Holds,” made all the more disturbing against a backdrop of spunky cabaret music; the overall effect brings to mind the inimitable HUMANWINE and is therefore no bad thing.
Like other artists who throw an unapologetic spotlight on the ugliest elements of human existence, Walter Sickert will probably find most people shunning this record and a small devoted audience who adore it. Anchored as it is by throbbing piano, dreamy synths and echoing vocals, the overall sound is cohesive. Yet it avoids sounding samey and achieves awesome dynamics by perfect use of unexpected bursts of twisted electronics, crackling samples and chunky acoustic guitars. On songs like “The Long Wait” and “Slit Wrist Family,” the sweet cooing of Edrie is the perfect haunting echo to Walter’s murdererous howl. Soul-crushing heartbreak never sounded so good. (Lexi Kahn) 2007
A lesson in Dark Folk via a Gypsy Squid from 20,000 Leagues under the bed
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The art work is great in the jacket to begin with, th doll face under the cd scared me a bit An over...The art work is great in the jacket to begin with, th doll face under the cd scared me a bit An overly dark record with plenty to consume, i won;t get tired of this album. quite a progression from the early optic rose idustrialness to a dark rock masterpiece. Lets go right down the line NHS: Dancing around the fire of Agony, Percusion driven song fabulous. Sacrilege: Wait till you see this one live, holy F Batman, Melodic story of grotesqueness, Mystical VOX and Distant Dreamlike sounds. Lows: Did someone say Johnny Cash? Nope just a WS Acoustic melody, of beautiful minor tunes, and Edrie's Fallen Angel voice sending us to where we wanna go. La Divorce: Circusey melody, angry Vox and a Tamborine to carry us through this song, makes you wanna sway. Bone Slag: Haunting piano, Waltz? perhaps? ooh what a good song this is. "Once a hooker, always a whore" Sister Inhalation: Itunes says its called Crash our ships...but what does Itunes know? Acoustic melodies and layered walter, nice southern rock solo at the end, great song overall, not to mention the great multi Vocal melody at the end. The Long wait: A personal favorite, first heard it from the 28 days inside the squid record( good luck finding because you can't) Haunting piano Normal vox with a strangeness underneath them, seems sad, @ 2:32 short build up with a great climax, listen to this one loud and all the lights off. No More Fires: Keys from an old movie about hell and layered vocal tracks with a controlled chaos perfectly executed, nice organ outro at the end. Coldwireforest: SOunds like an old tangerine dream record meets .....well walter sickert i guess great song per usual. Shiny & New - another acoustic offering, taking some chord progression influences from johnny cash, and making them a sickert melody worthy of listen after listen. great compressed screaming at the end. Legs like snakes : a great song with a Burlesque melody and fun pitch shifting at the end. Slit Wrist Family: Haunting as usual, acoustic, great song. Hell Holds: great up beat melody to end the record. Its hard to talk about the hightlights of the LP when the whole album is its own Highlight, go see these guys play live if you get a chance... this is some of the best stuff in the area right now and should not be missed.
Brilliantly woven tapestry of madness music and lyrics.
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This album is brilliantly woven tapestry of madness music and lyrics. Each track stands on its own, ...This album is brilliantly woven tapestry of madness music and lyrics. Each track stands on its own, complete masterful and placed end to end they form something even more extraordinary. All I can say is sit down and listen.
An Interview about Equipment
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Not One but TWO yes 2 lovely write ups in Gearwire by the talented and tuneful Patrick Ogle Artic...Not One but TWO yes 2 lovely write ups in Gearwire by the talented and tuneful Patrick Ogle
Article # 1 - MicroKorg, Boss Dr. Sample 303, And A Priceless Alvarez Acoustic: A Chat With Walter Sickert And Edrie
Article #2 - Shure Beta 57A: Mic Technique For Oddball Instruments With Walter Sickert & The Army Of Broken Toys
Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys take Night 2 of the Rumble; Night 3 preliminaries tonight
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Last night, our own Jonathan Perry called it again -- sort of -- as his dark horse selection, Walter...Last night, our own Jonathan Perry called it again -- sort of -- as his dark horse selection, Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys, took Night 2 of the Rock & Roll Rumble at T.T. the Bear's. Videos are starting to surface of the magic (warning: explicit top hat w/feather content), but it's safe to say you'll want to catch the Army all up-close-and-personal-like in the semis (April 14 and 15 at T.T.'s).
And there's still plenty of time to polish up your proverbial brass knuckles and practice your sneer in the mirror before tonight's Rumble kicks off. Tonight's contenders include the rootsy gusto of the Autumn Hollow Band (9:00 p.m.), the rawk snarl of Cult 45 (9:45 p.m.), the "rock, disco, soul, pop fuzion entertainment unit" known as the Jon Powhida International Airport (10:30 p.m.) and the spirited smile-cracking pop of Spirit Kid (11:15 p.m.) After the jump, enjoy a little helping of each.
Bostonians of the Week: Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys
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Bostonist is introducing a new feature: Bostonian of the Week, in which we profile interesting figur...Bostonist is introducing a new feature: Bostonian of the Week, in which we profile interesting figures seen around town. Know someone we should feature? Email tips at bostonist dot com.
Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys have been all over the place lately. They were our Photo of the Day last week, are now our Bostonians of the Week, will be playing the Cantab Lounge soon, and are coming out with a new CD in September. Whew! The dark, carnival-folk group has a gorgeous website, intricate period costumes, a much-maligned penchant for (near) nudity, and of course an army of broken, dirty toys. An aesthetic experience as much as a visual one, the Army (consisting of Walter and Edrie) answered our questions in true gothic form.
Was (is) Walter Sickert really Jack the Ripper? How afraid should we be?
Walter: I can neither confirm nor deny the allegations bestowed upon myself, however, I will say, I have an abundant fondness for lister knives, top hats, over coats, garter belts, and tea kettles with hearts in them.
Who does your website art?
Edrie: The website is the brainchild of Walter. It's the WIREFOREST represented in the ethereal online form. The talented designer, film maker and artist Peggy Nelson brought the WIREFOREST to (second)life on the screen.
The work on the site is a part of a larger collection entitled "Almanac of the WIREFOREST" which chronicles the mysteries of the wiretooth animals who reside in this sacred and scarred place. One of Walter's pieces will be auctioned off for charity at Rock & Art and you'll also be able to see Walter's art in the solid at Gulu-Gulu Café in Salem MA starting in October.
Where do you get your toys? Are they already broken, or must you break them yourselves?
Walter: We are gifted most of our toys by various people and animals. My cat Taxidermy routinely dumpster dives for us.
Edrie: At first everything was from Walter's or my childhood but over the last couple of years people have brought gifts for us. For instance, when we were on the West Coast supporting the Tiger Lillies we received an old clown with a too happy smile, a lap harp, a music box that played a French folk tune and a brother to our drummer the Cymbal Clapping Monkey.
What is your favorite thing about Boston?
Walter: The writers, musicians and artists we've met through music.
Edrie: It really feels like a community, all supportive in that squishy-heart way that could be totally cheesy if it weren't so lovely. We feel lucky to have so much support.
Walter: If it weren't for the people, the price of living here would completely make you want to kill yourself.
If you could not be in Boston, where would you go?
Edrie: At this point we've traveled so many places as a band it's pretty hard to pick. Amsterdam stands out--we had some of the best shows we've done there. We're going back in October to open for Amanda Palmer on her solo tour. Seattle was also fantastic and I'd live there in a heartbeat. There is also that appeal of living totally away from people. I grew up on a farm in the middle of North Dakota and Walter grew up on the sea.
Walter: I'm still holding out for my own lighthouse and pet giant squid.
More with the Army after the jump!
Who are your favorite musicians--in general, and locally?
Walter: Kurt Cobain, Vashti Bunyan, Tiger Lillies, Bjork, Zoe Keating, Radiohead, Johnny Cash, Portishead, locally there so many but a few of my favorite slick crooners include Jaggery, What Time is it Mr Fox?, Dreamchild, Goli, Flutter Effect, jojo the burlesque poetess, Reverend Bob and the Darkness…
Edrie: I pretty much like anyone who has the balls to play an accordion or any other instrument thought of as nerdy by Bratz dolls and homophobes. I grew up right next to the Lawrence Welk homestead and learned to play accordion in a hayloft just like he did. I'm not sure our cows fully appreciated my polkas.
Why do you threaten the innocence/innocents of Boston with your nudity?
Edrie: Now listen all of you purportedly innocent bunnies. Hemlines have been above the ankles since the 1820s and darn it I wear more clothes during a show then 90% of 13 year olds wear to school on a regular basis. The men of Lowell may disagree, but seriously, a corset and frilly knickers is not exactly nude.
I'm always getting pushed around for my panties. We played a down town night club raising money for Autism. I will not name the club here but, at the past tense of feel, the manager came over and asked me to put on my skirt because there were 16 year olds there having a birthday party dinner. It was after our set and I refused very politely and we were not so politely asked to leave but before that each and every girl came and took her picture with us and bought a CD. My knickers raised a boatload of dough for charity!
Where can we catch you(r music) next? Any plans for public/outdoor performances?
Edrie: I'm taking most of August off for a little va-jay-jay vaca with my ladies [We may have to add a feature on va-jay-jay stay-cays--stay tuned! --Ed.]. But Walter has a solo gig on August 10th at All Asia and we just played a rockin' garden party in the south end which was hosted by the lovely group Jaggery at the Cloud Club. Our last summer gig is a guest spot in Salon Gone Wrong hosted by the Burlesque Poetess at the Fire House Theater. The next big thing is our autumn gesamtkunstwerk on the 26th and 27th of September at the Lily Pad. Two whole nights of shenanigans with Vermillion Lies, Emperor Norton's Stationary Marching band as well as contortionists, fire breathers, belly dancers, wirebunnies, poets and man eating lions. It will be a teddy bear tea party where we release our new EP Casualty Menagerie. There are a horde of extremely talented musicians who helped us put the EP together and it was produced by the erotically enchanting Lainey Schulbaum (Steamy Bohemians). And then we're on tour!
Walter: come one come all and celebrate the absurdity of conformity!
Bring an end to the limitations of expectations and be your own dirty snowflake!
You must act now, the world is ending. Let's Die Art!
We play 90% original music with a very select few covers that are made into our own.
Our typical set is 60 min but we can play anything from 20min to 4 hours
There are no upcoming dates at this time.