Walter Sickert & The ARmy of BRoken TOys have a few traits that I sometimes frown upon, more to my own undoing than anything else. The dual capital letters in ARmy of BRoken TOys bugs me; I’m one for proper capitalization, spelling and punctuation, and it just reminds me a bit too much of the people WhO wRiTe LiKe ThIs. Second is Mr. Sickert’s dreadlocks. The things just creep me out — on anyone. Then again, he does have a somewhat George Clinton vibe going, which is a plus on the appearance side.
Beyond those two minute pet peeves is a band filled with talent, and it just took a little extra time for me to get over the personal annoyances and see it. The band also sent me their album on a sweet piece of wax, which is a big plus. (Disclaimer: Their sending me that has nothing to do with my opinion of the band in this post, nor the fact that I’m writing about them in the first place.)
First and foremost is their opening track “Devil in the Details”, and that’s likely where I’ll be spending the majority of my time. With a vibe that meshes a Devotchka-style of rock, adorned with color, dark-ish instrumentation and theatrics, Sickert and his ARmy bring forth something quite mighty.
From the band’s bio/album overview:
The name of the band came to Walter in a dream. He had been living in a haunted barn in the woods of New Hampshire and would often record very late at night. During one of these sessions on a mid-winterâ€™s eve, he fell asleep curled under a pile of broken porcelain dolls. The dolls kept him warm and infiltrated his dream, marching as a musical army and finishing the recording he was working on, much like the elves in the tale of the shoemaker. Upon waking Walter realized that the song he had been working on was indeed finished and embarked on a journey to find real life broken toys to join him in his musical alchemy.
It seems a bit bizarre, but philosophically, we all have our own skewed realities and I like to think that of Mr. Sickert is pretty damn special. It takes a great mind to craft your own world, and while there are many such minds out there, only select ones can breed that into insurmountable creativity. Within his ARmy are “a troop of thirty-six performance artists who bring contortion, burlesque, and aerial performance to The ARmy of BRoken TOysâ€™ arsenal.”
You get a minor glimpse of this in that opening track, “Devil in the Details”. There’s the sense that what’s lurking within is much greater than that which you can hear; a hint that you’re missing a few senses… that which you can see and feel (and perhaps even smell). There is some really great stuff in here, and I feel that with their recorded work, we’re just scratching the surface.
The LP is called Soft Time Traveler and you can find it now on The ARmy of BRoken TOys website.