About The Swayback
By now, you’ve probably heard of The Swayback. They’ve been voted Denver’s best rock band three years in a row by the readers of the Denver Westword. Their songs play regularly on the hit USA show Burn Notice. They’ve been featured in Spin, they’ve shared stages with Gang Of Four, Girls, Portugal the Man, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Stone Temple Pilots to name a few. Last summer they even played at Red Rocks. Not bad for a quartet of Denver punks that are collectively one part avant garde art project and one part grimy excuse to lurk around in creepy places and do questionable things.
The Swayback’s new record, Double Four Time is apparently named after a fictional dive where the patrons dance to some pretty weird music. And if the tracks on the album are any indication of the playlist at the Double Four Time, they have eclectic tastes indeed. It’s not classic rock exactly. It’s not punk. It’s not psychedelic. It’s got a hips swinging blues deal going on, but it’s not blues. It’s too unabashed and swaggery to be called hipster music or indie rock but if you were sitting around, sniffing glue and attempting to describe The Swayback’s sound on Double Four Time to your buddy and you used any of the above words, you wouldn’t be totally wrong.
The first, weirdly accurate antecedent that comes to mind is Mudhoney if they were into the kinds of drugs that warlocks do, heavy guitars and other dark, dark things, though that’s not entirely right because The Swayback is way more indebted to bombastic 70’s rock n roll than Mudhoney ever was. Let’s try something else here. Think Morrisey with a giant nutsack fucked up on some kind of cough suppressant and obsessed with thick, goopy sounds, channeling the bombast of the Cult on a great day or Danzig after a particularly sweet morning at home with his kittens listening to the Stones. Vocalist and bassist Eric Halborg’s voice has been called ‘vampiric’ before, and that’s still the case on Double Four Time. Carl Sorensen’s drums pound frantically then pull back to the point of almost vanishing, complimenting Bill Murphy and Adam Tymn’s guitar work, which is alternately restrained and batshit crazy, slopping up the place with licks that sound like they’d get your sister pregnant from the next room over one minute and then tastefully accenting a laid back, ambient mood the next.
In fact, the entire Double Four Time world somehow hearkens back to a more dangerous, bygone era of rock and roll while still having one foot squarely planted in the future. Maybe that’s because some of the record was recorded and produced by Andy Johns (the dude that recorded fucking Exile on Main street and all the Zeppelin albums after 1, for fucks sake!) and some of it was done with Jason Livermore at Black Flag/Decendents drummer Bill Stevenson's Blasting Room (Rise Against , Lemonheads, Gaslight Anthem). It’s a dash from the old school and a sprinkle of the new school. The results are some pretty assured back and forths through time and style that would make Doc Brown shit his pants.
All in all, the Double Four Time seems to be a spot where four pretty out-there dudes lurk around and spin creepy yarns about death and love and the death of love in a fragmented style with just enough disparate influence to be fresh without being schizophrenic or grating. Ten years in, The Swayback remains an uncompromising band that’s not afraid to be uncool or exasperating in their delivery, and that’s precisely what makes them such a breath of fresh air in these smoky hallowed halls of hipster perfection and meticulously planned sloppiness.
Though The Swayback dudes wouldn’t ever say this themselves, in Double Four Time, they’ve made the Rosetta stone of a record that effortlessly joins classic rock, sludge, punk and indie into a monolithic Voltron of an album that will have your weird uncle and your hip little shithead nephew finally agreeing on something for a change.
So when you see The Swayback on the road in support of Double Four Time, come out, take a couple of shots of Robutussin, melt in and enjoy the ride. In the words of The Swayback “if you wanna lick the master clean, get yourself down to Double Four Time, queen.”
Yeah, I don’t know. That’s really what it says.