Swarming Branch
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Swarming Branch

Columbus, OH | Established. Jan 01, 2009 | INDIE | AFM

Columbus, OH | INDIE | AFM
Established on Jan, 2009
Band Folk Glam Rock


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Stream Swarming Branch Surreal Number"

“In mathematics, the surreal number system is an arithmetic continuum containing the real numbers as well as infinite and infinitesimal numbers, respectively larger or smaller in absolute value than any positive real number.” So explains Andrew Graham, who chose Surreal Number as the title for his band Swarming Branch’s latest full-length opus, the follow-up to 2013’s fantastic Classic Glass.

The Columbus musician has always brought an eclectic taste and an old-fashioned touch to his music, and this latest album — recorded in LA with Drinks/Kevin Morby/Peaking Lights producer Rob Barbato — reflects those tendencies. There are traces of ’70s studio-pop, quirky psych a la Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Tin Pan Alley, new wave, folk-rock, disco, lo-fi skuzz and so much more. And although Graham’s oblique lyrics and Dylanesque delivery remain Swarming Branch’s center of gravity, the passage of years and the band’s ever-shifting personnel ensure Surreal Number is a step out into the great unknown for band and listener alike. - Stereogum

"Song Premiere: Andrew Graham & Swarming Branch, "Rock and Roll #61""

The Artist: Andrew Graham & Swarming Branch

Who’s That?: Graham is a Columbus, Ohio-based singer-songwriter and the former frontman of punk outfit RTFO Bandwagon.

Fun Fact: Graham and his drummer, Sean Leary, have been playing together since middle school.

The Song: “Rock and Roll #61”

Sounds Like: A lollapalooza of chords and ideas; like David Bowie and Ween went out to lunch.

Author’s Notes: “‘Rock and Roll #61’ takes inspiration from turnarounds found in several songs, namely ‘Killer Queen’ and the Voidoids B-side ‘You’re Gonna Lose,’ and grows these snippets into a feeling of perpetual transition — it’s always on its way to the next chord,” Graham tells us. “The kids that the song talks about are just as antsy — they want to revolt somehow and they can’t figure out how. They try to revolt against their parents but their parents just diffuse the tension by giving them acceptance. And they can’t revolt against the cops because the stakes of that game are too high today. From a writing perspective, I feel like I worked this song until it went everywhere it could go. It visits all seven chords in the key of F#.” - American Songwriter

"Andrew Graham & Swarming Branch - Classic Glass LP"

Three years have passed since we last heard from Columbus songwriter Andrew Graham, who last showed up on Good Word, an exemplary and largely ignored LP for Mexican Summer – four if you count the length of time it took Graham and his band to write and record that effort. Four years would’ve been long enough for at least a dozen trends in music to crest and recede, even in the ‘70s or ‘80s. With the rate that things are moving these days, forget it. Think about the bands people were hyping up in 2009 and 2010. How many are still around? What do they mean to you today?
With Classic Glass, Graham and his roving band of players, Swarming Branch, have made an attempt to lodge their music firmly in time by holding onto earlier eras, including some of the waxed mustache variety that ought to make the eyes of any Still Single reader I’d be interested in knowing roll back then glaze over in disgust. But this isn’t some weird busking activity akin to trying on new personas in some sort of Baccalaureate Whitey attempt at self-discovery, even though Graham has almost fully transformed from the kind of musician and lyricist he donned in his previous endeavor, RTFO Bandwagon. Classic Glass successfully rolls up glam rock with Americana in ways that are addictive and inspired, and totally enjoyable. This is a significant effort that could get overlooked by all the affectation Graham places on his new style of singing – the “tonk” goes a little further than just the name of a label – or the parping horns, circus organ, and reams of platitudes spilling forth out of these songs. It might be too weird for some of you because it jumps almost completely out of modern contexts, but if you were ever looking for the bridge between Corky’s Debt To His Father, The Psychomodo, The Mekons and Paul Williams (and didn’t have to go looking up any of those before coming back to this page), Graham has you sorted out.
It’s mostly keyboardist Dane Terry’s show, spotlighting his deft fingers and all-around good judgment across the pianos and synths that burrow down into these songs’ bones. But Graham has the floor the whole time, spinning madness and wisdom about religious fervor, philosophies of the hopeful and gullible, chemically-induced sins, and the folly of doubters to this whole bizarre world he’s cooked up. My only complaint is that this work might’ve been better realized with a really strong ballad, the kind he wrote on his last record – if the tale he spins here needs anything, it’s a break from dangling the listener over the edge of zaniness the entire time. Despite all this,Classic Glassis one of the most traditionally ambitious records of this year, and the most successful at that kind of attempt. I’m sure some dickhead art schooler with a computer and a scrip for Ativan will go on to ignore history and try to make something that speaks to now and says very little, and everyone will call this person the new Nicolas Jaar, but think of how little that means now. Don’t miss out on the big ideas. Always look to the dark horse. (http://tonkrecords.bandcamp.com) (Doug Mosurock) - Dusted Magazine

"Music Made One Note at a Time"

RTFO Bandwagon’s Dums Will Survive was one of the standout releases of 2009, so it was disappointing to hear of the band’s dissolution. But it wasn’t long before lead songwriter Andrew Graham emerged with a new batch of songs—this time for the Mexican Summer label (Kurt Vile, Real Estate, Washed Out).
Graham is intentional with every aspect of his music, including this new group’s name: Andrew Graham & Swarming Branch. It’s different from a traditional band, he says. “Swarming” is a reference to the group’s membership, in that no one is “in” the band, but several people play under the umbrella. Also, each musician only plays one note at a time, no chords—not unlike a swarm of bees congregating on a honeyed branch, making a collective buzz.
“Branch” is supposed to serve as an alternative term for a band, “in the way that banks might have a branch in each town,” he says.
Interesting, right? “Interesting” certainly doesn’t guarantee a great album, but the experiment succeeds. On eight tracks (nine on vinyl) in about 30 minutes, Andrew Graham’s Good Word proves that Graham still excels at standing folk tropes on their heads and turning them inside out with just the hint of a smirk—not for the sake of being different, but as an extension of that singular vision.
As with Dums, Graham recorded this one at home, so there’s a similar DIY feel, but with greater clarity and more open space in the mixes thanks to the lack of chords. It may seem scattered at first, but part of the fun is picking out an instrument’s melody, then another’s, and then combining them as you listen.
Dane Terry—who also appeared on Dums, and who Graham says will be in all future live shows—shines again on piano. Just listen to his parlor-style runs on “Red Light Green Light.…”
Experimental composer/improviser Larry Marotta sets the tone on “Seasonal Delicacies,” which begins like a slow country ballad and becomes more psychedelic as Marotta’s pedal-steel morphs, eventually looping dreamily to outro the song. Lyrically, “Seasonal Delicacies” pays homage to Dylan’s “Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again.”
“Meatloaf at the Steakhouse” is old-school soul, which doesn’t really suit Graham’s voice and is usually better left to someone like Nick Tolford. Even so, it’s not a bad song, and Graham oozes such casual confidence that the record is no worse for its inclusion.
There’s more genre-jumping amid the swarm. “Take it Easy on Kathy, at Least She Can Dance” is Velvety krautrock with some beautiful, droning violin. Lindsay Ciulla’s mellophone gives “The Grindstone Kid” a nice bounce, and pay attention throughout to the inventive bass lines courtesy of Chris Burney (the Sun).
“I’ve got brand new jokes, it’s 2010,” Graham says on the closer, “Fenwick Island Update.” But Good Word is no joke. This Swarming Branch is the real thing.
Andrew Graham’s Good Word is available digitally now and will be available on vinyl soon. A release show will be held Friday (April 2) on the fifth floor of Skylab, 57 E. Gay St., with Michael Wall, Larry Marotta and Pelham Johnston. Doors at 9 p.m.; suggested $3 donation.
Graham says the show’s stripped-down lineup “will break the ‘one-note’ rule while maintaining fidelity to the overall spirit of the record.”
- Joel Oliphint
- The Other Paper

"Still Single reviews "Andrew Graham's Good Word""

Andrew Graham was last seen out as a member of RTFO Bandwagon, with one LP and single on Dull Knife that showed a lot of promise for a young singer-songwriter steeped in the ‘70s stackfiller of used record stores. A budding Randy Newman in training, Graham returns here with a retooled band, a thinner sound, but a more consistent one, even through the rock ‘n’ roll adventures they take us through. There’s a very strong understanding and reprocessing of the Velvets and antecedents, country swing and New Orleans blues, attention paid to British art-rock from Peter Hammill to the Fall, and innate musicianship and arranging skills that few know how to wield, let alone possess. I got kind of thrown by the circus vibe on the awkwardly-titled “Red Light Green Light is a Game for Schoolchildren and I Can’t Believe We’re Playing It Still,” but the tonk present is enough to satisfy a little whimsy here and there. I wish guys like Jack Nitzsche were still around to hear things like this, so that they’d know their work did not go on unanswered. Graham’s got songwriting talent, lyrics that poke the brain and touch the heart (the beleaguered narration on “Meatloaf at the Steakhouse” is a particularly strong example), and nods towards all sorts of head music, as in the extended, motorik ending of “Take It Easy on Kathy, At Least She Can Dance”). While performing with a tenth of the drama reached on Harangue’s excellent 12” from earlier this year, both bands drank from the same well, and it’s a great thing to know that Graham is out there, along with other insanely-underappreciated rock randos like the Dirty Faces, Viva L’American Death Ray Music, Andre Ethier, and Dimples, balancing the stoned/trashed/poetic xi just so. He seems to be on the other side of the tracks in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio … where is the unity. - Doug Mosurock - Still Single


Swarming Branch:                                                                                                               May 2017 - Surreal Number LP/CD/digital                                                                                April 2017 - "21st Century Attention Span" single                                                                      2013 - "Rock and Roll #61" 10" single                                                                              2013 - Classic Glass LP                                                                                                     2010 - Andrew Graham's Good Word LP

Albums by Andrew Graham w/ RTFO Bandwagon:
2009 - Dums Will Survive LP                                                                                                2009 - "Like A Dan Shearer Over Troubled Water" Cassette                                             2008 - New Jack 7" EP                                                                                                        2007 - Flagships CD

Andrew Graham Solo Albums:
2004 - Green Beans & Pink Lemonade CD
2004 - Dead Melodies CD



Swarming Branch is a band engaged in three seemingly disparate pursuits: elaborating folk music’s four-chord strum with complex extensions and substitutions, winking at the theater of glam rock from dive bar stages around the country without causing the cynics to spray beer out of their nostrils, and inviting the droning, unbridled tendencies of modal jazz to gradually displace rock and roll’s typical pentatonic shapes. You could say they aspire to become the modern Midwestern Steely Dan, even if they’ve only demonstrated a portion of the elder group’s range thus far.

The band's name is a reference to both the nature of its membership, which is intentionally and perpetually in flux, and its sound, which features densely worded slant rhyme over intertwining, capricious, often improvised melodies. And while the group is based in Columbus, OH, it’s likely that none of its contributors are inside the 614 area code at this moment. Songwriter Andrew Graham installs art exhibitions between spells of working with Swarming Branch. And if times are lean, he just might hang new drywall in your dining room.  Drummer Lon Leary, the only other permanent fixture of the group, splits time between waiting tables in North Carolina’s High Country and camping out in his late-80’s Toyota Van. Though pianist Dane Terry has graced every Swarming Branch recording thus far with his extraterrestrial keyboard stylings, he has seldom appeared live with the group since relocating to New York, where his 2015 musical theatre production Bird In The House earned him the prestigious Ethyl Eichelberger Award.

 On Surreal Number, Swarming Branch’s newest LP on SofaBurn Records, the group has temporarily suspended some of its formal experimentation to create a straightforward collection of ten songs. The album was conceived with the help of a Los Angeles team comprised of engineer Drew Fischer and producer Rob Barbato  (Drinks, Kevin Morby, Peaking Lights, et al) and shows the Branch finding a thicker, synthesized, and more neatly arranged sound while keeping a playful yet assertive spirit that makes every song seem both unlikely and inevitable.