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Walter Sickert & The ARmy of BRoken Toys / Press

“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. ”

“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”

“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."”

“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.”

“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.”

“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.”

“Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys have been exciting and warping the artistic minded for the last several years. From the initial core of Walter and Edrie, their army has spread to encompass some of the finest artistic and musical minds in Boston. Their live shows have been epic and over the top, having toured with the Tiger Lillies, Amanda Palmer, Jaggery, and so many others. Most recently they performed at the Steam Punk World’s Fair, dazzling audiences with touches of burlesque and cabaret mixed with the imagery of Lewis Carroll and a Pythonesque sense of farce. The band is releasing their first full-length, Steamship Killers, featuring the current core of nearly a dozen musicians, replete with Walter’s exquisitely demented artwork and twisted songs of death and squids.”

“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.”

“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”

“It didn’t take long to realize this was to be a special evening. Cafe 939 was transformed into Boston’s own Coney Island boardwalk circa 1880, with curious characters (audience member or entertainer? hard to tell), signs hawking everything imaginable, a fortune teller, roving carnival workers handing out noisemakers and bubbles, and even a bake sale (proceeds to benefit TAOBT’s auto mishap). A Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys show isn’t an event; it’s a lifestyle.”

“The Army of Toys Sails Across a Sea of Heartbreak SteamShipKillers With their self-assigned “SteamCrunk,” Allston based Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys (or, if you’re feeling concise, the Army of Toys) brings a big, baroque sound that makes emotional desperation the stuff of epics and sea-chanteys. On SteamShipKillers, the arrangements are luscious, bringing to mind other modern practitioners of folk grandiosity, such as DeVotchka or Beirut, but with a decidedly dark edge—these are songs, almost exclusively, of heartbreak. Minor keys are used to their fullest here, but Walter Sickert’s wails manage to rise above the vast and wistful tide, his voice vacillating in turns between the sighs and resentfully spat curses of a jilted lover. “And she wanted you to stay, and she wanted a family,” he moans on the tightly wound “Planet Killer,” before his voice takes on a not-unexpected edge as he accuses, “and you broke her heart.””

“How best to describe what he and his band are essaying? Postmodern vaudeville? Hardly even close. Symphonic roots rock? Also not quite accurate. And his latest album further staggers description. Not simply because it’s a full-fledged radio play with music. And certainly not because the story-line is particularly novel—other artists have taken a dystopian apocalypse as their theme; see, in particular, Terry Gilliams’ film 12 Monkeys, and, especially, Antonin Artaud’s radio play There Is No More Firmament: On a busy street crowds of people witness the sky seeming to fall from the heavens, with light and darkness alternately becoming their environment. No: This album is a keeper because, even considered apart from their context, the songs are not only idiosyncratically gorgeous but often brilliantly splendid.”

“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. ... 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.”

“When Walter Sickert first signed up for the RPM Challenge during its inaugural year in 2006, they viewed it as an interesting opportunity to experiment with some new home recording techniques. “At the time it seemed like people were really focusing on studio work to get songs out there, but things were changing and home recording was so much better,” The band seized the opportunity, and they've never looked back. “We’ve used several different recording methods since then and all of them have allowed us to directly reach people with our music.” Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys, is now participating in its fifth consecutive RPM Challenge. Every February creating outlandish, mind-dazzling album art that last year included a working clock. Broken Toys have also developed an impressive career outside RPM. Sickert and Edrie have toured the nation and world. Their dark, experimental sound has garnered press, and they’ve been featured on NPR’s “All Songs Cons”

“Casualty Menagerie’ Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys In attempting to understand Walter Sickert’s music, one might benefit from looking at the influences listed on his MySpace page. There are popular musicians like Björk, Johnny Cash and Portishead, but the list also includes author William S. Burroughs, the movie “Hellraiser 2” and, perhaps most notably, infamous killer Jack the Ripper. (Walter Sickert, by the way, is also the name of a late British artist oft implicated as the true identity of Jack the Ripper.)”

“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.”

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