Sway (album)

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Sway
Studio album by Blue October
Released August 20, 2013
Recorded February - April, 2013
Genre Alternative rock
Post-grunge
Indie Rock
Ambient
Dream Pop
Length 55:57
Label Up/Down Records
Blue October chronology
Any Man in America
(2011)
'''Sway'''
(2013)
Singles from Sway
  1. "Bleed Out"
    Released: August 2013
  2. "Angels in Everything"
    Released: December 6, 2013
  3. "Sway"
    Released: February 11, 2014
  4. "Fear"
    Released: September 22, 2014
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[1]
Melodic 4/5 stars[2]
Pop Bitez 5/5 stars[3]
Playback: Stl B- [4]
InsiteAustin (favorable)[5]

Sway is the seventh studio album by Blue October.[6] It was recorded at Fire Station Studio in San Marcos, Texas with co-producer David Castell in February and March 2013.[7] Additional recording sessions for strings and vocal overdubs took place at Test Tube Audio in Austin, Texas in April 2013, and the album was mixed at Studio 62 in Austin by Tim Palmer between May and July 2013. Production credit for the album is shared between Justin Furstenfeld, David Castell and Tim Palmer.[8] Castell previously produced Blue October's album History For Sale and co-produced Foiled, while Palmer produced the band's album Any Man in America and mixed History for Sale. The first single from the album, "Bleed Out" impacted radio on June 6, 2013 and became available for sale at digital outlets on June 25. A music video for the single was filmed in Dallas, Texas on June 15 with director Norry Niven. "Bleed Out" was a top 25 single on the Billboard alternative radio chart. The song "Angels in Everything" was released as a single in Germany, and to date has reached number 25 on the radio charts. The albums title track, "Sway" was released to radio as the third single on February 11, 2014 and a video, directed by Bongani Mlambo was released April 23, 2014. The album debuted at #13 on the Billboard Top 200, #1 on the Billboard Alternative Albums, #2 on the Billboard Independent Albums, #3 on the Billboard Top Rock Albums, #10 on the Billboard Digital Albums, and #8 on iTunes. The album was rated the 2nd best album of 2013 (in a tie with David Bowie's The Next Day) by German music magazine Kulturnews. Sway also won Reader’s Choice for Best Album in the Austin Music Blogger Awards.[9]

The band financed the production of the album through a PledgeMusic campaign which they began on April 2, 2013. The project reached its goal on April 5, 2013, and as of August 14 has reached 263 percent of the goal and received 4,252 pledges. To raise money for the campaign, the band offered such items as music lessons, signed instruments, exclusive artwork, spots in a music video, and concert tickets for life. Five percent of the proceeds were donated to the MusicCares Foundation.[10]

Like Blue October's previous album, Any Man in America, Sway was released on the band's independent label Up/Down Records. North American distribution is through Megaforce Records, one of Sony Red's indies, with European distribution by Membran Records.[11] Like the band's two previous albums, Sway was released on vinyl in addition to digital download and CD format.

Album title and artwork[edit]

The album's cover art was created by Justin Furstenfeld and Brad Bonds and depicts four white roses symbolizing the four members of the band who were principally involved in the recording of the album (fifth member, Guitarist C.B. Hudson, had left the band in 2010, but returned after Julian Mandrake parted with the band. C.B. will be joining the band to tour the album.) According to Justin, Sway represents the band's current outlook on life, and he wanted to keep the artwork simple to represent a simplification of life. The word "Sway" is also symbolic of the four band members, as the word has four letters. Keeping with the simplification theme, the band wanted to give the album a short one-word title, and "Sway" also fit because listening to the music made them want to dance. At one point the album was to be titled "Hard Candy", but that title was rejected after Justin's wife informed him that Madonna and Counting Crows had already released albums with that title. "Debris" was also considered as a title, but was dismissed following the 2013 Moore tornado.[12] Debris was used for the title of the acoustic EP which accompanied the album.

Track listing[edit]

Justin Furstenfeld wrote approximately sixty songs, which were narrowed down to fifteen that the band recorded; twelve of which will appear on the album. A thirteenth song, "To Be" came out of the recording sessions and was included on the album. "To Be" is an instrumental track that was created by playing back a slowed down recording of the strings from the song "Fear".[13] Several songs that didn't make it on the album that were to be included were "Snow Globe," "Keep On" and "Still Broken." One track, "Sorry Hearts," which was included on the accompanying EP, Debris, is an old 5591 song.

"Light You Up" was premiered at a concert on September 21, 2012. "Not Broken Anymore" was played as the final song each night on Furstenfeld's solo Open Book tour in April and May 2013. The song length's were released from iTunes on July 16 but there were no new track releases other than "Bleed Out". On August 10, 2013 several radio stations streamed every song from the album on their websites, accompanied with commentary by Justin Furstenfeld.

An EP of acoustic versions entitled Debris was also available to fans who participated in the PledgeMusic campaign. The EP consisted of five songs from the album plus the bonus track "Sorry Hearts" mentioned above.

All lyrics written by Justin Furstenfeld

No. Title Music Length
1. "Breathe, It's Over"   Justin Furstenfeld, Matt Noveskey 1:14
2. "Sway"   Justin Furstenfeld 4:47
3. "Angels in Everything"   Justin Furstenfeld 4:25
4. "Bleed Out"   Jeremy Raby, Christopher Lindsey, Mark L Holman, David Castell 3:52
5. "Debris"   Justin Furstenfeld 6:41
6. "Fear"   Justin Furstenfeld, Blue Miller 5:19
7. "Things We Don't Know About"   Justin Furstenfeld, Matt Noveskey 4:22
8. "Hard Candy"   Justin Furstenfeld, Julian Mandrake 4:18
9. "Put It In"   Jeremy Furstenfeld, Matt Noveskey 4:21
10. "Light You Up"   Justin Furstenfeld 4:21
11. "Things We Do At Night"   Justin Furstenfeld 4:56
12. "Not Broken Anymore"   Justin Furstenfeld, Christopher Lindsey, David Castell 4:29
13. "To Be"   Justin Furstenfeld 3:15
Total length:
55:57

Reception[edit]

Sway was met with positive reviews. Johan Wippsson of Melodic said: " It feels to me like the band really sat down and thought about what they stand for and what made them great. The band has really got back to their roots here and delivers an album in the same class as Foiled. It is quieter than before, but the atmosphere and the composition of the songs is brilliant like a beautiful autumn day." He gave the album a score of 4 out of 5. Another critic writing for Popbitez said, "At a time when many of their contemporaries have either disbanded or resigned themselves to regurgitating past glories, Blue October have raised their bar and all but reinvented themselves." The album was rated 5 out of 5 after being described as "a personal best" for the band.

Allmusic gave the album a score of 3 out of 5 and said that the songs on the album result "in what...represents [Blue October's] most accessible, immediate, and growth-oriented collection of songs to date."

Playback: STL, InsiteAustin, Ultimate Guitar and Sputnik Music also gave the album favorable reviews.

Personnel[edit]

  • David Castell - producer, mixing, engineering
  • Justin Furstenfeld – vocals, guitar, programming, sleeve art, producer
  • C.B. Hudson - guitar
  • Kevin Butler - engineering, mixing, guitar
  • Matt Noveskey – guitar, bass, vocals
  • Jeremy Furstenfeld – drums, percussion, vocals
  • Ryan Delahoussaye - violin, keyboard, synthesizer, mandolin, vocals, string arrangements
  • Steve Schiltz of Longwave - guitar
  • Ashleigh Stone - vocals, piano
  • Steve Bernal - cello
  • Brad Bonds - sleeve art
  • Tim Palmer - mixing, production, guitar, vocals
  • Eric Holtz - assistant engineer
  • Laura Villalobos - assistant engineer
  • Brandon Smith - digital editing and programming
  • Zayra Alvarez - photography

References[edit]

  1. ^ James Christopher Monger. "Sway - Blue October". Allmusic. 
  2. ^ Johan Wippsson. "Blue October - Sway". Melodic. 
  3. ^ Scott Hopkins (2013-08-25). "Album Review: Sway- Blue October". Pop Bitez. 
  4. ^ Alex Wilking (2013-11-12). "Blue October : Sway (Up/Down-Brando Records)". Playback: Stl. 
  5. ^ Sean Claes (2013-11-27). "CD REVIEWS: Blue October & A Good Rogering". 
  6. ^ Brooke (2013-05-28). "Blue October Announce New Album ‘Sway’". Infectious Magazine. 
  7. ^ Johnny Price (2012-10-09). "Interview: Justin Furstenfeld of 'Blue October'". Rock Revolt Magazine. 
  8. ^ Jeff McQ (2013-08-08). "The Mimo Interview: Blue October". Music Is My Oxygen Weekly. 
  9. ^ "Austin Music People – 2013 AMBA/AMP Award Winners". Austin Music People. 2014-02-27. 
  10. ^ Nuno Saque Ferreira (2013-08-06). "Blue October releases new album". AltSounds. 
  11. ^ Nuno Saque Ferreira (2013-08-06). "Blue October releases new album". AltSounds. 
  12. ^ "‘Sway’ With Blue October". Pollstar. 2013-08-16. 
  13. ^ "Blue October Announce New Album and Tour". antimusic.com. 2013-06-14.