Broken Things | Swim to the River

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Swim to the River

by Broken Things

Dark & bright soundtracks that recall artists from Led Zeppelin to John Coltrane: A cinematic mix of indie rock & free jazz.
Genre: Jazz: Jazz-Rock
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Doll Mountain Rag
6:17 $0.99
2. Broken Things
7:57 $0.99
3. 1919 Molasses Tragedy
6:52 $0.99
4. Water's Edge
7:00 $0.99
5. Keep a Secret
6:46 $0.99
6. The Reservoir
6:10 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Broken Things came together from the indie rock, free jazz/improv and folk scenes of Chicago, with guitarist Bill MacKay’s songs anchoring the band’s exploratory journeys.

Swim to the River is their debut recording, and the 2nd disc to feature cover art by MacKay. It is an independent release being promoted by Michael Siniscalchi who formerly handled marketing and promotion at Delmark Records.

Bill MacKay, guitar + songs
Greg Ward, alto saxophone
Todd Hill, bass on tracks 2,3,6
Tim Daisy, drums
Jason Ajemian, bass on tracks 1,4,5

Bill MacKay (Darts & Arrows, Bud Melvin)
Greg Ward (Occidental Bros, Jeff Parker)
Todd Hill (Cougar)
Tim Daisy (Vandermark 5, Triage)
Jason Ajemian (Rob Mazurek, Who cares how long you sink,

ART MISSION This music hits on a mixed network of themes: cinematic, poetic, and political | We jam together the forms that feed us at the root, as simply and directly as we can | If an eternal mission of art is to fragment reality, we're all for it | We’re all partly broken | may the shards of that damage… sing!

Pittsburgh has more bridges than any other city in America. Visions of these and their neighbors - the valley-cutting rivers of the city - was one inspiration in MacKay’s early songs. The Oakland neighborhood was another: a refuge from the conformity& alienation of school, allowing access to two items of interest: punks and the Pittsburgh playhouse, a legendary movie house showing a different movie every night.



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WNUR 89.3 FM Announcement

Broken Things on AIRPLAY SHOW
Tune in this week for a live in-studio performance from Broken Things. Chicago quartet Broken Things, led by guitarist Bill MacKay, combines elements of jazz and rock music with downright hummable melodies to make songs that sound familiar even though you're hearing them for the very first time. Instrumental pop music--if such a thing can exist--is rare to hear played live, and played well, rarer still, but MacKay's compositions are much more nuanced than your typical jamband. Joining MacKay for this set will be Greg Ward (sax), Todd Hill (bass), and Joshua Manchester (drums). Check out Broken Things' newest release called "Swim to the River" on CDBaby.

The WNUR Airplay Show specializes in live in-studio performances and airs every Saturday 4pm to 7pm Chicago time. Listen to us in Chicago on 89.3 FM or via the WNUR webstreams.

Mark F. Turner

Swim to the River
Broken Things | Self Produced

By Mark F. Turner
Whether your daily travels consist of trails through a sprawling metropolis or remote terrains, Swim To The River has the spirit of being on the “open range,” with elements of rural and earthy soundscapes. These trails however, are denoted not only with the feel of the outback, but also folk, rock, free jazz, and accessible melodies performed by the Chicago-based group Broken Things.

Led by guitarist Bill MacKay, the group formerly known as Sounds of Now (Self Produced, 2005) continues to evolve. Whiles things seem more focused and lyrical there’s also more of what keeps them interesting: the ability to not sound like a jazz group as they cultivate their own music. Seemingly drawing inspiration from influences ranging from pianist Alice Coltrane to rockers Led Zeppelin, they succeed in avoiding being defined by any particular genre.

There are good harmonies from the two front voices of MacKay and saxophonist Greg Ward, and taut support from drummer Tim Daisy and bassists Jason Ajemian and Todd Hill, who split bass duties on the six tracks. “Doll Mountain Rag” has a familiar Midwestern flair, while the “Broken Things” slowly emerges, informed of both roots and rock music as MacKay delivers a nice chorded solo.

From south of the border comes the “1919 Molasses Tragedy,” an interesting tune with good interaction and rich instrument timbres. Next is a favorite called “Water’s Edge,” containing a darker theme, free solos, and an ending that literally slays--with an Ozzy Osborn/Metallica head-banging riff and Ward delivering another hot solo.

“Keep A Secret” is an upbeat piece that takes off and soars, while “The Reservoir” sinks to the bottom, then gets down and dirty with a nice blues groove. The road to success for many musicians is paved with good intentions (and not enough originality) and it's cool that Bill MacKay and Broken Things are following their own path.

Track Listing: Doll Mountain Rag; Broken Things; 1919 Molasses Tragedy; Water's Edge; Keep a Secret; The Reservoir.

Personnel: Bill MacKay: guitars; Greg Ward: alto saxophone; Todd Hill: bass (2, 3, 6); Tim Daisy: drums; Jason Ajemian: bass: (1, 4, 5).

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