Since 2003, Jon Miller and Em Brownlowe have been carving out a niche and a sound uniquely suited to their Swallows project. Combining sparse instrumentals with Northwest post-punk influence, the duo have graced stages around the nation and supported legends such as Team Dresch. With a consistent output of recordings notable for Miller’s skittery drums and Brownlowe’s mesmerizing rhythmic guitars and strong, resonant voice, Swallows are a tireless act that continues to hone their craft while currently working on their first full-length recording since 2007’s Loud Machines. – Maranda Bish, Portland Mercury
Swallows enter the new decade with a collection of songs entitled, Between The Sea And Sky. Recorded and engineered by Kipp Crawford, the eight-song collection showcases the duo at the height of their dynamic sonic connection.
Notably Swallows’ most lyric-centric album, Between The Sea And Sky graces themes and stories told through an array of rock sub-genres. Opening track, “The Lighthouse” is a fictional account starring a queer sea-bound protagonist searching for his true light. Later on, the emotionally restless come to terms with the inevitable uncertainty and compromise of romance in “La Sirenita” – a monologue coming from the perspective of a mermaid with a landlocked lover. Rebellion and the call for social change is sounded off with “When They Come To Us”, a propulsive tribal anthem demanding people to come together to resist systems of oppression and personal invasion.
Musically, Swallows combine the shifty, time signature defiance of their past works with a grounded sense of establishment and instrumental minimalism. Brownlowe and Miller keep true to their roots as a post-punk drum vs. guitar battleground, and have been compared to early Throwing Muses, Sonic Youth and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Beauty in simplicity is found on “The Bay”, a sparse pop gem reminiscent of You Are Free era Cat Power. Conversely, on the album’s most complex song, “Aurora”, Swallows seem to trip out on a psychedelic, klezmer-punk infusion that channels the lyrical spontaneity of Patti Smith’s Radio Ethiopia era and sure to arouse listeners who embrace technicality and sonic mayhem.
"Between the Sea and Sky is a surprisingly rich-sounding album, with the band's elastic Electrelane-like grooves shifting seamlessly into knottier riffing and prog-rock complexity." - Portland Mercury
"Portland's Swallows—purveyors of jangly, spiraling guitar progressions that remind of Television and Rainer Maria, albeit laced with a distinct riot grrrl edge. The duo's latest effort, Between the Sea and Sky, throws back to the cassette tape era with a playful lo-fi aesthetic that never feels cutesy or forced." - Willamette Week
"On the album's anthem, "When They Come to Us," vocalist Em Brownlowe holds an even tone and sings carefully over a bed of toms, "When they come for us they'll come to our door / And they'll peek inside / And all they'll find is love." Brownlowe, 25, and drummer Jon Miller, 27, who both identify as "queer," explain the song is a reaction to legislation against same-sex marriages. But had they said it was about Tibet or the Spanish Inquisition, that would have been believable, too. The song's simple lyrics and melody make it universal and subtle -- qualities of most good protest songs -- and the fact that it draws its strength from the humble confidence afforded only to those who are right in any struggle makes it beautiful." - Jason Simms, The Oregonian
"Their new work demonstrate a mastery of controlled intensity, with compositions meditating on a modality and building in force and intricacy into bold poetic landscapes." - Crappy Indie Music Blog
The Lighthouse : Once was a man with a heart so dim. He took to the sea to find a light again. At night he sails dark sky following bright lines. Upon the land a watchman waits. As time ticks he sleeps through the day. At night he shines a light. Hoping love will cut through so bright. Love will cut the night. Love will come tonight. As the wind blows the sea flows. And the wind moans. There is a thin blue line between the sea and sky. There is a thin red line between the heart and mind
The Bay : Wash it all away. Wash it all away. Down in the bay. Wash it all away. Into the tide until red bleeds white. I know, I know, I know how to swim
La Sirenita : Every time I close my eyes I think I'm falling. Every time I close my eyes I think I'm fading. Every time I close my eyes I think I lost you. Every time I close my eyes I think I'm falling. I think I'm slipping away. Every time I see her face I think I love her. Every time I close my eyes I think I'm falling. Every time I close my eyes I think I'm faded. Every time I close my eyes I think I've lost you. I think I felt you slipping away. You can't be it all. I don't mind. It's real against the sunset. Baby, it's real against the sunset. Maybe it's real because you were real
When They Come To Us : When they come to us they'll come in masses. When they come to us they'll come to our door and they'll peak inside and all they'll find is love. When they come to us they'll come in masses. When they come to us they'll come in through the night. So we must unite so we can fight with our love.
The Kingdom : I believe the heat has gone to your head as you wander upon scorched sand. In search of a kingdom of wonder within your sight tangents of the night. As hot air rises cool air descends. Turbulence distorts a city from land. As you reach the desert shore you get a mouth of sand. There is more to this mirage than meets the humaned eye.
Thunder // Lightning : Did you awake last night? To forces larger than life. Did you hear the thunder roar? As summer rain pounds down to the ground. We were sleeping to dream. Movies playing behind our eyes. As thunder crashes lightning is not far behind. As thunder crashes lightning is not far behind. And we rise. Only you can destroy my loneliness. Only you can destroy my loneliness in your kiss. Oooh ahh.
Aurora : There she goes moving faster. Streak the night. Here she goes moving forward. Conduct shields of light. There she goes rising higher. Kiss the stars goodnight. here she goes moving faster streaking the night sky. Around the world. She goes. Red eyes in the night sky. [Aurora the sweet goddess of dawn flies across the sky. Send me an electric telegraph announcing the arrival of the sun. We immortal lovers triumph in our eternal youth. Wearing a robe of saffron as the solar winds blow. A magnetic storm. The sun spots conduct the shields of light reflecting upon the sky. Daughters of night. Bring me a premonition, bring me a souvenir from the borealis to prove there is something beyond the sun. We will rise, we will go on, our souls will breathe after our last beat. When the world is dust.]
These Are The Moments : I wish the moon would shine forever. So you can stare in wonderment. I wish the moon would shine forever. Your face lights up under it's gaze. These are the moments that I think of the most. I wish the ducks would swim forever. We can watch them as they play. I wish the birds would sing forever. A song for me, a song for you. These are the moments that I think of the most. I wish we didn't have to get out of bed. Our love is warm and the world is cold. I wish we didn't have to get out of bed. Our love is warm and the world is cold. These are the moments that I think of the most. One day that ring will cover bone and I'll still be by your side.
released March 20, 2010
Swallows Between The Sea And Sky. Produced by Swallows & Kipp Crawford. Featuring artwork by Nichloas Von Grainger. Release date: March 20th, 2010.
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