Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys have just released their RPM Challenge album for 2017. The RPM Challenge challenges artists to create an entire album in the 28 days of February. This time constraint is impressive, especially considering how involved Wake Up Your Head is, even by normal Walter Sickert standards.
Wake Up Your Head is weird. The album is described as "... a dystopian holiday excursion; this time exploring the possibilities of life underground after the nuclear obliteration of the surface." The album started as a series of improvisational one take recordings, and then tinkered around with to make actual songs, much like late period Sonic Youth did it. I'll let Walter Sickert explain the thoughts behind the album:
"I worry about the future a lot, not for me as much as for my two year old. I think of the horrific way in which our planet is treated, how humans are seen as dollar signs and votes to those in power. Those who would rather guarantee the prosperity of their companies and bloated egos over the health and safety of the people they were elected to serve.
When the most powerful people in our government believe in a mandated Armageddon, when they believe human rights, the environment, climate change and education take a backseat to profit; it becomes easy to imagine a future where our children are forced to deal with a cataclysmic existence brought on by greed and a disregard (or even hostility) towards education.
That's where this album begins, vignettes of a world at war, scratching at the stars for natural resources long since exploited on our own planet. The album continues to life and love in a fallout shelter, to adventures in memory erasure, and the questionable malleability of reality. It highlights the time after the reemergence of humanity where roving gangs of scavenger children cannibalize adults in retaliation for generations of suffering and where new religions are born amalgams of the little surviving pop culture and mysticism of the days before the final war.
It’s not a record about the end of the world I swear!
No seriously... It's about the start of our world right now. It's about all of us standing up for what's right and fighting for the future we believe in, the future we want for our loved ones. It's about never letting fear stop us, but instead, using it to fuel our resolve to organize, to build community, and elect officials that fight for the people not for gold and castles."
Wake Up Your Head is a lot more quiet and reflective than previous releases by Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys. "FALLOUT SURVIVAL GUIDE" is "Revolution 9" level weird and experimental. It's immediately followed by "THE KINGDOM KIDS (STOP ADULTS)" which could be the band's attempt at a mainstream rap song? "WITCHCRAFT" is my personal favorite and has a Mike Patton doing free jazz feel to it.
Wake Up Your Head is available now for free (although you should know that any money they make off this album will be donated to Planned Parenthood) on Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys' Bandcamp. If you're in New York City, you can catch them at The Bowery Electric on April 29. They play Once Ballroom in Somerville, MA on May 4.