Posts Tagged ‘Richard swift’

Richard Swift: <i>The Hex</i> Review

Richard Swift’s final album, The Hex, drops tomorrow, September. 21st through Secretly Canadian. Swift, a longtime collaborator of The Shins, The Black Keys and more, died in July at the age of 41. Listening to Swift’s final song, “Sept20,” is an experience in epiphany. It goes something like this: You listen to the song, a vaguely melancholy piano ditty elevated by Swift’s eerie falsetto, and maybe you feel a bit thrown off by the show tunes-y chorus. You might puzzle over where you’ve heard his name before. The first realization comes with seeing that today is Sept. 20, and that this song is supposed to be some microcosm of today. Then you see the single artwork, a scrawled note, and as you read along, you find Swift speaking the words into being. There’s scratches, cross-outs. It’s his lyric sheet.

What a final statement it is. The Hex is tuneful and confident, immaculately arranged and distinctively produced, and reflective of the man’s longstanding interests in old soul music, vintage pop, fuzzy rock ‘n’ roll and beautiful walls of sound.

It is also strikingly honest, which is perhaps no surprise, since it comes from an artist who had, according to that same family statement, been battling the effects of alcohol addiction over the past couple of years. He makes no bones about his situation in “Broken Finger Blues,” which sounds like a classic Motown track charmingly recorded at the bottom of a well. The sonic details that surround those lyrics — the snappy bass line, the commanding piano chords, the lush backing vocals — belie their harrowing essence. The same could be said for “Wendy,” a desperate love song to Swift’s deceased mother presented as a buzzy ‘60s doo-wop song, complete with “da do run run” refrains. And “Dirty Jim” is a highlight of The Hex, precisely because of the contrast between its sound — a jaunty piano-pop song — and its message, which is more or less a farewell to Swift’s loved ones.

Elsewhere, “Selfishmath” is swaggering life lesson shot through with a sinister bass line. “Sister Song” and “Nancy” find Swift encouraging the women in his life through the echoes of reverb and time. The latter — with its undulating synths and vocals by Swift’s daughters — is particularly affecting. And you can almost hear the man himself giggling at the juxtaposition of “HZLWD” — a gently rolling baroque-pop instrumental — and the grating spoken-word experiment called “Kensington!”

The Hex ends modestly with “Sept20,” which finds Swift at the piano, sounding Elliott Smith-ish and singing of health and poison wells and sickness and death. The song ends somewhat abruptly, without some grand final statement or crescendo to tie everything up neatly.

In a way, though, that’s exactly the right ending for Richard Swift, a quintessential musician’s musician, and a top-shelf man behind the curtain. He was better known for his studio acumen and production work than his own songs, yes, but his solo albums are revered among those lucky enough to have heard them. The Hex will only bolster his legacy.

Richard Swift

Richard Swift, a former member of indie rock greats, The Shins and The Black Keys has passed away at age 41.  Swift had been suffering from an undisclosed “life-threatening condition”, in which a GoFundMe page was launched last month to help cover his medical bills.

Swift was an essential figure in the indie rock scene, releasing music as a solo artist as well as contributing as an instrumentalist and producer to a slew of other bands. Swift played with The Shins from 2011 to 2016 and was the touring bassist of the Black Keys in 2017.  Dan Auerbach confirmed. Swift, a multi-instrumentalist, had been a member of side project the Arcs, and also a studio owner, producer and film-maker.

“Today the world lost one of the most talented musicians I know,” Auerbach said via Instagram, alongside a picture of the pair together. “He’s now with his Mom and Sister. I will miss you my friend.” A post on Swift’s official Facebook page confirmed his passing, adding, “And all the angels sing ’Que Sera Sera.’”

He played drums in the Arcs and keyboards for Starflyer 59. Swift also lent his production talents to bands Foxygen, Guster, the Mynabirds, Sharon Van Etten, Damien Jurado, Pure Bathing Culture and founded the National Freedom recording studio.
A sad day in the world of music: the sudden passing of Richard Swift. Great producer, instrumental to so many strong artists, but also a wonderful songwriter himself. Hear his double opus “The Novelist / Walking without effort”. He will be missed and heard for times to come.

A post on Swift’s Facebook page reads, “And all the angels sing, “Que Sera Sera”, with tributes from his peers pouring out over social media. The Black Keys’ frontman Dan Auerbach took to Twitter to say, “Today the world lost one of the most talented musicians I know. He’s now with his Mom and Sister. I will miss you my friend.”

Talented musician and producer Richard Swift lost a battle with an undisclosed serious illness on July 3rd, and today the nature of that illness was revealed via this letter:

An update:We are grateful to the many fans, friends, artists and collaborators who have shared their thoughts, love and support this week. It has been a bracing force for many of us.

A number of questions have come up surrounding Swift’s life, his work and his death, and we’d like to answer some of them candidly, here:

Yes, Richard Swift suffered from alcohol addiction, and it’s ultimately what took his life. With the support of family and friends and the assistance of MusiCares, Richard had checked himself into rehab for multiple stays over the past two years, but his body gave out before he could overcome the disease. He was diagnosed with hepatitis and liver and kidney distress in June. Multiple hospitals worked to help stabilize him over the course of that month, but his body was unable to heal and, per his wishes and with his family’s consent, he was moved to hospice care. Richard passed in the early morning of July 3rd, 2018 in a hospice facility in Tacoma, WA. He is survived by his wife Shealynn and their three children Madison, Adrian & Kennedy.

Yes, Richard was working on new music, originally planned for release in November of this year. We do not have a timeline for its completion yet, but we hope to share it with you sooner than that.

With love,

The Swift family, Secretly Canadian & Next Wave Management.

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Jessie Baylin laid down tracks with producer Richard Swift, “It’s the truth of my life right now,” Baylin tells us about motherhood , she and her husband, Nathan Followill of Kings of Leon,  I got pregnant through the process [of making the album], and it feels like divine timing. I don’t want [motherhood] to completely define me, because I felt like the message was more vast, but once I started writing these songs, it was, ‘oh this is exactly what needs to be happening for me. I can own all of this and get behind it completely.'”

What makes Strawberry Wind different is that it approaches children’s music in a way that trusts kids to be more mature than we give them credit for, and lets adults be more whimsical than usually permitted. Songs like “Supermoon,” with a visually vibrant video directed by Steven Mertens, is a taste of this unique, youthful dreamland and part of a five-song mini-film that will accompany the release. Baylin wrote the song about her love affair with all things lunar.

“I feel like over the past few years, the moon has hired a publicist,” she says. “I’ve never seen so many super moons and blood moons. I’ve always been a fan of the moon. It’s something that holds a lot of magic and mystery, and the song really wrote itself.”

Like Baylin’s 2015 LP Dark Place, which was written as a reaction to the uncharted and sometimes terrifying waters that come with the birth of a child, Strawberry Wind is deeply connected to motherhood, and to the promises and puzzles presented to parents as they navigate raising the next generation.


“The timing of this feels incredibly important,” Baylin says. “Lord knows we could all use some joy and wonder right now.”


As half of the guitar-and-drums duo The Black Keys, Dan Auerbach has explored, and repeatedly blown up, nearly every shade of the blues for more than a decade. The band’s raw early years in Akron, Ohio, were defined by ragged, high-octane bangers full of heavy riffs and explosive drumming. That gave way to an expansive, radio-polished sound that’s elevated Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney to the status of arena-filling rock stars, but the blues have still been threaded through every iterative step. Now, on the heels of The Black Keys’ 2014 album Turn Blue, Auerbach turns his attention to a different expression of the blues, with his new band The Arcs and yet another stylistic shift. On The Arc’s debut, Yours, Dreamily, it takes the form of immersive R&B and soul, built around buzzy guitars and funky grooves.

It’s not the first time Auerbach has stepped away from his main gig — he’s put out a solo record and produced albums for Dr. John and Lana Del Rey — but with The Arc’s, he assembles a complete creative collaboration. Written and recorded quickly between working on other projects together, Auerbach sought out many of his longtime friends: Leon Michels, Homer Steinweiss and Nick Movshon are all frequent members of the Daptone family, and have played with artists like Sharon Jones and Solange. Then there’s Richard Swift, a distinctive songwriter and producer who’s served as a touring utility player in The Black Keys and The Shins. With contributions from guitarist Kenny Vaughan, Mariachi Flor de Toloache (the New York all-female mariachi band) and Tchad Blake, Yours, Dreamily, captures the spontaneity of players in a room as they come up with something new in the moment.

The Arcs' new album, Yours, Dreamily, comes out Sept. 4.


Taken as a whole, Yours, Dreamily, is already one of Auerbach’s most ambitious and fully realized albums. But The Arcs’ formula is so winning and natural that the band already has, at least according to Auerbach, a backlog of as many as 75 songs. If even some of those come to fruition, it could prove to be an enduring, endlessly rewarding collaboration.


The Arcs are Dan Auerbach, Leon Michels, Richard Swift, Homer Steinweiss, Nick Movshon, Kenny Vaughan, and Mariachi Flor de Toloache. The Second limited 7″ single includes the songs ‘Outta My Mind’ and non-album track ‘My Mind’.  The Arcs collaboratively wrote and recorded 13 tracks for the forthcoming album ‘Yours, Dreamily’, with the musicians playing a large array of roles both vocally and instrumentally.  Co-produced by Auerbach and Michels, the album was recorded in roughly two weeks through spontaneous, informal sessions across the country at the Sound Factory in Los Angeles, the Diamond Mine in Queens, Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound in Nashville, and in a lounge room at Electric Lady in Manhattan. Tchad Blake mixed the album on his horse farm in Wales.


Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys starts new solo project The Arcs. Inspired by the Floyd Mayweather / Manny Pacquiao boxing match, The Arcs release a limited 7″ with the songs ‘Stay in My Corner’ and ‘Tomato Can.’



About a year ago, Richard Swift horrifically fractured his left ring finger. For a moment his nimble guitar and piano work flashed before his eyes. Doctors were saying things like “movement and feeling could eventually return,” etc, etc. Certainly, not even a little blip on the sadness radar of humanity, but a massive bummer for a fellow who has carved out a niche as one of independent music’s sought after session players and producers — and especially in relation to the astounding Richard Swift solo output we all know and love.

So, it’s with a great, collective sigh of relief that he’s back to churning out new material like “Whitman.” It’s chugging, chiming and triumphant, featuring Swift’s always-endearing falsetto and casual call-and-response lyricism. “I’ve got my own Whitman…Farewell, farewell/I hope it did you good/To say the things/My father never could,” Swift pines. The song is a cryptic salute to Walt Whitman, whose American lineage of primal, urgent art can be traced to include Kerouac and Dylan, Bo Diddley and Beefheart — right on through to modern outsider-pop wunderkinds like Swift. And according to Swift, “Whitman” is a nice taste of what we can expect from his next long form recording.

The same can be said for the remainder of the Walt Wolfman EP. Conceived in the same spirit that gave us 2008’s cult favourite Ground Trouble Jaw EP, these blown-out, basement R&B rippers are not for the faint of heart. They require movement and sweat, dancing with a cocktail glass in your grip until your shoes are soaked in booze. Highlight of the set, “MG 333,” is a raw and ghostly trance, a blast of kinetic energy and jazz cigarette smoke. Meanwhile, the neu-vintage jive of “Drakula (Hey Man)” and “Zombie Boogie” pack a timelessness that transcends their seasonal titles. And yeah, that’s Swift himself on rapid-fire drums across the whole damn set. Shit, he might have been fine without that measly finger after all.

Springtime Carnivore is essentially a solo project for local artist Greta Morgan, whose pedigree made her self-titled debut album noteworthy when it was released in the Autumn. For one, it was produced by Richard Swift, currently a touring member of both The Shins and The Black Keys. In addition, it was offered up by local label Autumn Tone, an extension of L.A. institution Aquarium Drunkard. But none of this speaks to the actual sound of Springtime Carnivore, which takes hazy California rock & roll with classic pop and R&B flourishes, and gives them all a contemporary spin.

springtime carnivore


Much has happened since Tahiti 80 formed some twenty years ago on a college campus in France. What started as the brainchild of Xavier Boyer (vocals, guitars, keys) and Pedro Resende (bass), soon turned into a group of four with Mederic Gontier (lead guitar) and Sylvain Marchand (drums), and eventually six with the addition of Raphael Leger (drums and percussion) and Hadrien Grange (keys).

Their first album, Puzzle (1999), brought them a strong following not just in France, but also in other countries like the US and Japan. Infectious single “Heartbeat” lent a hand in Puzzle going gold in Japan.

The band’s love for 60’s and 70’s music hugely impacts their sound. Whether you hear it in the pop-infused Puzzle, the dreamy and experimental Wallpaper for the Soul (2003), the groove oriented Fosbury (2005), the raw, back-to-basics approach of Activity Center (2009), or the eclectic The Past, Present & The Possible (2011), you cannot deny the striking harmony of old and new musical influences.

When it came to creation of the sixth album, Ballroom, Tahiti 80’s two decades of experience lent much material to write about – love gone wrong tends to do that.

The band reconvened at their recording studio Tahitilab to parse through the many demos made since their last album until they found a cohesive collection of songs. Producer Richard Swift (The Shins, The Black Keys, Foxygen) was then enlisted, and Ballroom came to fruition. This synth pop album exudes a dark sexy vibe that is sure to get you out on the dance floor.

Ballroom was released on October 21, 2014 via Human Sounds, JVC Victor, Minty Fresh & Hot Puma records



Springtime Carnivore and their self titled debut, It’s easy to focus on the kaleidoscopic textures and Technicolor adornment, but beyond those psychedelic touches are Greta Morgan’s (Springtime Carnivore) songs: concisely written, boldly sung, and delivered like classics. Songs like “Western Pink” and “Name on a Matchbook” are expertly rendered, and beautiful production by Morgan and co-producer Richard Swift serve to boost the beauty already there, throwing open the windows to let sun stream in.

This Springtime Carnivore record that Greta Morgan released in the last parts of 2014 didn’t come out of nowhere, but it kinda did catch us by surprise. It didn’t surprise us that it was good, but it surprised us that it was so good it hurt. Over the last few years, one of the most vogue things to do has been to record an album of lo-fi beach jams that’s supposed to get beloved just for the beachy parts and because it feels so lusciously aloof. There’s a strange malaise to most of these records. Springtime Carnivore’s self-titled debut is a whole other thing completely. It’s breezy and yet dense as a bolt. Morgan’s songs about the many frivolous and often fascinating sides to that lunatic activity of love, that we all so frequently engage in, are staggeringly complex, but still fall-off-the-bone tender and chewy. She’s made one of those beachy doo-wop records that you never knew you needed in your life until it came along.

American Indie Rock band from Brooklyn New York City , Sarah Versprille and Daniel Hindman met while college students in New Jersey after moving to Portland, Oregon after playing in the band Vetiver, with an EP released for Father Daughter Records produced by Richard Swift, and then an album “Moon Tides” released the following year.