Skip to content


By: Ginny Yang

In the same vein as Death Cab for Cutie and Pinback, Swords have created thoughtful indie rock for the digital age. Metropolis finds the Portland natives blending subtle atmospherics with singer-bassist Corey Ficken’s warm and understated vocals. However, the textured melodies disguise subversive lyrics that rail against post-modern ennui. A sense of foreboding permeates the disc as the six-piece set tackles emotional disconnection, the commercialization of music and other crushing blows of modern living.

Originally named Swords Project, the group came together in 1999 from the remains of Northwest acts Icebreak and Slower Than. The band got its start opening for Stephen Malkmus on his debut solo tour and released a 2001 self-titled EP and the 2003 full-length Entertainment Is Over If You Want It. In addition to Ficken, the ensemble features drummers Evan Railton and Joey Ficken, guitarists Jeff Gardner and Ryan Stowe, and violinist-keyboardist Liza Reitz, who each dabbled in arty fields such as graphic design, television, fashion and film. Their third studio effort is similarly eclectic and infused with astute observations on the effects of media on society.

After dropping the “Project” from its name, the band recorded the 10-song Metropolis in an abandoned Oregon warehouse. Album opener “The Product of Harm” discusses the manipulative effects of the entertainment industry, while “Radio, Radio” sends out an S.O.S. signal for the downfall of corporate broadcasting. “Radio, radio / Gasping for air,” Corey sings in the latter track. “Salvation’s in code words / Distance is everywhere.” Meanwhile, “Family Photographs” paints a gloomy picture of suburban isolation. With sprawling melodies and insightful lyrics reigning on the disc, Swords reveal their weapons of mass introspection.

Swords tour dates:

10/14, San Francisco, CA (Great American Music Hall) 10/15, Portland, OR (Dantes)10/16, Seattle, WA (Chop Suey)10/18, Spokane, WA (Fat Tuesdays)10/20, Salt Lake City, UT (Halo)10/21, Denver, CO (Larimer Lounge)10/22, Omaha, NE (Oleavers)10/23, Lawrence, KS (Replay)10/24, Ames, IA (Maintenance Shope)10/25, Columbia, MO (Blue Note)10/27, Minneapolis, MN (Varsity)10/28, Chicago, IL (Subterranean)10/29, Detroit, MI (Magic Stick)10/30, Cleveland, OH (Grog Shop)11/1, Pittsburgh, PA (Club Cafe)11/2, Hoboken, NJ (Maxwells)11/4, New York, NY (Mercury Lounge)11/5, Philadelphia, PA (Northstar Bar)11/6, Boston, MA (Middle East)11/8, Baltimore, MD (Ottobar)11/9, Chapel Hill, NC (Cats Cradle)11/10, Nashville, TN (Exit In)11/11, New Orleans, LA (One Eyed Jacks)11/12, Houston, TX (Walters on Washington)11/13, Dallas, TX (Dans)11/16, Tuscson, AZ (Congress)11/17, Phoenix, AZ (Modified)11/18, San Diego, CA (Casbah)

Swords label site