The era of big festival reunions may finally be drawing to a close, as reunited Coachella bands like Ride and Drive Like Jehu drew tiny, depressing crowds to tents the size of aircraft hangers. With Jehu in particular, it was just sad, and I couldn't bear to be one of the 80-or-so people filling out that room for long. Swans, who are technically a reunion act even though they're doing the best work of their careers right now, brought a crowd just a tiny bit bigger than Jehu's, and they had to contend with closing the Gobi tent, playing at the same time as the Weeknd and Axwell ^ Ingrosso, the Swedish dance duo whose euphoric thumps kept bleeding through the tent walls and trying to kill Swans' vibe.
But Swans made a bad situation work by leaning into it, stretching out and droning for extended stretches. Really, Swans shouldn't be bringing out huge crowds, at least when it's not their show. They tend to play new music live rather than anything the crowd might've heard, and I think the endless warm bass-heavy ambient piece they played was intended for another album. All their layers of sound were genuinely pretty during that stretch, and they cast a spell. But then, without warning, the band suddenly lurched into a deranged blues stomp, catching the entire universe off-guard. I saw people run out of the tent as soon as the thunderously loud beat kicked in. It was awesome.
It started in the sewer. Ugliness embodied. Noise like you’d never heard. The bellowing drawl of an unhinged slave driver, spitting abuse and mantras of degradation.
“Nobody beats you like a cop, with his club.”
“Someone weaker than you should rape you.”
Lyrics sailed past pitch-black into some deeper,… More »
Swans’ behemoth double-LP The Seer is a pretty safe bet to be included in most year-end top 10s, and the album hits its apex at its conclusion: the 23-minute “The Apostate.” Generally speaking, 23 minutes is about the length of a sitcom (sans commercials), not a single, so it’s appropriate that the band edited the… More »
The music-video universe took a bit of a week off this week; Labor Day, I guess, will do that. But there was still plenty of good stuff out this week; the relative scarcity just meant that I didn’t have to cut anything deeply awesome to put this list together. Check out this week’s list below. More »
If Swans’ two-hour monolithic masterpiece The Seer isn’t quite huge enough for you, the deluxe edition of the album comes with a DVD that includes footage of the band’s absolutely monstrous live show. And below, we’ve got video of them playing a building, droning, eventually bloodthirsty version of “No Words/No Thoughts,” an instrumental from their… More »
Summer is ending! And you have some work to do. Did you experience that season-defining moment? That rooftop conversation, that carefree weekend of intense interpersonal bonding? Did you find the person who’ll keep you warm all winter? If you’ve answered negatively to even one of these, you have some work to do. And so we… More »
As a music dork, two of the most transcendent, quasi-religious experiences you can have are going to see Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Neurosis live. And after I saw Neurosis a few years ago, something occurred to me: The two shows are pretty much negative mirror images of each other. Both bands are full of… More »
For obvious reasons, Animal Collective is getting a lot of attention this morning, but Centipede Hz is not the only important new album streaming online in full today. Allow me to direct your attention to The Seer, the massive and bloody-minded new double LP from the reconstituted NY postpunk leviathans Swans. This is an intense,… More »
Later this month, reconstituted violent-postpunk boundary-smashers Swans will release The Seer, their absolute monster of a double album. We’ve already heard a 10-minute edit of their 23-minute album opener “The Apostate,” which isn’t even the longest song on the album. And now, NPR has a stream of the elemental 10-minute clanger “Mother Of The World.”… More »
The Seer, the new album from reconstituted NY postpunk drone-gods Swans, is a masterpiece of insane heaviness: 10 songs spread out over two hours, full of yelps and screeches and tribal thuds and cathartic builds and general evil. Closing track “The Apostate” is 23 minutes of clanging and banging, and the heaviest headfuck you will… More »
New York primal-noise pioneers Swans might not have the same lineup as they did when they were making audience members puke with how loud they were, but Michael Gira’s reconstituted band of warriors has been making some seriously mythic sounds since getting back together a couple of years ago; their set at last year’s I’ll… More »
Jeff Mangum has justifiably been getting the lion’s share of the attention surrounding the I’ll Be Your Mirror festival; when a reclusive indie god comes out of hiding, it’s a big deal. But the weekend also marked a long-awaited return for the festival’s curators and headliners. Last night, Portishead stepped onstage in the Convention Hall… More »
As we’ve heard from places like The New Yorker, NYTimes, and everywhere in between, the reactivated Swans are a powerhouse and a near religious live force. I spoke about this firsthand when recapping the 10/8 Brooklyn Masonic Temple show Haunting The Chapel co-organized. Not just that, the new album My Father Will Guide Me Up… More »
Friday night’s Brooklyn Masonic Temple date was Swans’s first hometown show in 14 years. Haunting The Chapel organized it with the Blackened Music Series and ISSUE Project Room (it was the second show I’ve put together with Gira). The reactivated Swans are on tour with Baby Dee. We added Australian-born noisemaker Ben Frost to Friday’… More »
Swans’ My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky finds Michael Gira seamlessly shifting from Angels Of Light mode to the heavier, noisier realm of his earlier incarnation(s), adding newfound details, nuances, and unexpected elements in the process. This isn’t a surprise: When I spoke with Gira about it last January he… More »
As previously reported, Michael Gira has “re-activated” Swans for their first U.S. shows in more than a decade. (Full disclosure: I’m helping put on one of those shows.) As we also made clear in January, you can expect new Swans sounds at those events. As Gira told me, “[the] approach will be basically where Soundtracks… More »
As the post title over at MySpace reads “COMING SOON, NEW SWANS ALBUM AND TOUR(S).” And as close readers will also note, the seminal noise-rock crew’s swansaredead MySpace page has been updated with a “Swans Are Not Dead” headline. This, of course, is extremely exciting news: Probably my favorite band to emerge from that early… More »