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  • Swans’ Michael Gira: Growing into something new (Whopperjaw)

    () - M. Gira, Michael Gira, SWANS, to be kind, young god

    Swans‘ frontman Michael Gira originally thought he would be a visual artist. Since childhood, he regularly created illustrations and “devoured books on art.” He even went to art school. It was there that he was introduced to punk rock, which he has said “seemed more relevant and urgent and necessary than forging some kind of art career, which was beginning to look like a parallel career to being a lawyer or accountant.” Initially, he started what he has called a “pretty bad punk rock band” called the Little Cripples that played a show in San Francisco. Shortly after moving to New York in 1979, he launched the oppressively noisy Swans which kept going strong until 1997 when the group disbanded and Gira started up the avant folk act Angels of Light. About five years ago, Gira had some songs for what he presumed would be a new Angels of Light record. In the process of arranging them, he realized they would function better as Swans songs so he re-formed the band and issued My Father Will Guide Me on the Rope to the Sky, what he calls a “transitional album.” In 2103, Swans followed it up with The Seer, an......

  • Le National, Montreal QC (Exclaim)

    () - M. Gira, Michael Gira, SWANS, to be kind, young god

    By Natalie Zina Walschots Published Feb 20, 2015 How the fuck do you talk about Swans?   Seriously, someone tell me. I could barely talk at all for a good two hours after the show ended, and not just because, even with very good earplugs, my head was ringing and my hearing was cottony and distant. No. It wasn't that my ears were ringing, though they were. It was that my body was ringing.   No other band are capable of generating a full-contact, visceral and aural live experience the way that Swans do. This is not merely a wall of sound, a relentless crush of punishing sonic energy; it is enveloping and immersive, designed to overwhelm but not all at once, a slow drowning in sound that turns the listener's body into a tuning fork. It's odd to feel so smashed, so obliterated and yet be listening so hard, not trying to block out what is already too much, far too much, but to take even more of it in. It's a wonder to realize you can feel your organs against each other, your bones resonant, your teeth vibrating in your gums. It's hard to stay anywhere close to......

  • SWANS BRINGS BLISSFUL CACOPHONY TO PORT CITY MUSIC HALL (Maine Today)

    () - M. Gira, Michael Gira, SWANS, to be kind, young god

    Written by: Robert Ker For a certain segment of the Southern Maine population, the Swans concert at Port City Music Hall on Feb. 17 had been circled on the calendar for some time, and with good reason. Not only are Swans one of the most celebrated cult acts on the rock circuit, but they are also the perfect live act for a city that is lined with crunchy snowbanks, coated in a thick layer of brown sludge and abused by angry, Arctic winds. The people of Portland have had enough of all of this, and Swans makes music for people who have had enough. They come billed loosely as “metal” or “noise rock,” but they contain neither the full-throttle adrenaline that the former often implies nor the abrasiveness that the latter does. Instead, they offer melodic, droning passages that stretch for miles, frequently involve chanting, and can slowly crescendo into majestic waves. One would almost call it peaceful if it wasn’t loud enough to register on the Richter scale. The set offered few of these songs, but there was a lot of meat on those bones. Several compositions pushed up against the 20-minute mark, with long introductions in which a......

  • Swans, Chelsea Wolfe @ Warsaw, Brooklyn (Stereogum)

    () - M. Gira, Michael Gira, SWANS, to be kind, young god

    By Doug Moore / June 14, 2013 - 4:26 pm Michael Gira prefers to call the version of Swans that emerged in early 2010 a reconstitution rather than a reunion. It is easy to see why the word choice matters to him; the term “reunion” comes with a great deal of historical baggage that simply does not apply to the band’s current iteration. They have been very busy, but not with nostalgia — only one pre-hiatus song regularly appears in their set list. Instead, they have gone on a creative tear, releasing two new albums that stand tall among one of the starkest and most powerful catalogs in rock music. (If you have somehow avoided Swans so far, you owe it to yourself to check out Aaron Lariviere’s excellent Counting Down feature on the band. I am still mad at him for his placement of Filth, Cop, and My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky, though.) Swans have toured heavily since their reemergence, and live performance is important to their experimental process. Their new material is only loosely structured and relies heavily on interpretation and improvisation. During the tour that led up to the recording of......

  • CRUEL TO BE KIND: AN INTERVIEW WITH SWANS LEADER MICHAEL GIRA (Cincy Music)

    () - M. Gira, Michael Gira, SWANS, to be kind, young god

    By Nat Tracey-Miller on Monday February 23, 2015 9:11am When Michael Gira brought his post-punk outfit Swans back from the dead five years ago, it was amidst a bevy of nostalgia-driven cash grabs by ‘80s and ‘90s alt-rock heroes. Gira, though, was explicit about his intentions in the initial announcement: “THIS IS NOT A REUNION.” After spending thirteen years on other projects (notably the more acoustic-oriented Angels of Light), he simply felt Swans was the best name to use for the music he wanted to make going forward.  And what a rewarding return it has been. The three albums from the current incarnation (frankly among the best of their career) evade easy description or genre classification. The music is heavy but not metal, improvisatory yet never jammy, harrowing and dark but never hopeless. They feature a spectacular cast of A-list guest stars, including Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Low, and Devendra Banhart. Last year’s double-disc masterpiece To Be Kind included extensive contributions from both St. Vincent and Cold Specks. Swans concerts are tumultuous, unpredictable affairs. Gira stands at center stage conducting his group with eye contact and hand gestures, conjuring waves of noise from his bandmates. Their shows......

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