The Black Swans make music slow, dark, and other worldly from the Midwestern existential crisis point called Columbus, Ohio. Over three albums, The Black Swans have tackled doubt, sex, and self-reflection that, in turn, earned them high praise from Pitchfork, USA Today, Spin, Dusted, Daytrotter, and dozens of webzines and weekly papers. From 2004’s Who Will Walk in the Darkness with You? to 2005’s Sex Brain, and 2007’s Change, frontman Jerry DeCicca and classical violinist Noel Sayre have been the bedrock of an uncanny slow-motion folk that is both Appalachian and learned in its sweep and sound.
This song, “Country Cookie # 3,” their first release as only a duo, was recorded while on tour on a cassette 4-track the morning after a gig in Austin, Texas. A little over 3 months later, Noel Sayre drowned in a public swimming pool, making this one of the final recordings the two would make together.
Too, DeCicca produced (and Sayre played on) the first new recordings in 28 years by Monument Records recording artist Larry Jon Wilson, to be released by Drag City in June 2009. Later this year, the Black Swans will also release their next album, Don’t Blame the Stars, as well as a limited edition vinyl LP on the St. Ives label.
Alina Simone was born in Kharkov, Ukraine and came to the US at a young age as the daughter of political refugees after her father refused recruitment by the KGB and was blacklisted for ‘refusal to cooperate.’ Raised in the suburbs of Massachusetts, Alina moved to Austin, Texas after graduating from art school in Boston. It was there that she first started singing in public, in the doorway of an abandoned bar on Sixth Street. After the release of her first EP, Prettier in the Dark (2005), and her debut album, Placelessness (2007, 54º 40′ or Fight!), Simone earned both national airplay and critical acclaim. Simone’s newest album marked a dramatic divergence from her prior work. Everyone is Crying Out to Me, Beware (2008, 54º 40′ or Fight!) covers the music of Russian cult icon, Yanka Dyagileva, a Siberian punk-folk singer who drowned under mysterious circumstances in 1991. Sung entirely in Russian, Everyone is Crying Out to Me, Beware both echoes the lo-fi samizdat quality of Yanka’s recordings and subverts it with lush arrangements and intricately textured layers of trumpet, cello and guitars. The album received widespread critical acclaim from major national and international outlets including The New Yorker, BBC’s “The World,” Billboard Magazine, Spin Magazine, NPR, USA Today, New York Magazine and Pitchfork among others.
Alina Simone’s next original full-length album, Make Your Own Danger, will be released in 2009. She is also writing a book featuring a collection of humorous essays about Russia, family, and the tragic-comic struggle to make it in indie rock to be published Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2010.