Swans – To Be Kind

In the interest of full disclosure, let me just say that up until this album, I had never heard much by Swans. I mean, I had heard of them; my friends who are into good music usually tell me that the band is something else and fucking LOUD when they play. In fact, it was this argument that almost made me take a spontaneous 6 hour road trip to see the band when I hadn’t even heard a note of their music. It might sound cheesy, but that’s because I put a lot of faith in rock n roll. While all other religions, institutions, and schemers have let me down, good rock n roll has always done what it’s promised to do for me: make shit cool.

So now, we arrive at Swans latest effort, To Be Kind. First off, to make an album that’s over two hours long in this day and age, when the Internet has caused an attention deficiency to anything that isn’t under 30 seconds, takes gusto, madness, or both. Maniac gusto. Doesn’t that have a nice ring to it?

So going in with no information about the band at all (members, how long they’ve been around, etc. etc.), I decided to let the music speak for itself. The first time through, it was a tough one to get into. Like I said, two hour albums aren’t my forte. It takes a serious investment to get into this type of music and because I was so distracted at the time of my first listen, I couldn’t get into. But then I sat down another day, borrowed my sister’s overpriced Beats headphones and listened to the album all the way through while doing absolutely nothing but listening. I gotta say, it’s something else. If there was one album that could put you in a trance, I’d say this would be it. From the repetitious riffs to the chanting to the buildups, it draws you into the music in a way that becomes practically hypnotic.

After finishing the album, I needed a moment/cigarette to decompress what I had just heard. Good art is usually loved, but great art is polarizing. You either love it to the point of obsession or you hate it to the point that you wish you could put it in a cannon and shoot it directly into the sun. But either way, it gauges a reaction. My reaction on this side of the spectrum is simple: I love it and I honestly hope that in the near future, if my schedule clears up at all (which seems unlikely now as I’m writing this even while I’m at work), I hope I can have another 2 hour period of not being disturbed to see what the second listen yields.

Okay, if you got through that whole chunk of writing and are skipping to the bottom to read the conclusion, this is it: put on the Nikes and drink the Kool-Aid. It’s a great record.

The band will be playing the Exit In this Monday, June 30th. Like I previously stated, aside from the fact that they’re really loud, I don’t know what the band’s like live or if they’ll be able to pull off one of their 30 minute songs in the middle of it. What I do know is that I’m gonna do everything I fucking can to be there to see it. I recommend you do the same.

A Little God In My Hands – Swans

Oxygen – Swans

3 Responses to “Swans – To Be Kind”
  1. crankypants says:

    I’ve known about Swans for a long time but never listened to them. My friend is obsessed by this album (he had never really gotten into them either) and gave me a copy. It is really good, I haven’t given it enough dedicated listens but it is entrancing and definitely worth checking out. he sent it to me right after they played Philly and I was like, oh great now I am going to kick myself for not going, but I think I will live. I heard they do put on a great show.
    Anyway, I just saw Nick Cave 3 times in one week, it was amaaaaaaazing x3. People were jealous of my Grinderman t-shirt in Louisville, one guy asked if I bought it online and said FUCK YOU!!!! when I told him I bought it at the nashville show.
    I thought I’d be Nick Cave’d out by now but instead I bought a ticket to see them in DC before the Philly show. I have a problem.
    (do you mean this monday June 30th?)

    • Jordan Canio says:

      3 times in one week? Bragger. Haha. I wanted to see him at Bonnaroo but I couldn’t figure out how to get there and I had night class the night of the Louisville show. Bummer.
      And yes, I did mean June 30th. Thanks for the correction!

      • crankypants says:

        yeah I drove to Lexington to meet up w/my friends then after Louisville we drove to KC and Milwaukee. It was way too much driving but totally worth it! and we got up front for all 3 shows which is the only place to be. That sucks you didn’t make it to Bonnaroo or Louisville, Louisville was the only show thus far that he wasn’t wearing that awful gold shirt (well I don’t know about bonnaroo)! (not to mention it was a great show)

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