Archive for the ‘jerry decicca’ tag
Yesterday marked the five-year anniversary of Noel Sayre’s passing. A luminary in the Ohio underground, Noel played violin for our beloved Black Swans. He also performed with the West Virginia and Portsmouth Symphony orchestras and worked as a guitar and violin teacher. Sayre was in a swimming accident on July 1, 2008. After going on life support, he passed away on July 3, 2008.
Sayre’s old friend and bandmate Jerry DeCicca (Black Swans front-man) wrote an entire album about the event. Please read the album’s bio below and listen to “Portsmouth, Ohio” [here]. The haunting song “chronicles the day Noel Sayre died in a swimming pool accident, with a journalistic eye and no sentimentality, taking the listener from the diving board to the I.C.U. to chicken salad sandwiches on the 4th of July. The swimming pool is featured on the album’s cover.” American Songwriter placed The Black Swans’ “Portsmouth, Ohio” at #11 on their Top 50 Songs of 2012 list.
The Black Swans Occasion for Song (MSR064)
The Black Swans’ Occasion for Song, their 5th full-length, is a messy long-haul of emotions dealing with the death of founding member and violinist Noel Sayre, and the aftermath of memory, shock, and loss it created. It recalls lessons learned in 9th grade Health class — DABDA (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance). Without a textbook, however, The Black Swans are not so orderly. The guitars and banjo and vocals and drums and bass sound out dark thoughts, sad thoughts, silly thoughts, angry thoughts, and buckets of depression almost all at once. This is an album about loss, death, and trying to get to the acceptance at the end of grief.
The record begins with “Basket of Light” where DeCicca sings “I took a trip where the sun never sits/ but I’ve come back for a few more moments of joy”. It may be the album’s most hopeful personal moment.
The third track, “Portsmouth, Ohio,” chronicles the day Noel Sayre died in a swimming pool accident, with a journalistic eye and no sentimentality, taking the listener from the diving board to the I.C.U. to chicken salad sandwiches on the 4th of July. The swimming pool is featured on the album’s cover.
“Daily Affirmation” and “Fickle and Faded,” the album’s most light-hearted songs, feature the dry humor and playfulness in words and notes the Black Swans are known for whereas “Mask from Memory” may be oddest track the band has ever recorded. It imagines the singer creating a paper mache mask of his deceased friend to see the world through his eyes.
In the coda of the album’s closer, “Bad Day,” DeCicca sings, “Sometimes the occasion for song/ Is filled with reasons that are all wrong/ Don’t sing along” like he can barely get out of bed. But the harmonica, where the violin belongs, sounds as hopeful as it does forlorn.
Occasion for Song was recorded straight to analog in August 2010 in Columbus, Ohio at the famed Mus-i-col Recording Studio (see Numero Group’s Capsoul and Prix label reissues) by Adam Smith (CDR label head, Times New Viking engineer) and mixed at Tangerine Studios by Ben Vehorn (Modest Mouse, Love as Laughter).
The Black Swans’ last record, Don’t Blame the Stars, released in May 2011 on Misra Records, Pitchfork called “gorgeous sounding” and Paste beamed “singular and strong”.
Those compliments are even truer here. Occasion for Song is the sound of a band coming to terms with its grief and the junk it brings. Gorgeous, raw, strange, and sincere.
1. Basket of Light
2. Bound to Be
3. Portsmouth, Ohio
4. Somewhere Else
5. Daily Affirmation
6. JD’s Blues
7. Where Are You Tonight?
8. Mask from Memory
9. Work Song
10. Shake Me Up
11. Fickle and Faded
12. Bad Dream
Jerry DeCicca: vocals, harmonica, guitar
Tyler “Turkeyfoot” Evans: banjo
Canaan Faulkner: bass, piano
Chris Forbes: electric guitar, nylon string guitar, tenor guitar
Keith Hanlon: drums, percussion
Jon Beard: B3 organ
The Black Swans “Occasion for Song” – Deluxe, Double Gatefold, 180 Gram, 2x LP Record Store Day 2013 Release
That’s right, a deluxe, double gatefold, 180 gram, 2x LP pressing of The Black Swans’ fantastic Occasion for Song (Misra; 2012) will be available on Record Store Day 2013 (April 20). This phenomenal package is limited to 500 copies and will be available at *record stores only.* Get on it and make sure to support your local record store!
Also, do make sure to check out the brand new Pitchfork feature on Mus-I-col – the legendary Columbus recording studio where The Black Swans recorded Occasion for Song. Black Swans’ frontman Jerry DeCicca is interviewed for the piece and “Portsmouth, Ohio” off Occasion for Song is highlighted. It’s a wonderful and important read!
The Black Swans were recently listed at #11 on American Songwriter’s Top 50 Songs of 2012. Written by Jerry DeCicca, the heavy-hearted “Portsmouth, Ohio” chronicles the day the band’s late violinist Noel Sayre died in a swimming pool accident, with a journalistic eye and no sentimentality, taking the listener from the diving board to the I.C.U. to chicken salad sandwiches on the 4th of July. The swimming pool is featured on the cover of Occasion for Song (Misra; 2012). “Portsmouth, Ohio” has the signature of most great songs – a seemingly effortless ability to make time stand still. It’s a phenomenal track. Do listen here.
- Jerry DeCicca of The Black Swans was recently interviewed by Chris Mateer for No Depression and Uprooted Music Revue. Thanks so much Chris!
- The Black Swans celebrate the release of Occasion for Song with a FREE in-store performance @ Lost Weekend Records in Columbus, OH on Sunday, July 29 @ 4 PM. Here is the Facebook event for the in-store. Come one, come all!
The Black Swans nailed an 8.0 review from Prefix Mag today. The time and care Jim Allen put into the piece is wonderful. Here is the opening paragraph:
“Let’s make one thing clear — there was never a secret supergroup session at some home studio in Nashville that included Lee Hazlewood, Townes Van Zandt, Stuart Staples from Tindersticks, and Mickey Newbury. That’s unforunate on a basic level, but also because it would have handily explained the genesis of the sounds emanating from Occasion For Song by The Black Swans. The Ohio-based band led by singer/songwriter Jerry DeCicca bears its share of melancholy and then some on their fifth album, but so do a million and one other indie bands, and none of them come anywere close to evoking the same sort of sad-sack super session described above.”
To note: the official release date for The Black Swans Occasion for Song is 7/31, not 7/17. You can pre-order the album here.