Red Swan
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Red Swan

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"Village Voice review of ATBG"

Village Voice|Licks by Chuck Eddy|March 10-16 2004
You could say Red Swan's tales of insane people out in the middle of the Midwestern piney woods are to Warrant's "Uncle Tom's Cabin" as their mid-'80s Wisconsin sludge-blooze method-acting predecessors Killdozer's were to the Charlie Daniels Band's "Legend of Wooley Swamp," but you'd just confuse people so never mind. These Michiganders are the most entertaining new pigfuckers in years anyway, and no wonder the Steve Albini who wrote "Jordan, Minnesota" and "Kerosene" opted to, er, "record" them.
They start with a mysteriously lovely weirdass banjo hoedown, they're fond of Iron John drum circle parts and the rumbling underwater grind that the Butthole Surfers' "Dum Dum" took from Black Sabbath's "Children of the Grave," and they've got a real knack for building downturned fuzz riffs into a dragging-corpse-through-dense-forest-wearing-muddy-boots-with-holes-in-soles rhythm that actually moves. Guitar plasma's all over the top, or spoken staccato resembling some Sonic Youth car-crash oldie. Tribute's paid twice to a school board member who set off a bomb in a Michigan grammar school in 1927, killing 45 and injuring 58, to protest his farm being foreclosed to pay education taxes. Plus: Bestiality! Hillbilly baby sacrifice on the peacock range! Christmas tree farms burnt down in revenge for stealing of spouses! Theme song about huntin' snake-eatin' scarlet waterfowl with a frog-catchin' sack! Finale: the best ursine rock from Michigan since Ted Nugent's "Fred Bear." - Village Voice

"Red Swan release party no swan song for Mac’s"

Red Swan release party no swan song for Mac’s

A local show rumored to be a major milestone has apparently been downgraded to a minor milestone. “NOTE: THIS IS NOT THE LAST SHOW EVER,” reads a slightly annoyed, anti-apocalyptic footnote to Mac’s Bar Web site’s listing for Saturday, Dec. 17. According to owner Matt Ellison, that night’s Red Swan CD release party is merely the last show before the bar is revamped for a Jan. 4 return to business (albeit with a slightly more relaxed schedule).

Saturday’s show will be a milestone for Red Swan, at least, as the Lansing-based band celebrates the release of “Cold Winter’s Dawn,” its follow-up full-length to 2004’s ursine-noise romp, “After the Barn Goes.” The new album weighs in as one of the most impressive follow-ups to what was already a decent first album by any local band in recent memory.

The 11-song LP continues in Red Swan’s traditional story-telling manner, but the music is much denser and darker than it was in the first album. The drums thump harder, the bass is lower, the guitars are thick and layered to kingdom come, the leads are more discernible and the vocals are more ominous. It seems as it Red Swan has abandoned the flailing noise and early-90’s Touch & Go influences for something much more doom-laden and sludgy.

The band credits this more focused second effort to several factors. “We wrote this album as a band, in practice, whereas I wrote a lot of the last album without them,” says singer/guitarist Tom Muth. “I also bought a bass,” adds bassist/banjo/baritone guitar player Jim Donaldson, who stuck primarily to baritone guitar on the last album. “I played a lot more with the guitarists on the last album,” Donaldson says. “This album, I focused more on finding a groove with the drums.” The band has also changed guitarists and drummers recently. “Andy plays a lot more leads than our last guitarist,” says Muth of guitarist Andy Lukas. “The drums got bigger too.” Drummer I.W. Sugierski has recently acquired a much larger set, which has helped provide the band with its heavier sound.

One of the album’s standout tracks, “The King of Beaver Island,” returns to the historical themes the group is known for. “After the split of the Mormon church, there were two main figures involved, Brigham Young and a guy named Jesse Strang,” Muth explains. “Young eventually took control of the church and Strang relocated to Beaver Island (an island on northern Lake Michigan). At that point, he moved a group of Mormon settlers in and declared himself ‘King of Beaver Island.’” From 1850 to 1855, Beaver Island operated autonomously of the United States. To this day, it is the only “Kingdom” in U.S. history.

“Eventually, a group captured him and brought him to trial for treason in Detroit,” Muth continues. “He actually won his case, but was eventually assassinated by a group of his followers that he had offended when his take on polygamy led him to their wives,” he says with a smirk. In the song, Muth gloomily takes on the persona of Strang, singing “They said no man is an Island — well, you can call me no man.”

With such a strong album under its belt, Red Swan looks to continue touring and attracting new ears to its heavy rural rock. “Cold Winter’s Dawn” will appeal greatly to people who were into the band’s last album as well as new listeners who are fans of heavy, ambitious and hard-to-classify fare such as Mastodon, Dysrhythmia, or Isis but can also dig the righteous noise of Sonic Youth and the Jesus Lizard. Red Swan will appear on 88.9 the Impact’s ‘Basement’ program this Thursday with host Kate Brackney. - City Pulse Dec 14th, 2005

"Best local albums of 2005"

Another year has gone by in the heart of the rust belt and it’s time to take stock of what/why/who/where you’ve experienced, accomplished, consumed, and consummated in the past 365. Here is an easy-to-digest guide of the top-threes of 2005 in the categories of local albums and shows.

2. Red Swan – “Cold Winter’s

A bit of a last-minute entry, as Red Swan celebrated the release of this album only two weeks ago, “Cold Winter’s Dawn” caught this listener by surprise. A Lansing band with a tendency to fly under the local radar, Red Swan favored a noisy, warts-and-all approach with last year’s “After the Barn Goes.” Expecting a similar, good-but-not great offering from the 2005 follow-up, I was pleasantly surprised by an album where not only have the bars been raised on each member’s individual performance, but the song-writing actually stumbles upon some musical beauty. It’s one of the richest and fullest recordings from a Lansing act in any genre. Tossing aside some of the dissonance in favor of psychedelia, Red Swan delves into something wholly original that seems to mate the most adventurous rock of the late 60’s with some of the doomiest metal sounds of the 00’s — while simultaneously inviting over Irish folk rock and banjo virtuosity for the baby shower. Outstanding. - City Pulse- Cale Sauter Dec 28th, 2005

"SCTAS review"

Review: SCTAS Issue 8

SCTAS| Kaleb | Issue 8
"Last time I saw him, he was holdin' his bitch in heat"

There is something to be said for a song entitled 'You son of a bitch, you stole my woman, now I'm gunna burn down your Christmas tree farm'. What that something is shall be decided by the listener.

Have you ever - and you have, so the question is pointless - heard a band that reminded you of another band you liked, but failed to put a finger on that relation? Yes - as I said - you have, and Red Swan had me all in a frantic fit , knowing I was particularly fond of their dirty romp. Let's see, lyrics about taxes, murder, revenge.. . wait a goddamn second - Steve Albini had a hand in this. Shellac - that's who Red Swan brings to mind, the "fuck all humans" swank of Shellac, around the late '1000 Hurts' album (think "Prayer to God").
Vocalist / guitarist Tom Muth slings off lyrics like he belongs on Touch & Go, maybe 7 or 8 beers down and an entire set to go. The entire album comes of like it was recorded over a weekend that included several quarts of whiskey - and it all sounds like it was a damn good time. The music is noisy & layered - completely complimenting the words this guy is tossing around. 'What Really Happening at Rose Lake' brings to the front of the mind Primus on a steady diet of Clutch - then the banjo comes lurking on 'The First Ballad of Andy Kehoe', an instrumental (the 'second ballad' has vocals) that still has this "sharks in the ocean, swim careful" vibe. "Creepy" may be a good adjective to place here. Coming off as a band that may just be able to serve a few whippins', be it human or animal ('his feets been bound, he's got a broken neck / he's been like that for fourteen days",) ,hearing them may be the best advice I can give you partner. Also, them woods ain't no place for a stranger after dark - unless you like your asshole tickled. - SCTAS


2003: "Michigan Blood Games" 7"
2004: "After the Barn Goes" CD
2005: "Cold Winter's Dawn" CD



Began in the Autumn of 2002.

Members former bands include but not limited to: The Black Lungs, Vulture Island, The Tease, Island Uprising. Red Swan is from Lansing Michigan. Red Swan has played with such bands as Easy Action, U.S. Maple, The Lot Six, Valina, Suzukiton, Static Age, Eyes Like Knives, Funender, Junius, Rambler 454, Hondo and uncounted others. Red Swan has toured the country several times. Out last trip was in a converted short bus.