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Wednesday, October 11, 2006



I was startled by a mouse run across the floor while I was writing this review, and when I heard some weird crunching noises from beyond my headphones, I thought that maybe the mice had gotten into the dog’s food, and so I got up slowly… leaned over to check out the closet, aka “the scene of the crime.” The next thing I know is that my laptop (the next few moments were like a whirlwind of trauma) which was sitting on a tray table was teetering on the edge of the table and then I feel this pull on my foot and then CRASH my computer hits the ground (seemingly unharmed) and I quickly tumble down with it. Yep, this is quite embarrassing, but the companion tray table was somewhere caught in between the wall, couch, the computer, and myself, and I took the motherfucker out. It’s in like four pieces, which would in the past not be a problem, but I’m just hoping that the girlfriend has a sense of humor about the thing. I'm pretty sure that she will... anyhoo

The Black Swans Sex Brain (Bwatue, 2006)

I don’t know how Vertical Phil was able to convince Jerry DeCicca to give him a cd-r of Where is David Blue Tonight? I have a hunch that Phil swayed DeCicca with his unmistakable drunken charm and most likely an oath not to play it for anybody, but I think that Phil went straight over to my house with it and immediately put it on. I had seen DeCicca play solo a few months before and was pretty damn impressed, but I had yet to see his band before I heard the recording; I think Phil and I went to every single Black Swans show for about a year and a half because the album struck such a chord with us. This was in the formative stages of The Vertical Slum, and I remember coming up with tons of questions for an interview that Phil would go on to do with DeCicca for one issue. Usually, it’s a bit difficult to come up with interesting questions for interviews, but we had pages (literally) of questions that we were dying to ask him, and frankly we were really impressed with all of his answers. DeCicca’s style of singing (which is typically the make-it-or-break-it) at the time was so fragile, delicate and intentional that it was almost overpowering on The Black Swans’ debut album, which would eventually be renamed Who Will Walk In The Darkness With You? before finding release on the small label Delmore Recording Society almost three years ago.

Who Will Walk In The Darkness With You? was my pick for best debut of the year (by a longshot, actually), and this new self-released EP is probably gonna end up on this year’s best EP list, as it is absolutely fantastic. Sex Brain is evident of DeCicca’s incredible ability to fine-tune The Black Swans approach. In a way, they are almost the complete opposite of the band that they used to be. Of course, with the exception of the core group of DeCicca and violinist Noel Sayre we are talking about a different band. The Black Swans of Darkness were soft, subtle, and haunting, but on Sex Brain, and especially on the shocker opening track “I.D.W.2 F.” The Black Swans are a loose, and uninhabited, and dare I say… joyous folk unit. Very odd to think of these guys as joyous, but there is a definite excitement in the room when you are running on all cylinders and you bet your buck that it’s evident on this ep. Even the subject matter is a bit lighter, or I should say, a bit more humorous… let me quote a few lines from each of the songs to illustrate my point (*in hindsight I think that Pitchfork may have also quoted some lines when they reviewed this, but I can't really remember... anyway, to quote lines from this EP is almost irresistable, because they are so elegantly romantic, humorous, and crude):

“I don't want to fuck/ I just want to spoon/ I'm too sensitive of a man/ To be any closer to you.”
(the great opening line from “I.D.W.2 F.)

“Tequila, my friend/ She pulled my pants down/ and said she knows/ My girlfriend.”
(from “Friends”)

“It was sweat and shampoo/ Now it's cocoa butter lotion/ and I dream of your hair/ In my afternoon motion/ And your hands/ Are better than mine/ and your hands/ Aren't here at my side.”
(from “Your Hands”)

“Can you feel them swell beside you?/ Shoo the fruit flies out of your way/ It's been like this for two months/ Are we too good of friends to play?”
(from “Dark Plums”)

and we’ll end it like this:
“My chest on your back/ My lips tickling your arm/ I'm counting brown freckles/ You're making silky white tar/ Will we wear out our welcome/ As closeness grows dull?/ Our bodies too familiar/ My hard-on sinks into a lull.”
(from “My Lips”)

Yes, yes, yes, Sex Brain gets my full A+ endorsement; if you were not a fan of their heavy debut, give this one a shot, because frankly it is better… which should speak volumes as to the greatness of this little five-songer.

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