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Sufjan Stevens

Seven Swans - 20th Anniversary Edition

    The follow-up to 2003’s ‘Michigan’, Sufjan Stevens’ ‘Seven Swans’ was released originally in 2004. The Guardian dubbed it “a record of remarkable delicacy,” and Billboard called it a “consistently moving, subtly beautiful experience.”

    The folk songs of Sufjan’s ‘Seven Swans’ occupy a singular space in his catalogue. The quiet, psalm-like music arrived less than a year after his 2003 breakthrough album, ‘Michigan’ and his much-publicized announcement to write an album for each of the 50 states. Just as wider audiences were becoming acquainted with the ever-evolving artist—who had, by this point, released a lo-fi folk-pop collage (2000’s ‘A Sun Came’), a Zodiac-inspired electronic suite (2001’s ‘Enjoy Your Rabbit’), and a grand, orchestral epic to kickstart his exploration of the country (‘Michigan’)—he re-introduced himself in hushed tones.

    Despite cultivating a vast influence that spans genres, ‘Seven Swans’ is defined by its sense of intimacy. Think of it as Stevens’ self-penned book of prayer, a talisman that’s never been far from reach. This was a time in his career when his songwriting dealt explicitly with themes of Christianity, and his stark performances helped bring the celestial down to earth. Staples of his songbook like “The Dress Looks Nice on You” and “To Be Alone With You” are disarming in their gentleness, and for every gesture toward a divine presence, Stevens knew how to balance it with a vulnerable expression of humanity, using the language of love songs to outline the shadow of uncertainty in devoting ourselves to something bigger. Listening to ‘Seven Swans’ leaves us with enough hope, mystery, and wisdom to make it feel alive and exalting whenever we return.

    To celebrate the 20th anniversary of this now-beloved piece of Sufjan’s catalogue, AKR is releasing a Dinked Edition exclusive. Pressed on cream-in-black corona vinyl and housed in a matte jacket with embossing and a spot gloss finish, the LP package will include a flexi disc featuring two bonus tracks, “I Went Dancing With My Sister” and “Waste of What Your Kids Won't Have.” The Dinked edition also comes with seven sheets of origami paper, in order to craft seven origami swans.


    TRACK LISTING

    Side A
    All The Trees Of The Field Will Clap Their Hands
    The Dress Looks Nice On You
    In The Devil’s Territory
    To Be Alone With You
    Abraham
    Sister

    Side B
    1. Size Too Small
    2. We Won’t Need Legs To Stand
    3. A Good Man Is Hard To Find
    4. He Woke Me Up Again
    5. Seven Swans
    6. The Transfiguration

    Flexi Disc
    I Went Dancing With My Sister
    Waste Of What Your Kids Won’t Have

    Paul Simpson

    Revolutionary Spirit : A Post-Punk Exorcism: The Teardrop Explodes, Care, The Wild Swans, And Beyond

      Part memoir, part social history, Revolutionary Spirit is the poignant, often hilarious story of a cult Liverpool musician s scenic route to fame and artistic validation. If Morrissey was the Oscar Wilde of the 1980s indie scene, Simpson was its William Blake, a self-destructive genius so lost in mystical visions of a new arcadia that he couldn t meet the rent. Simpson s career begins alongside fellow Liverpool luminaries Julian Cope, Ian McCulloch, Bill Drummond, Ian Broudie, Will Sergeant, Pete Wylie, Pete Burns, and Pete de Freitas at the infamous Eric s club, where, in 1976, he finds himself at the birth of the city s second great musical explosion.

      Along the way, he co-founds and christens the neo-psychedelic pop group The Teardrop Explodes, shares a flat with a teenage Courtney Love, and forms The Wild Swans, the indie band of choice for literary-minded teens in the early 1980s, who burn bright and brief, in the process recording one of the all-time great cult hit singles, Revolutionary Spirit . Marriage, fatherhood, and tropical illness follow, interspersed with artistic collaborations with Bill Drummond and members of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, among others. Following an onstage reunion with Cope at the Royal Festival Hall, Simpson discovers that seven thousand miles away, in the Philippines, he is considered a musical god.

      Presidential suites, armed guards, police escorts . . .

      you couldn t make it up, and, incredibly, he doesn t need to. Revolutionary Spirit marks the arrival of an original literary voice. It is the story of a musician driven by an unerring belief that artistic integrity will bring its own rewards, and an elliptical elegy to the ways it does.

      Swans

      Feel Good Now

        Swans’ second live album Feel Good Now is available on vinyl for the first time since its original limited edition release in 1988, via Mute / Young God Records.

        Feel Good Now is a collection of live recordings from their 1987 European tour, recorded by the band's sound engineer on a Sony Professional Walkman, with many of the tracks being from their album Children of God, which was released the same year.

        This follows the re-release of their first live album Public Castration Is a Good Idea and their brand new album The Beggar, released in June 2023. Led by Michael Gira, Swans formed in 1982 and have produced a series of diverse albums both before their disbandment in 1997 and after their reformation in 2010. During this time Swans have made their mark as masters of their craft and are an influential band for countless experimental and post-rock acts.

        TRACK LISTING

        1. New Mind (Live)
        2. Blood And Honey (Live)
        3. Trust Me (Live)
        4. Sex God Sex (Live)
        5. Like A Drug (Sha La La La) (Live)
        6. Beautiful Child (Live)
        7. Blackmail (Live)
        8. Children Of God (Live)
        9. Beautiful Child Reprise (Live)
        10. Blind Love (Live)
        11. Thank You, Goodbye (Live)
        12. Good Luck (Live)

        Swans

        The Beggar

          Swans present their sixteenth studio album The Beggar.

          The Beggar was written and produced by founding member Michael Gira and features contributions from recent and former Swans members, members of Angels Of Light, as well as guest Swan Ben Frost.

          Following 2019’s leaving meaning, the album emerged from the 2020 lockdown with Micheal explaining, “after numerous pandemic-induced cancellations of tours for the previous Swans album leaving meaning, and an apparent bottomless pit of waiting, waiting, waiting, and the strange disorientation that came with this sudden but interminable forced isolation I decided it was time to write songs for a new Swans album and forget about everything else. They came relatively easily, always informed by the suspicion that these could be my last. When I finally was able to travel, songs in hand, to Berlin to work with my friends recording this record, the feeling was akin to the moment in The Wizard of Oz when the film changes from Black and White to Color. Now I’m feeling quite optimistic. My favourite color is pink. I hope you enjoy the album.”


          STAFF COMMENTS

          Barry says: There are few bands more incendiary than Swans, and 'The Beggar' has been a hotly anticipated arrival in the shop for me especially. The atmospheric gloom and soaring heft of Gira & Co's previous LP's is as present as ever, but lightened with a (dare I say it?) more song-based structure to a few of the pieces. It's classic swans, but it's also a perfect sidestep for one of the most visceral bands in the game.

          TRACK LISTING

          Vinyl Tracklist:
          1. Paradise Is Mine
          2. The Beggar
          3. Los Angeles: City Of Death
          4. The Parasite
          5. The Memorious
          6. Michael Is Done
          7. Why Can't I Have What I Want Any Time That I Want
          8. Unforming
          9. Ebbing
          10. No More Of This

          + 'The Beggar Lover (Three)' Included In The Digital Download.

          CD Tracklist
          CD1
          1. The Parasite
          2. Paradise Is Mine
          3. Los Angeles: City Of Death
          4. Michael Is Done
          5. Unforming
          6. The Beggar
          7. No More Of This
          8. Ebbing
          9. Why Can't I Have What I Want Any Time That I Want?
          CD2
          1. The Beggar Lover (Three)
          2. The Memorious

          Swans

          Leaving Meaning.

            'Leaving meaning.' is the band’s fifteenth studio album, the follow up to 2016’s 'The Glowing Man'. Written and produced by Michael Gira, the album features contributions from recent and former Swans, members of Angels of Light as well as Anna and Maria von Hausswolff, Ben Frost, The Necks, Baby Dee and Jennifer Gira.

            Michael Gira explains, “leaving meaning. is the first Swans album to be released since I dissolved the lineup of musicians that constituted Swans from 2010 – 2017. Swans is now comprised of a revolving cast of musicians, selected for both their musical and personal character, chosen according to what I intuit best suits the atmosphere in which I’d like to see the songs I’ve written presented. In collaboration with me, the musicians, through their personality, skill and taste, contribute greatly to the arrangement of the material. They’re all people whose work I admire and whose company I personally enjoy.”


            STAFF COMMENTS

            Barry says: Michael Gira is a man who clearly can't quit (nor should he). Having given up on the band a number of times, in the midst smashing out some truly amazing albums, he always returns. This iteration of the band includes all the sounds we'd expect from Gira but bolstered by the perfectly selected cast of collaborators and co-conspirators.

            TRACK LISTING

            LP
            A1 Annaline
            A2 The Hanging Man
            A3 Amnesia
            B1 Leaving Meaning
            B2 Sunfucker
            C1 Hums
            C2 Cathedrals Of Heaven
            C3 The Nub
            D1 It's Coming It's Real
            D2 What Is This?
            D3 My Phantom Limb

            CD
            CD1
            1 Hums
            2 Annaline
            3 The Hanging Man
            4 Amnesia
            5 Leaving Meaning
            6 Sunfucker
            CD2
            1 Cathedrals Of Heaven
            2 The Nub
            3 It's Coming It's Real
            4 Some New Things
            5 What Is This?
            6 My Phantom Limb

            Swans

            The Glowing Man

              After 2014’s epic To Be Kind, SWANS return with a new album, The Glowing Man, announced as the last album release of Swans’ current incarnation.
              The Glowing Man was recorded at Sonic Ranch, near El Paso, Texas, with John Congleton as recording engineer. Further recordings were made in Dallas, Seattle and Berlin.

              Swans, led by Michael Gira, formed in 1982 and, after disbanding in 1997, returned with the critically acclaimed albums My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky (2010), 2012’s The Seer and 2014’s To Be Kind.


              STAFF COMMENTS

              Barry says: Another monolithic collection from gloom-merchants Swans. Equal parts brooding and pensive, but with a rarely embraced melodic sensibility. Further evidence of their unrivalled talents.

              TRACK LISTING

              2CD
              Disc 1
              1. Cloud Of Forgetting
              2. Cloud Of Unknowing
              3. The World Looks Red / The World Looks Black
              4. People Like Us

              Disc 2
              5. Frankie M
              6. When Will I Return
              7. The Glowing Man
              8. Finally Peace

              2CD / DVD
              Disc 1
              1. Cloud Of Forgetting
              2. Cloud Of Unknowing
              3. The World Looks Red / The World Looks Black
              4. People Like Us

              Disc 2
              5. Frankie M
              6. When Will I Return
              7. The Glowing Man
              8. Finally Peace
              DVD – Swans Live 2015

              TRIPLE VINYL (With Poster)
              Side 1
              1 Cloud Of Forgetting
              2 Cloud Of Unknowing

              Side 2
              3 Cloud Of Unknowing Pt2

              Side 3
              4 The World Looks Red / The World Looks Black
              5 People Like Us

              Side 4
              6 Frankie M

              Side 5
              7 When Will I Return
              8 The Glowing Man Pt1

              Side 6
              9 The Glowing Man Pt2
              10 Finally Peace

              The Swans

              Love Of Life

                Led by Michael Gira, Swans formed in 1982 and, after disbanding in 1997, returned with the critically acclaimed albums ‘My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky’ (2010), ‘The Seer’ (2012) and 2014’s ‘To Be Kind’.

                Swans’ classic album ‘Love Of Life’ (1992) is now re-mastered and reissued as a deluxe vinyl edition with an exclusive poster and digital download code.

                The digital download code for ‘Love Of Life’ also includes 18 bonus tracks.

                Swans

                The Seer

                  "The Seer took 30 years to make. It’s the culmination of every previous Swans album as well as any other music I’ve ever made, been involved in, or imagined. But it’s unfinished, like the songs themselves. It’s one frame in a reel. The frames blur, blend and will eventually fade.

                  The songs began on an acoustic guitar, then were fleshed out with (invaluable) help from my friends, then were further tortured and seduced in rehearsals, live, and in the studio, and now they await further cannibalism and force-feeding as we prepare to perform some of them live, at which point they’ll mutate further, endlessly, or perhaps be discarded for a while.

                  Despite what you might have heard or presumed, my quest is to spread light and joy through the world. My friends in Swans are all stellar men. Without them I’m a kitten, an infant. Our goal is the same: ecstasy!" - Michael Gira.

                  “For the last two years, one of the world’s most bellicose bands has paid respect to its legacy largely by leaving it alone and tried to expand it by testing its old limits … this is exactly the kind of forward-pointing roadmark Swans deserve.” —Pitchfork

                  “The Swans are currently the greatest rock band on the planet....” —The Quietus

                  “[Gira] is looking for beauty, pure and simple, unfettered by meaning or standard songwriting notions of emotional resonance.” —The Wire



                  STAFF COMMENTS

                  Darryl says: The mighty Swans return with 'The Seer'. From ribcage crushing noise to gentle acoustic passages, this has all the hallmarks of the classic Swans "sound"; intense, powerful and pure.

                  TRACK LISTING

                  1. Lunacy
                  2. Mother Of The World
                  3. The Wolf
                  4. The Seer
                  5. The Seer Returns
                  6. 93 Ave. B Blues
                  7. The Daughter Brings The Water
                  8. Song For A Warrior
                  9. Avatar
                  10. A Piece Of The Sky
                  11. The Apostate …

                  Swans

                  My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky

                    After years of pursuing Angels of Light and recording and producing a diverse roster of artists for his Young God label, Michael Gira has reconvened his legendary group Swans. As he says: 'This is not a reunion. It's not some dumb-ass nostalgia act. It is not repeating the past. After five Angels of Light albums, I need a way to move forward, in a new direction, and it just so happens that revivifying the idea of Swans allows me to do that'.

                    This highly anticipated album is as powerful and diverse as anything Gira's ever done, in Swans or otherwise. It opens with the epic, soul-crushing "No Words / No Thoughts", but quickly veers to more pastoral terrain, and on to ever-ascending monotonal grooves. A filmic-folk idyll featuring Devendra Banhart on lead vocal abruptly shifts to cataclysm, and is followed by more airplane-taking-off ascensions, art songs and lethal sonic pummelling. In short, this is the new Swans album, a significant advance from where they left off and as challenging and emotionally demanding as ever.

                    STAFF COMMENTS

                    Darryl says: An album that encompasses all that is the Swans; from the brutal pummelling of your rib cage to the gentle caressing of your senses, this is the Swans on majestic top form. The swans are back, long live the Swans!

                    TRACK LISTING

                    1. No Worlds / No Thoughts
                    2. Reeling The Liars In
                    3. Jim
                    4. My Birth
                    5. You Fucking People Make Me Sick
                    6. Inside Madeline
                    7. Eden Prison
                    8. Little Mouth

                    Sufjan Stevens

                    Seven Swans

                      THE PICCADILLY RECORDS ALBUM OF THE YEAR 2004

                      This is wonderful! Sufjan has created another stunning album, by blending pastoral folk songs, with a whole host of unusual instrumentation, including electric piano, xylophone and glockenspiel that at times are reminiscent of Philip Glass, occasional bursts of frantic but melodic banjo, and various brass and woodwind instruments and the whole thing is held together through out by some stunningly simple acoustic guitar and fragile, half whispered vocals.


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