Playing dark but sadly beautiful folk-influenced indie rock, the Columbus, Ohio-based Black Swans were initially centered around the core trio of guitarist and singer Jerry DeCicca, violinist Noel Sayre, and bassist Canaan Faulkner, though many of their recordings and live shows have found them expanding their sound with an ever-changing variety of guest musicians. The group was formed in 1999, but its early progress was stalled when circumstances forced Sayre to relocate to West Virginia for several years, and while the group began writing material for its debut album in 2000, it wasn't until 2004 (two years after the band began recording) that Who Will Walk in the Darkness with You? was released by the Nashville-based independent label Delmore Recording Society. The Black Swans' next recording project was on a somewhat smaller scale -- a 7" vinyl EP called Sex Brain, which over the course of five songs focused on the war between the id and the superego.
After earning critical acclaim for their first two records and sharing stages with the likes of Okkervil River, Damon & Naomi, Michael Hurley, Richard Buckner, Mark Eitzel, and the Schramms, the Black Swans released their second full-length album, Change!, in the fall of 2007. The CD edition was released by La Société Expéditionnaire, while the Black Swans created something special for the vinyl version of Change! -- each LP cover featured an original piece of hand-painted artwork created by students at the Arc North Workshop, a learning facility for the developmentally challenged in Columbus.
In 2008, tragedy struck the band when Sayre died due to a swimming accident at a public pool. In April 2010, the Black Swans released Words Are Stupid on St. Ives, a boutique label created by the folks at Secretly Canadian. Another conceptual work about the failures of language, some of its songs contained spare violin parts that were found on Sayre's hard drive posthumously. It was released both in an edition of 250 vinyl LPs and for digital download. The Black Swans emerged again in the spring of 2011 with Don't Blame the Stars, this time on the Misra imprint. The band followed up in the summer of 2012 with Occasion for Song. ~ Mark Deming