Locals Only: The Black Swans

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Jerry DeCicca has been known to mumble.

Listeners sometimes have trouble parsing through the Black Swans singer's measured bellow. But then, we all struggle to communicate; hence "Words Are Stupid," the band's new album to be celebrated with a show Saturday at Rumba Cafe.

"We've all agreed to use words to express ourselves, and yet the way they're used or the way they're not used and the way they're understood by different people can kind of go haywire," DeCicca said.

Instrumentals by the late Noel Sayre bookend "Words Are Stupid." The band, now including Canaan Faulkner, Chris Forbes, Keith Hanlon and Tyler Evans, wanted to include their longtime violinist on one more album; using Sayre's wordless compositions seemed fitting for an album defined by the inadequacy of language.

As usual, DeCicca's slow-burn folk tunes indulge in the mournful and the absurd. He vacillates from the simple humor of comic strips ("Funny Papers") to the morbid consequences of leaving love unspoken ("Mary Price").

On "Rooster," he sings: "No longer do we need words/ To make our dreams come true/ Now that I'm an artist/ And I can express myself/ With a cock-a-doodle-do." Man-made clucks ensue, followed by primate squawks on "Monkey Man." It ends with Sayre's posthumous kazoo solo.

The mouth sounds exist inside the band's sparest and most immediate music. DeCicca normally spends two years laboring over an album, but he moved quickly in response to an invite from respected indie label Secretly Canadian's St. Ives imprint. For the first time, parts and arrangements were worked out in the studio.

The Black Swans already had a new album, "Don't Blame the Stars," in the can, but they decided to shelve it until later this year. For that record - the band's consensus favorite - DeCicca promises major keys and "proper choruses ... stuff we hadn't done before that I usually dislike in most modern music but that I like in a lot of '60s and '70s music."

In the meantime, there's "Words Are Stupid," a digital release accompanied by 200 limited-edition vinyl LPs. Due to a scheduling mix-up, it won't be available until April 27, so Saturday's release show won't actually feature the new release - another communication breakdown.

When: 10 p.m. Saturday, April 3

Where: Rumba Cafe, Campus

Web: theblackswans.com