tectactoe
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Last Active 12-19-19 2:55 pm
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MUSIC: tectac's Swans, Ranked

Have been a favorite of mine for a while now, and while I'd normally be prepping to see them live in a month - but won't, thanks to Coronavirus - I figured I'd just listen to their discography front to back and rank it. (I'd heard everything prior to this, but have never taken the plunge to go chronologically through them all, back to back to back ad infinitum.) Honestly enjoy everything on this list, even the ones at the very bottom. No live albums included.
17Swans
Young God


While this is arguably just an annex of 'Cop', which ranks quite a bit higher on this list, I somehow never completely jelled with the four songs offered up here. Doesn't help that I prefer the first two over the last two, meaning that I rarely make it through this four-track EP in its entirety. Overbearing and grim, but Swans have done those two things to significantly more devastating effect imo.

BEST TRACKS: I Crawled; Raping a Slave
WORST TRACKS: Young God; This Is Mine
16Swans
The Burning World


The ubiquitous black sheep of the Swans discography, and why not? Sounds like some hybrid of gothic folk and alt-country, darker and more brooding than Angels of Light but not nearly as energetic or demanding as typical Swans stuff. Not sure what the purpose of this was, as it feels more like a dry run for something that never came to fruition, but alas: There are a handful of worthy tracks as well as a handful of forgettable ones. Nothing superlative, nothing offensive.

BEST TRACKS: See No More; God Damn the Sun
WORST TRACKS: Saved; I Remember Who You Are
15Swans
Greed


A surprisingly "soft" release compared to its relentlessly bleak predecessor, plus we have the additional of Jarboe which is sometimes charming and sometimes frightening. This is, to my mind, a warm up for 'Holy Money', where they'd whittle down a lot of what they were going for here, even if it's not a sound that generally gets me excited.

BEST TRACKS: Fool; Stupid Child
WORST TRACKS: Anything For You; Heaven
14Swans
Holy Money


I actually think this is half-great and half-okay, resulting in an overall experience that's slightly underwhelming, but still plenty favorable. In fact, if you combined the best tracks from this with the best tracks from 'Greed', you'd have a composite that might rival 'Filth' for the top "early Swans" release. The industrial overtones are bit more polished and appropriately distributed here, making it my preferred of the two by a little bit.

BEST TRACKS: A Hanging; Another You
WORST TRACKS: You Need Me; Money Is Flesh (#2)
13Swans
Love of Life


Feels exactly like what it probably was: Collective overflow from the creation of 'White Light'. But there's nothing wrong with that, because Swans b-sides are better than a lot of bands' top-tier efforts. This is like the awkward teenage years of their discography, but looking back, there's something strangely endearing about that.

BEST TRACKS: Amnesia; Love of Life
WORST TRACKS: Identity; God Loves America (not including the useless interludes)
12Swans
Leaving Meaning


Not what most people excepted, but then again, given how many different sounds Swans have embodied over their multi-decade romp through various lineups, what the hell was anyone expecting? It's like Swans with the distortion turned off and the mood lighting turned way down. And part of me kinda likes that, even if I was hoping for something just a bit more...aggressive? But I can't complain - all the Swans albums are my children.

BEST TRACKS: The Hanging Man; My Phantom Limb
WORST TRACKS: Hums; Some New Things
11Swans
My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky


A strange "comeback", if you will, but one I've grown to appreciate more and more with time. Used to think it was Gira trying too hard to pull his Angels of Light tendencies into the spotlight, but every time I revisit this, it sounds increasingly like a Swans record and not a strange Gira side project. Still, hard to believe 'The Seer' was released merely two years later.

BEST TRACKS: No Words / No Thoughts; Eden Prison
WORST TRACKS: Reeling the Liars In; Little Mouth
10Swans
Cop


Absolutely brutal. And honestly, if you're looking for an album to kick your teeth in, bludgeon your head to death, bury you underground, and shit on the cold earth where your lifeless body lay, this is *perfect* for that. It just so happens that I'm not (always) a psychopath, and rarely find myself in the correct state of mind to endure this grueling beast. But - BUT! When I *am* in that particularly gloomy mood, there's nothing like this.

BEST TRACKS: Half Life; Your Property
WORST TRACKS: Job; Thug
9Swans
White Light From the Mouth of Infinity


Clearly the better counterpart of the 'White Light'/'Love of Life' diptych - don't trust anyone who believes otherwise. You can listen to this and hear a lot of Angels of Light (and that general direction in which Gira was headed) - it's lovely and beautiful at times, and depressing and melancholic at others. Not an album I listen to often, but one I'm always happy to revisit.

BEST TRACKS: Power and Sacrifice; Song for the Sun
WORST TRACKS: Song for Dead Time; When She Breathes
8Swans
The Great Annihilator


You could trim some of the fat on this bad boy and turn it into a phenomenal 11 or 12 track album. As it stands, it's a great album with a bit of filler. There was a day when I preferred this to 'Soundtracks for the Blind', but that day is clearly no longer. Unmissible for Swans fans, though.

BEST TRACKS: Mother / Father; She Lives!
WORST TRACKS: In; Out; Blood Promise; Alcohol the Seed
7Swans
The Glowing Man


Not as unique or unprecedented or interesting or gripping as the previous two records from the "post-rock-drone" Swans trilogy, but still excellent, and still plenty to love for those of us who enjoyed this iteration of Swans. Perhaps too cyclic and calm by comparison, but if *this* had come out before 'The Seer', I wonder if its appraisal would be different?

BEST TRACKS: The Glowing Man; Cloud of Unknowing
WORST TRACKS: People Like Us; When Will I Return?
6Swans
Children of God


Took me a while to see what everyone else saw in this, but once I finally saw it, it cannot be unseen. Achieves a catheral-like atmosphere built of both beauty and doom, and acts as a fine bridge between early-Swans and mid-to-late-Swans. Or....well, depends on how many eras you want to define, I guess.

BEST TRACKS: New Mind; Like a Drug (Sha La La La)
WORST TRACKS: Sex, God, Sex; Real Love
5Swans
Swans


This is super fucking underrated and no one ever talks about it when they talk about Swans. WHY?! The closest approximation they have to the true essence of New York's no wave scene, but with their own gritty spin on it. Might only be four tracks long but goddamn it's great.

BEST TRACKS: I mean there's only four songs. They're all fantastic. 'Laugh' is probably my favorite and 'Take Advantage' my least favorite, though.
4Swans
Soundtracks for the Blind


When people say this is one of those albums that you need to "be in the mood for" and "submit yourself to" and "listen to in a dark room with headphones" and all that other pretentious rhetoric...well... they're actually absolutely correct. Though I'll admit I've listened to this album white mowing the lawn and driving across the state on several occasions. It fucks either way, but devoting proper headspace to it really does heighten the experience.

BEST TRACKS: Helpless Child; The Sound; Hypogirl
WORST TRACKS: Yum-Yab Killers; Mellothumb; Yrp 2
3Swans
The Seer


I remember when this came out and I looked up the track list and saw that the title track was over thirty minutes long and laughed it off as some mega try-hard wankery. Then I listened to it and was pretty much in tears by the end, so there you have it. After having been somewhat weirded out by the Swans revival album ("My Father"), I was mostly blown away by this.

BEST TRACKS: Mother of the World; The Apostate
WORST TRACKS: The Wolf; The Daughter Brings the Water
2Swans
Filth


Perhaps no Swans album has grown on me quite as much as Filth, but I'll be damned if this thing isn't very nearly perfect. Contains much of the grit spackled into the three releases that would follow while maintaining a sense of...not "catchiness", but...something. There's *something* here that makes me want to, I dunno, groove? Dance? Occasionally smash my face into a wall? Sounds about right.

BEST TRACKS: Stay Here; Power for Power
WORST TRACKS: Freak; Gang
1Swans
To Be Kind


The first time I heard this, not long after its release in 2014, was at the gym. It was back day and I hurt something in my lower back doing really heavy deadlifts that day. I remember wanting to die while the climax of 'A Little God in My Hands' was going on. Pretty fitting. Album rules, I'm sorry to neo-Swans haters. Probably one of my favorites of the last decade, too.

BEST TRACKS: Bring The Sun / Toussaint L'Ouverture; She Loves Us
WORST TRACKS: Some Things We Do; Kirsten Supine
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