The Black Swans
“Joe Tex”

The Black Swan’s Jerry DeCicca prefaces most songs on Don’t Blame the Stars with a spoken word intro. “I’ve had sooo many favorite R&B singers.” he says early on the album. “Arthur Alexander, Percy Mayfield, Barbara Linn, Otis, Aretha, but for a long while now the one that’s been speakin’ me the most is Joe Tex. He’s a beautiful man and he’s here to help us. And this song’s for him.” Then “Joe Tex” bursts in with two distinctly Mr. Rogers-worthy chords, a fake out before settling into a more natural lite-70s vibe, very easy and smooth, the mode this style of folk music seems to thrive in. Other songs are dedicated to Roy Orbison and Prince. Nice! Don’t Blame the Stars is out now on Misra Records.

• The Black Swans:
• Misra:

Ellen Fullman


Ellen Fullman, who has worked with Barn Owl and released a split LP with Eleh, recently unveiled her debut full-length, Through Glass Panes, on Important. “Flowers,” an adaptation from Stratified Bands: Last Kind Words, was originally composed for The Kronos Quartet and features Fullman’s “Long String Instrument” (see above), which is, according to Important, “an installation of dozens of wires fifty feet or more in length, tuned in Just Intonation and ‘bowed’ with rosin coated fingers.” Hope she’s up for giving some private Long String Instrument lessons, because I’m about to IM her.

• Ellen Fullman:
• Important:

Cliffie Swan

“California Baby”

Cliffie Swan (formerly Lights) have a new album, Memories Come True, out now on Drag City. Here’s the video for “California Baby.” Later!

• Cliffie Swan:
• Drag City:

[Photo: Angel Ceballos]


“Groan Man, Don’t Cry”

As we reported thousands of years ago, Nick Zammuto has started a new band called Zammuto. The group plans to release songs as they record them, so what we have here is their second new track, “Groan Man, Don’t Cry.” Nick says the track’s organ theme is originally taken from a soundtrack he made for Achante - Lives of the Saints, a film about Haitian Voodoo that’ll hit the film festival circuit later this year.

• Zammuto:
• The Books:


“Ikkunat Näkevät”

After releasing two fantastic albums (2005’s Yhä hämärää and 2008’s Laulu laakson kukista) and a DVD (Unien Savonlinna), Paavoharju — a Finnish group of ascetic Christians — return with an EP featuring rare/unreleased tracks and three new songs, including the title track streaming above. It’s titled Ikkunat Näkevät (why not?), and it’s out on Fonal.

• Paavoharju:
• Fonal:



Cheer-Accident have been around for a whiiiiile. Their discography seems even broader considering the continued quality of their output. Who gets proggier with age? “Sleep” comes from their 17th album, No Ifs Ands or Dogs, and it’s quite the 90s-style weirdo pop-rock number, reminiscent of Mike Patton’s Mr. Bungle project – or maybe that should be the other way around?

• Cheer Accident:
• Cuneiform:



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CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we'll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.