1. (noun) A large bird that is similar to but much larger than a goose. The most recognized type of swan is the Mute Swan, which is all white except for its black face, orange bill and black legs and feet. It is native to parts of Europe and has been artificially introduced to North America as somewhat of a "decorative bird." If geese mess with it, it will chase them away. If you mess with it, it will chase you away. If you see a swan nesting, run because her mate will get pissed and will start coming at you. Doesn't sound very intimidating, but when you're staring into the eyes of an oncoming angry swan, you'll understand.
2. (noun) Slang term for a female who was once unattractive but somehow became very attractive (referencing the "Ugly Duckling" story).
1. The swan swam gracefully across the pond.
Crap, that swan's not backing off, it's still coming at me...Screw this, I don't want to get beaten up by a bird!
2. Wow, remember when that girl was really ugly? She's such a swan.
One of the most important bands of the last 30 years. Swans started out in the early 80's as a post punk/no wave band that created crushingly heavy albums such as "Filth", "Cop", and "Holy Money." Albums that make Black/Death Metal bands with makeup that try to act scary seem like complete and utter pussies.
1987's "Children of God" was a big leap forward, one which bridged the gap between the brutal heaviness and the more experimental side of Swans (which became prominent in their later career in the 90's). It also featured more frequent contribution from their 2nd vocalist Jarboe.
In 1996 they released their magnum opus "Soundtracks for the Blind". A mammoth double album that inspired countless late 90's and 00's post rock bands. Most notably the hipster adored Godspeed You Black Emperor! Who have made a career out of milking and watering down the sound created by Swans. They do it well all things considered, but if you want the real thing kids... pick up Soundtracks for the Blind.
Swans broke up in 1997 but Michael Gira (going back on his word) has since reformed the band in 2010, and with a slew of additional musicians released the spectacular comeback album "My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky" to well deserved critical acclaim.
"The first Swans record I owned was Slave EP, and it absolutely blew me away... it was a sound that I always wanted to hear, just the bleakest and blackest. The minimalist approach of the music, that was what really influenced me. It was non-genre-specific, with a total lack of baggage... purely abstract, surreal, and violent. It communicated to me in a very special way, and taught me that heavy metal could be stripped of everything and reduced to its most primal form."