Swear and Shake
In a city that offers endless new sounds, New York-based band Swear & Shake’s loyal fan base and earnest talent have driven them on tours across the US and into the focal point of fawning critics. The band’s star seems to be continually on the rise, as they play premiere Manhattan and Brooklyn venues on the heals of their fully-Kickstarter-funded LP, Maple Ridge.
Swear & Shake is Kari Spieler (vocals, lyrics, guitar), Adam McHeffey (vocals, lyrics, guitar, banjo, piano), Shaun Savage (electric bass), and Ben Goldstein (percussion). The band formed in 2010 after Kari helped Adam record a demo one of his original songs, “Johnnie.” From that moment, they knew they were on to something good. Adam recruited longtime friends Shaun and Ben to flesh out the sounds behind Kari’s soulful, smoky voice and Adam’s catchy folk strumming.
The buzz began building from their first release in November 2010, a five track album aptly titled “Extended Play,” which received over 200,000 Creative Commons downloads in North American and Europe. In the first few months, favorite tunes like “Johnnie” and “Bones” started to pop up in covers on YouTube. Newsday praised the band, comparing them to indie darlings Mumford & Sons and Bon Iver. New York’s The Deli described front lady Kari’s pipes as “gorgeously full,” and Brooklyn Belles compared her to “a young June Carter Cash.” David Malachowski of the Daily Freeman made clear that Swear and Shake is more than fun sounds and pretty faces. “A haunting postcard from a faraway, warmer place, Spieler’s moving, heartfelt delivery takes this to a higher place,” writes Malachowski. “Daring and direct, Swear & Shake points a finger at you, and you can’t help but respond. Well done.”
Building on this momentum, in 2012 Swear and Shake released “Maple Ridge”, their fully Kickstarter funded debut record. The press immediately took notice, with Time Out New York declaring the record “postcard-perfect indie folk with an undercurrent of sly humor.” My Old Kentucky Blog stated “It seems impossible that NYC band Swear and Shake remain unsigned and without a big promo machine behind them. The catchiness of their single ‘These White Walls’ is undeniable.”
Despite the band’s critical acclaim, attending a Swear & Shake show feels like a cozy, crowded room of old friends where a guitar is picked up as the last bottle is poured. The Blue Indian named them their “Band Of The Month” after the following experience: “I’ve only seen a few artists bring a room to a hush, only to have their audience hooping and hollering moments later, and these four talented Yankees have joyfully mastered their ability to do so. By the end of the first song, we were out of our seats and upfront. Strangers instantly became neighbors as the entire venue was swept up in the action.”
Swear and Shake will be keeping that action going in 2013, with a US Tour in support of G. Love & Special Sauce, a spot on The Rock Boat, and an official showcase at SXSW. An EP of new songs is expected to see release in Spring of 2013, a sure sign that this hard working Brooklyn band will continue to make waves within the ever-popular indie-folk scene.