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 and release their fully-Kickstarter-funded LP, Maple Ridge, only a year after their formation.
Swear & Shake is Kari Spieler (vocals, lyrics, guitar), Adam McHeffey (vocals, lyrics, guitar, banjo, piano), Shaun Savage (electric bass), and Tom Elefante (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 Tom to flesh out the sounds behind Kari's soulful, smoky voice and Adam's catchy folk strumming.
The band was a hit 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.” Frost Click called the band’s EP a “treat” and writes, “There's no denying the fact that Swear and Shake know how to make amazing sounds. The quartet has a knack for creating a wonderful balance of emotion, instruments, vocals and lyrics; making you want to listen more and more.”
Writing about their appearance at B.O.M.B. Fest opening for Weezer and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Connecticut's Culture Cache called their sound, "expansive, majestic, harmony-heavy," and music blog The Indie Kollection wrote, “Musical discoveries like these make me want to move to NY.” Luckily, there's still time to make the move considering blog The Feast called them "a mainstay on the New York scene."
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. Shows at New York institutions like The Living Room, Pete's Candy Store, The Knitting Factory, Arlene's Grocery, and the Bitter End have been raucous and full of laughter and dancing. Music blog Sounds That Matter, who had the band record a video for their site testified, "It took me one day to realize I was head over heels for this band."
Using the crowd-funding site, Kickstarter, the band raised $5,250 ($750 over their goal) from over 100 individual donations to make their latest independent record. Swear and Shake used various social media outlets and endearing quirky video updates to get the word out about their Kickstarter campaign (and released a super adorable impromptu celebratory dance video when they reached their goal). Recording was finished in the early fall and the album, including recent fan favorites like "These White Walls," "Marbles," and "Wrecking Ball," will be available in early 2012.