In an odd coincidence, this week sees the return of two groups that kicked up a metric ton of whoop-ass at last fall’s MidPoint Music Festival in Cincinnati — Denney and the Jets (see below) and Swear and Shake. Brooklyn, N.Y.’s Swear and Shake coalesced just a couple of years ago, but from the sound of its debut full-length Maple Ridge, you’d swear (and shake) that this electric Folk marvel has been percolating over the course of a decade or more with a half dozen previous releases under their belts.
Guitarist/vocalist Kari Spieler and guitarist/banjoist/vocalist Adam McHeffey have a chemistry that is supernaturally sympatico. They recognized this after a single collaboration, which was enough to inspire them to start the band in 2010.
Swear and Shake operates somewhere near the intersection of Mumford & Sons, Bon Iver and Over the Rhine, peppering their hybrid of traditional and contemporary Folk with moody flecks of expansive Pop and lightning flashes of Rock, Indie and otherwise (particularly when McHeffey attacks his banjo with a Hendrix-like zeal).
With bassist Shaun Savage and drummer Tom Elefante providing an amazingly adaptable and sturdy foundation to whatever is going on around them, Spieler and McHeffey craft gorgeous harmonies, an exquisite sonic atmosphere and an incredible emotional maturity on songs that bristle with modern energy but are as timeless as songs written during Folk’s heyday in the ’60s.
SWEAR AND SHAKE performs Wednesday, Jan 9 with G. Love & Special Sauce at 20th Century Theatre in Over-the-Rhine. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.