Schwab has been on a roll this year. Emerging early last semester, the three-piece immediately settled into a unique sound and have remained an exciting voice of the mellow Wesleyan indie scene ever since. It’s tough to name any sort of genre for the music Schwab makes, and it’s a massive testament to their music that no list of sound-a-like bands spring to mind. Schwab are doing their own thing, and they do it well.
The band is Anna Schwab ('16) singing and playing guitar, Jack Ladd ('15) on bass, and Alex Lee ('17) holding it down on the drums (Piers Gelly '13 (crazy eyes above) has recently swapped in for Lee, who's been busy wearing oxford cloth button-downs around Paris). The three songs on their debut The Charade EP showcase Schwab’s serious songwriting chops and the trio’s ability to flesh simple tunes into beautifully arranged pieces of pop craft. Album opener “Circles” has Schwab crooning “running circles in my head, keep me up when I’m in bed” over a bass line that wanders with her thoughts. The cyclical vocals catch Schwab right at the top of her register and spiral back down again, bringing to mind the endless melancholic ache of thinking yourself in loops over love lost, friends found, or perhaps when Summies closes.
“Waste Time” finds the band perfecting its ability to intertwine separate instrumental lines into effortless arrangements. The bass, drum hits, guitar, and vocals all stack and weave so perfectly that it’s hard to imagine this as the work of three different humans, but Schwab blends the track into another mid-tempo indie gem. Its worth noting the way that the guitar and bass intertwine, swapping riffs thanks to Schwab’s minimalist guitar stylings, and Ladd’s melody driven approach to bass. Every note this band hits is spot on in maintaining a 90’s-inspired stare-at-the-floor singer-songwriter vibe. Schwab is so comfortable with this specific brand of down-tempo rock that the EP doesn't reach for any climaxes outside of its well-established comfort zone. The brooding atmosphere that comes of this is wonderfully distinctive, and it begs the question of where Schwab may fly to as they take more risks with subsequent material. They've got the potential to soar.
At the tail end of this triptych EP is “Charade,” something of a single for the band. Again dealing in languid vocals and low-key instrumentation, the track ambles along with the word “Charade” repeated as the song’s hook. There’s certainly some irony as Anna Schwab sings “fade from the crowd tonight” for bigger and bigger audiences every weekend. Hungry listeners have fallen in love with Schwab’s unique sound, and The Charade EP neatly captures their essence in a tasty 15-minute morsel.
P.S. Shoutout to producer SeanWinnik for an album so well produced + a real pleasure to listen to.