New York folk-pop foursome brings Americana to Otto’s


Kari Spieler, Shaun Savage, Adam McHeffey and Tom Elefante of Swear and Shake soak up the sun in this undated courtesy photo.

By Jessica Cabe

Americana has come a long way in the pop world the last few years, and now it’s coming to DeKalb.

The New York-based foursome Swear and Shake is performing 8 p.m. tonight at Otto’s Nightclub, 118 E. Lincoln Highway. Tickets are $8, and attendees must be 21 or older.

Swear and Shake is made up of Kari Spieler (vocals, guitar), Adam McHeffey (vocals, guitar), Shaun Savage (bass) and Tom Elefante (drums).

The band’s sound is unique yet familiar, which makes sense given the members’ influences.

“We’re influenced by a lot of different styles of music,” Spieler said. “Everyone from Led Zepplin to Kitty Wells. We all love Motown and soul music.”

She said she and McHeffey listen to a lot of folk, and Savage and Elefante listen to more rock and jazz.

These styles blend together to create a soothing yet energetic sound. Spieler’s vocals have a smoky quality reminiscent of Fiona Apple, but with the clean precision of St. Vincent’s Annie Clark. McHeffey’s throaty vocals are just as arresting, and the music truly shines when the two sing together.

Swear and Shake released its first EP, aptly titled Extended Play, November 2010. They started a Kickstarter campaign to fund their first full-length album, Maple Ridge, and raised over $5,000 from over 100 individual donations. The album was released in April.

“We mostly wanted to take the opportunity to get our fans involved,” Spieler said. “What better way than helping us create our next record?”

Maple Ridge features more sophisticated instrumentation, cleaner vocals and a more polished sound.

“The band developed quite a bit by the time we recorded Maple Ridge, which is clear by its content,” Spieler said. “As a group, we were much more conscious of how we wanted to sound. We set aside more time and energy for Maple Ridge. With every project we do, we strive to get better and better.”

Spieler said the band is already working on material for its next album, and the members are looking forward to getting back in the studio after touring. However, the band also loves being on stage.

“I like to think of our shows as a party in our living room with our friends and family,” Spieler said. “Recording and performing are very different animals. We love doing both.”