By Matteo Scher
Although Manhattan and Brooklyn are the heart of New York’s famous music scene, it would be impossible to entirely credit these cities as the center for music without looking at the state as a whole. Ever since Robbie Robertson and The Band recorded “Big Pink” in Saugerties NY in 1968, Upstate New York has become a hub for new music. From Lana Del Ray to Phantogram, Upstate New York brings out one promising artist after another.
New Paltz artists Winnebago Vacation and Schmave are two upcoming artists continuing the trend of Upstate New York music. Winnebago Vacation is the queer/grunge/pop project of Eli Frank, who also plays in Teenage Halloween and Top Nachos while Schmave is an indie/lo-fi/jazz endeavor of Avery John. While both are solo artists, on December 15th the two artists debuted a collaborative four-song E.P.
While it is difficult to create a cohesive sound between two artists, the E.P. through its melancholic but upbeat nature and its use of major tonality achieves just that. The first song written by Frank features a shuffle beat and melodic lines similar to artist Matt Kearney. It sounds as if it could be part of the slower catalogue of 2000s band Fountains of Wayne with some added synths. The second song “C U” is more upbeat featuring electronic drums similar to A-ha’s “Take on Me.” Instead of the song having an 80s vibe however, the song is more similar to material by the 2000s super group The Postal Service.
The two songs written by John continue the upbeat nature set by the first two. Contrary to Frank who sings mostly in his lower register, John’s voice soars high resembling something between a happier version of Elliot Smith and a lower energy version of Two Door Cinema Club’s lead man, Alex Trimble. The first song “Amber Tiles” features a melody line that steps, however the shuffle beat underneath creates the movement for the melody. The last song, “In the Gut” features multiple guitar leads and a simple melody as John sings a beautiful melody line about someone who he has lost. The song and E.P. ends with an upbeat instrumental guitar section capturing the essence of the four songs and tying the whole E.P. together.
The four-song E.P. by Winnebago Vacation and Schmave is an expertly crafted cohesive collection of songs and we are excited to see what is next for both artists!
For those of you in NYC, Schmave is performing at the Bowery Electric Map room on January 6th at 7pm.