Schvendes
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Schvendes

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You can take the kid of the arthouse, but you can’t take the arthouse out of the kid. Or something like that.
Schvendes’ existence has been all about evolution – from wanton performance art band who released a live album entitled The Scoundrel is Made an Outcast in 2002, Schvendes subsequently dropped the “Ensemble” from their moniker and cut a handful of self-restrained EPs in the years following as documentation of a band that were moving away from their Fringe Festival persona. Now, in the Year of the Frog, the Western Australian troupe has unveiled their first full-length disc, the brooding and lyrical Sweet Talk Your Enemies. Dense and shadowy, Rachael Dease and her alto tones commandeer this motley crew through 12 dark tracks that tip-toe a fine line between Schvendes’ avant-garde past and the pop future they’re evidently striving for.
It’s all a bit morbid and noir, and Dease’s poetic vocals play off the dirty guitars and melancholic cello in the same way Nick Cave did when he conjured up his evil alter-ego on Murder Ballads. She revels in the bloody imagery on ‘Small Mercies Sweet Graves’ and ‘Oh, Marlon’, almost as if Sweet Talk Your Enemies is Dease’s way of purging her personal demons. “All your skin’s turning grey/ The dirt’s a little warmer now,” she viciously drawls on the former track. It sits somewhere between Augie March’s baroque leanings and Cave and Ellis’ soundtrack work on The Proposition or The Assassination of Jesse James.
Schvendes creates a wonderfully claustrophobic mood which gradually envelopes you as you work your way through the album. But there is - below the songs about rotting flesh - majesty to the sumptuous arrangements that hark back to Schvendes’ days on the festival circuit. Even if they have sweet dreams of commercial acceptance, they’ll always play with the ghosts of their art past on their shoulders. And that’s a good thing.
- Mess + Noise


In Schvendes the strings – the cathedral shaped and sky bending strings – are vital. They add meat to stark song skeletons, they beef them up, make them effing huge and fat in the gut. Singer Rachael Dease threw us all onto our backs in a total ‘I’ve-just-paid-for-dinner-so-let-me-have-my-way’ way, barely moving except to grimace on the tense notes, yet completely commanding our attention. We were like, “Ooh! Okay,” and went along with it. It was kind of scary, but also kind of sexy... - Mess + Noise


"...There is not much that hasn’t been written about local heroes Schvendes over the past 12 months. It appears that they continually find themselves on the plumb gigs going around, and invariably rise to the occasion. This night performance was no different. As always Rachael Dease commanded attention as, at times, she can be both Dorothy and the wicked witch.

Schvendes attacked their tunes with plenty of vigour in spite of a stifling evening where lesser bands have been known to wilt. The studious playing of Tristan Parr and the often guttural charm of Dease make them the most obvious focal point of the five-piece, but it is the innocuous guitarist Ant Gray whose impeccable work should never be understated. Having already given the faithful a fabulous festive gift in the form of their faultless Small Mercies, Sweet Graves single, the band added another finely executed performance to their resume." - XPRESS 12/06


"Taking a bit of blues, jazz and rock, Schvendes comes across like a female fronted Bad Seeds. Were talking Mr. Cave in his crooning moments here, with the haunting vocals accompanied by the mournful Rhodes piano lines, on the title track Glorious Heart. Shes Waiting has sinister overtones courtesy of mere guitar strums and PJ Harvey-esque vocals as it undulates from caressing you gently to kicking your sorry arse out on to the street screaming at you to never come back". - BEAT


"...if ever old Lucifer did decide to kick up his hooves and cruise a few bands, he could do a lot worse than Schvendes, and their string-quartet-meets-Castle Dracula-post-rock.... [schvendes] have perfected their mix of dramatic guitar finesse and diaphragmatic vocals to a point where their mark is indelibly ready to be made... " - ZebraHype


Discography

2008 "Sweet Talk Your Enemies" Debut Studio LP

2007 "Repent and Repeat" single
airplay- national
streaming www.schvendes.com, www.wam.asn.au, www.myspace.com/schvendesschvendes

2006 "Small Mercies, Sweet Graves" 3 track single
airplay- national

2005 "Twice the Man" EP
rotation Triple J national radio Aust.
airplay- local stations
streaming www.schvendes.com, www.wam.asn.au, www.myspace.com/schvendesschvendes

2005 "Turn Out Your Lights" EP
rotation on community radio
streaming www.schvendes.com, www.myspace.com/schvendesschvendes

2003 "The Scoundrel Was Made and Outcast" Live LP
Sold Out

Photos

Bio

SCHVENDES are Rachael Dease (bass/vox), Tristen Parr (cello), Matthew MAguire (drums), Tara John (keys/ vox/ percussion) and Ant Gray (guitar/ vox).

It started, suitably, as art. Before Schvendes was the Schvendes we’ve come to know and love they were the Schvendes Ensemble, a gothy musical wing of the 2002 Artrage Festival. They were pretty much the same thing they are now except in more of an incubator phase, performing under the auspices of performance art within art festivals. In this mode they recorded their first release, the hand-packaged live album “The Scoundrel is Made an Outcast”. Eventually demand for the band drew them into a more conventional live context and they hit Perth’s live road test circuit – the Hyde Park Hotel, the Rosemount Hotel, Mojo’s Bar, the Amplifier Bar – where, again, they flourished.

Flourish is perhaps an understatement. Like most great Australian bands – we’re talking You Am I, the Scientists, the Drones, not to mention the many others – live performance is where Schvendes eat their breakfast. Given a stage to stand on and a throng to impress, Schvendes feel at home. At their early gigs people gaped in disbelief at the thick layers of musical talent present in any given bar of a Schvendes song. Here was a town known mainly for its contributions to pop, punk and metal, and Schvendes were busting out slow-cooking soundtracks to Lizzie Borden murder scenes that erupted into strings, Rhodes and guitar-laced climaxes. It was catharsis in the Greek tragedy sense of the word: terrible, beautiful, all-encompassing drama. Early on Schvendes mastered this art, and it is on this that they have built their now-considerable empire.

Schvendes have won a bunch of WA Music Industry Awards, been flogged on Perth radio RTR fm, had support from Triple J in various forms, and have performed in Toronto and New York, at the Perth Big Day out and the Perth International Arts Festivals. They’ve also supported a bunch of their heroes and friends in the last couple of years including Augie March, Ed Kuepper, The Dirty Three, The Drones, Baseball, The Panics, The Kill Devil Hills, The Go Betweens, 67 Special, Kim Salmon, Brian Hooper, Tucker Bs, Tim Rogers and Tex Perkins with WASO, Low, Art of Fighting, The Devoted Few, Decoder Ring, New Buffalo, Holly Throsby and Youth Group.

Following “The Scoundrel is Made an Outcast” and a period of steady gigging, Schvendes released their first studio CD, the “Turn Out Your Lights” EP in 2005. This was followed later that year by the “Twice the Man” EP, then a year later a single taster from their album sessions emerged, “Small Mercies, Sweet Graves”. In July 2008 their long awaited debut studio album "Sweet Talk Your Enemies" was released to critical acclaim, and marked the end of one journey and the beginning of another. Already preparing for their second LP, the musical growth for this band of troubadours seems limitless.

Their new single "Lay The Noose" will be released in March 2010.

Matt Giles, music writer- the West Australian.