7″ Review: Schande – “Still Returning”

by Jason LeRoy on July 27, 2011

Jen Schande is one of the Bay Area’s most tried-and-true indie workhorses. She’s been at it in one band or another for damn near two decades: she played pre-fame shows with bands ranging from No Doubt to The Gossip, released a long-sold-out split 7″ with The Cribs that commands quite a high asking price on eBay, and famously saw PJ Harvey at the Whiskey in 1992. In addition to her prolific DJ work, Jen has her namesake band, Schande, which she began focusing on exclusively after parting ways with Boyskout several years back.

Schande are playing at the Hemlock this Saturday, July 30, along with Bam!Bam! and Silent Pictures. And they have a new 7″ out on Future Farmer Recordings, titled Still Returning. Let’s have a listen, shall we?

A four-piece consisting of Jen on vocals and guitar, Will Cline on guitar, Allan Wong on bass, and Dennis Galway on drums, Schande are known around town for having an early ’90s indie throwback sound. And as we all know, that was a damn fine time for music. Better that Schande be associated with early ’90s indie than, say, late ’90s rap-rock. Although Jen has been known to cite Fred Durst as an influence. (No she has not.) Spin.com referred to Jen as an “indie rock princess” who is “cut from the same cloth as Liz Phair and Tanya Donelly.”

And while Schande first rose to local prominence on such fun, jangly cuts as the hook-driven “Out on You,” they’ve evolved over the years into a band that takes their instrumentation very, very seriously. The riffs have gotten longer and heavier, with Jen’s distinctive vocals receding from front-and-center to allow all the prodigious guitar-jamming to step up. The instrumentals sometimes get so epic that Schande seems as if they might go vocals-free altogether.

But as someone who always misses Jen’s vocals when they disappear in their live shows (whether intentionally or otherwise; her gentle, woozy murmurs are easily overwhelmed by the musical force around her), I am very pleased that the two main cuts on Still Returning find Jen and the boys in excellent balance between vocals and instrumentation. And still, they reflect the movement from light to dark that has been evident in Schande’s music in the years of discovery and exploration that followed the “Out on You” era.

The title track, “Still Returning,” is two unrelenting minutes of driving guitars and insistent drums, with Jen’s sardonic vocals suggesting the most kick-ass song Liz Phair never recorded. The B-side, “What Are You Did?”, has an opening guitar hook that will be instantly recognizable to those who’ve seen Schande live, as it has been a previously unrecorded staple of their shows for some time. The track slowly unfolds and urgently builds, simultaneously tapping into ’90s grunge angst and a more moody and dramatic emo sensibility.

The demo mix of “Former Idle” comes closest to approximating the experience of witnessing Schande in concert. It is dreamy, gorgeous, and epic, with Jen’s vocals not making an appearance until nearly three minutes into the six-minute track. And once again we have that exquisite build, that halting climb up the rollercoaster, leading to a crescendo of guitar-jam bliss before a gentle fade-out that seems to say, “Jamming? Who, us?”

You can keep up with Schande on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, or on Jen Schande’s Tumblr. Still Returning is available on vinyl and as a download at iTunes, Amazon.com, and all the other usual suspects. (It is also streaming at Spotify.) Check out Schande playing this Saturday at the Hemlock. Bam!Bam! are also playing, by the way. And they’re quite rad themselves:

Read Also:

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: