If they played rock music in Buddhist temples atop mountains, they would play Schwervon.
Part Weezer, part Smashing Pumpkins, part Sonic Youth, Schwervon is something wholly captivating and original.
The two-piece band — Matt Roth on guitar and Nan Turner on drums, with both sharing vocal duties — recently released an album called “Courage.” But don’t confuse them with that other great male-guitarist/female-drummer band, the White Stripes. The goal here is something other than blues-driven guitar.
Schwervon’s charm lies in its willingness to experiment with different musical ideas and mold them into a cohesive unit.
Roth and Turner formed the band in New York in 1999 but relocated earlier this year to Roth’s native Shawnee. They arrived in town April 4 and played Ink’s Middle of the Map Fest at the RecordBar on April 5. They’ve quickly become favorites in the Kansas City music scene with their charismatic live performances.
“Courage” isn’t a long album. Its eight songs take up only about 23 minutes. But it has an ethereal, entrancing quality that demands it be put on repeat.
The album’s third track, “Daydream Ration,” shows what Schwervon is all about: quirky, clever lyrics — “So you walked through my daydream with those cigarette eyes/You took a pound for your nipples and a pound for your thighs” — and airy, ambient backing vocals.
“Cyclone,” the album’s longest track at about 5 1/2 minutes, starts with sustained harmonies that sound like they belong in a cathedral. The song keeps a steady progression. About a minute before the song ends, the jangly guitar and steady drumbeat turn into overdriven guitar and cymbal crashes.
Turner handles lead vocals on several of the tracks, including the fantastic “Dog Got Your Cat Tongue.” Turner repeats the title line over and over while the guitar builds tension, climaxing with a fierce chord progression (there are no guitar solos here). Unfortunately, the rocking ends a little too soon, with the track clocking in at less than two minutes. If there’s a complaint to be made about “Courage,” it’s that there isn’t enough of it.