Mark Schwaber | The Killing Card

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United States - Mass. - Western

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Rock: Sadcore Pop: Noise Pop Moods: Mood: Brooding
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The Killing Card

by Mark Schwaber

Experimental songwriter pop. " A beautiful patchwork of that thing we often speak of, but that we rarely really see: Art." THE UNION NEWS
Genre: Rock: Sadcore
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Home.
0:55 $0.99
2. The Pressure It Feeds
6:24 $0.99
3. Everyone Is Gone
2:42 $0.99
4. Torture Ground
3:37 $0.99
5. The Combing of the Bottom of the Sea
2:51 $0.99
6. The Drugs Have Shaped the Angles
2:30 $0.99
7. Man Down
2:30 $0.99
8. The Whisper No One Else Can Hear
2:07 $0.99
9. Unbecoming (1992-94)
2:40 $0.99
10. Island of the Burning Trees
4:38 $0.99
11. Forever Every Evening
2:54 $0.99
12. The Elephant's Glide
2:58 $0.99
13. Firefly Parade
3:08 $0.99
14. Stamp and Release
3:37 $0.99
15. Medicine You Sent
1:52 $0.99
16. You Are Just Like Me. You Will Never Be Free.
1:43 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Mark Schwaber - the killing card

The players:
Mark Schwaber - vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, cassette tapes, glockenspiel, percussion and Hammond on all except where noted. Drums on #12
JJ O’Connell - drums/percussion on #4,5,6,8,10,11, 14
Ruth Keating - drums/percussion on #2,3
Joel Stroetzel - guitars on #2
Anne Pinkerton – vocals on #6, 10, 14
Paul Kochanski – bass on #10
Matt Cullen – guitars on #10
Jose Ayerve – chord-o-dot organ on #3
Mark Alan Miller – tape loop editing on #9
Sheri Hupfer – phone call on #15

Reviews of Mark Schwaber's first CD, "two years and thirty minutes"

"Absolutely amazing" Lou Barlow (Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh, Folk Implosion)

"...The record showcases Schwaber's wide range of talents, from his understatedly brilliant guitar playing (check out the quirky turnaround after the first chorus of "Watergun") to his knack for creating beautiful arrangements (dive into the lovely layers of "Hell is Here" and "Dignity in Death") to his seemingly endless supply of hooks (just try to get the vocal lines on "Let Down" or the guitar line on "Ghosting" out of your head).

The mood on Two Years... shifts from straight-up rock to sparse, nylon-string dirges, but the unmistakable constant is Schwaber's superb songwriting. There are 11 songs in this collection, and only two of them break the three-minute mark. Chalk that brevity up to the fact that Schwaber has mastered one of the most important principles of songwriting: Don't overdo it. He never forces lyrics. If he's said everything he needs to say in a single verse, he brings the song in for a gorgeous, graceful landing, as he does on "Crash Your Ride." If he's written a wonderfully funny and catchy verse, he simply repeats it, as he does on "On Your Way." It's a compelling approach -- compelling the listener to revisit the songs again and again and again."
Greg Saulmon -



to write a review

Pat Aldrich

I'm glad I found this.
I was turned on to Mark Schwaber by a friend of mine and it's fantastic stuff. I really dig the vocals and the smoothe vibe. Really a great sound and quality music. As a fellow songwriter, I appreciate the well crafted progressions and mood changes. Great job!

Delusions of Adequacy

beautifully crafted
Crafting an album is an art that some musicians forget once they’ve finished their individual song recording. A well thought-out sequence can create an experience that holds on to the listener from beginning to end, pulling them into the world of the artist, helping them to not only listen but to experience the music and the emotions therein. From the children fleeing a raging inferno “At Sunbeam Creek” on the cover art by Henry Darger to the song progression, Mark Schwaber has built an “exact replica of an anxiety attack” with his latest album The Killing Card.
“Home” opens the album with a minimalist fuzzy electronic beat mixed with piano, setting the slightly uneasy mood which blends into “The Pressure it Feeds,” a more agitated yet amazing pop song. Clocking in just under six and a half minutes - the longest track - it features clever lyrics sang by effortless Elliot Smith-like vocals. The last half feeds the growing pressure with guitar-lead instrumentals of a layered Maserati taste. Along with a few sounds that seem to emulate what I kept thinking was my cell phone vibrating on my coffee table.
“Everyone Is Gone” is a mournful ballad filling with depression as the verse “Everybody’s gone / Gone to a better place” cycles through the song backed by minimal piano, percussion, and acoustic guitar. Following with track four, “Torture Ground” picks up the pace a bit with driving acoustic guitar, filled with distress and panic until it bursts at the end with a scream that releases the emotional buildup, to fall into “The Coming of the Bottom of the Sea,” a vocally absent track with heavy electric guitars unlike anything else on the album.
From the energetic harshness of “Combing,” Schwaber moves into “The Drugs Have Shaped the Angles,” a beautifully crafted song that feels like it borrowed some instrumental emotion from A Perfect Circle. This moody style blended with Schwaber’s Smith-inspired vocals works very well for the artist, making this one of the standout tracks on the album. Schwaber has a knack for creating both brilliantly sparse and intelligent tracks while also shaking it up by introducing different instrumentation, keys, and varying levels of emotional intensity blended with his favorite artistic influences. Songs like “Man Down” and his album closer “You are Just Like Me, You Will Never be Free” speak to the influential Smith, while more upbeat songs like “Island of the Burning Trees” will circle through your head long after you’ve put down your headphones. If you are looking for intelligently crafted, emotional pop with solid rhythms and laid-back harmonies then this is an album you could easily get hooked on.

This man is bound to be a major player in the years to come.
This is an intriguing album that immediately caught our attention. Mark Schwaber creates uniquely entertaining music from a different perspective. His tunes combine highly melodic thoughtful vocal melodies with abstract musical passages...and the end result is extraordinarily effective. Instead of predictable tunes and cute arrangements, Schwaber writes and records mature, intellectual tunes that are sometimes reminiscent of Sufjan Stevens. There is a wealth of material to take in here. The Killing Card presents sixteen thought provoking compositions that flow by seamlessly...combining classic elements with unpredictable spontaneity. This man is bound to be a major player in the years to come. Cool reflective tracks include "The Pressure It Feeds," "Torture Ground," "Island of the Burning Trees," and "You Are Just Like Me. You Will Never Be Free." Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

The Phoenix - HCC newspaper

simple musical genius
Mark Schwaber has once again delivered a beautifully written, masterfully performed piece of art. One almost asks whether it's a meticulous process in writing these songs, or simple musical genius. Regardless, unlike most records put out by major-labels this one can be appreciated by all listeners.

...brilliance as a song and lyric writer
Mark Schwaber set out to locate the album cover that would befit his second solo release, The Killing Card. What he found was "At Sunbeam Creek" by Henry Darger, a brooding image of children, clad in yellow and red, fleeing a chaotic scene with a fire on the horizon.

Schwaber wrote on his blog:

I realized during the mastering process and initial layout sessions that this entire record is an exact replica of an anxiety attack. It starts frantically and grows slowly towards a horrific crash and then curtails you back into what you think is safety.

From the searing pop brilliance of "Pressure It Feeds," to the depression and loss on "Everyone is Gone," (everyone is gone, gone to a better place, you're the only one who keeps the storm at bay") to panic, nervous energy on "Tortured Ground" descending into "The Combing Of The Bottom Of The Sea" -- Schwaber builds what might seem to be the architecture of anxiety attack. I'm not a psychologist, but it sure feels like it. The beginning tracks feel necessary to the gradual increase of intense emotion that is released on "Combing."

What I felt the more and more I listened to this album was that it is Schwaber's answer to Radiohead's Kid A - a sonic assault bursting at the seams with brilliant melody. Following Combing, the middle tracks are testaments to Schwaber's brilliance as a song and lyric writer, someone who knows how to build drama into a song. They are interrupted by a muffled interlude recorded in the early 90s.

The ending tracks sound like tributes to one of Schwaber's heroes, Elliott Smith, especially "You Are Just Like Me You Will Never Be Free," looping around the nine words in the the title over and over until the song ends, thus ceasing a deliciously addictive album.

Schwaber once again assembles the best musicians around. The list includes Pinkerton (The Nuclear Waste Management Club), Ruth Keating (The Malarkies), Joel Stroetzel (Killswitch Engage), Paul Kochanski, Matt Cullen (Ware River Club) and Jose Ayerve (Spouse).

Standout tracks are "The Drugs Have Shaped the Angles," "Man Down," and "Island of the Burning Trees," on which Schwaber shares vocals with Pinkerton.

The Local Buzz

When an album gives me chills, it is surely a good sign.
...Schwaber's simplicity is deceptive, belying an intricacy of production and lyrical content, as well as a melodic sensibility which takes the best elements of pop music and transforms them into vessels for profound meditations on postmodern life, love and loss. When an album gives me chills, it is surely a good sign, and this one did at several points (see the consecutive lineup of "The Drugs Have Shaped The Angles", "Man Down" and "The Whisper No One Else Can Hear", especially).

Gary Carra - Nightcrawler

A ferocious work
Schwaber’s beautiful fingerpicking, carpal tunnel-punishing flamenco work and silky-smooth pull-offs neatly adorn this ambitious 16-tune effort…a ferocious work.


Expansive and Touching
I really like this cd. Thanks Mark. These songs made my eyes open and ears perk up. They made me stand up and take notice. They feel like they are expansive and sweeping, and yet short and to the point. Without studying the lyrics in the least bit I was drawn in to the subjects of your material. Thanks again. I look forward to listening to this for years to come, and any new material you deliver.

George Lenker - Music Writer - The Republican

Beautiful patchwork
On 'The Killing Card' Mark Schwaber alternates his usual gossamer melodies with moments of laser-like intensity, resulting in an satisfying and beautiful patchwork of that thing we often speak of, but that we rarely really see: Art.

It doesn’t take long to notice that Mark Schwaber is a serious artist.
It doesn’t take long to notice that Mark Schwaber is a serious artist. One of this CD’s early tracks is called “The Pressure It Feeds,” and the listener seems to be the "it."...unrelenting in its onslaught. This music is sad and guarded, like a stranger that has secrets he’ll never tell. But if you’re game to try and figure out Schwaber’s mysterious personality, here's your chance.
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