Review: Winnebago Vacation/Schmave Split

Eli Frank and Avery John have their hands in a lot of pots when it comes to New Paltz DIY.

Whether it comes to bringing down the house at Snug Harbor Bar and Grill or serenading you in someone’s basement with their multitude of projects, they have established themselves as mainstays in the Hudson Valley music scene.

On Dec. 15, their respective projects, Winnebago Vacation and Schmave are set to release a split EP, decked out with ethereal art work designed by Marissa Carroll of the band Tiny Blue Ghost. 

I got a sneak peek of the two bands’ newest release to give you a taste of the action before it officially comes out next week. 

The EP kicks off with the song “Stand Back” by Winnebago Vacation, a dreamy, lo-fi ballad that reminds me of lying in my bed and staring at the ceiling as if my life were a movie after something great just happened.

Frank’s vocals in this song remind me a lot of a band I liked in the early portion of the decade out of Purchase, New York called Spook Houses. This song brought me right back to that era with a warm, fuzzy feeling. 

“Stand Back” segues into Winnebago Vacation’s second song on the split called “C U.” 

“C U” has a tastefully ‘80s feel, with electro-pop influence and delightful synth, which is right up my alley. What I particularly enjoyed about this song is that it reminded me of a mix of Aaron Maine’s project Porches, though more upbeat, with hints of classic video game tunes. 

What I most appreciate about Winnebago Vacation is Frank’s ability to create something that’s starkly distant from his other project, Top Nachos. That’s not a dig at the latter, either. I’m a punk kid at heart, and Top Nachos is reminiscent of all the music I grew up on. However, he has proven to be able to be a versatile musician and one that wears many hats.

While Schmave and Winnebago Vacation aren’t carbon copies of each other, the next song on the EP is “Amber Tiles,” by the former and it works as a perfect transition to the second portion of the record. 

Schmave doesn’t practice the electronic pop-esque sound that Winnebago Vacation does, but John graces your ears with his own unique sound. What is perhaps my favorite aspect of his music is his voice. It complements his instrumentation perfectly, and reminds me of a fresh cut lawn on a bright, spring afternoon. 

The split concludes with “In the Gut,” a song in which I was really able to resonate with the lyrics.

“Well if you couldn’t have got along, I’d suggest we meet later on / When you’ve cut off your sleeves, but maybe you kept a hint of me,” the song goes. And I think this is something everyone can relate to. 

We all have those people that we start to feel at odds with, but ultimately come to their senses and re-enter your life. 

Altogether, this was a strong and cohesive split that gives you a glimpse of what these bands and the rest of the New Paltz DIY scene is all about. 

The cassette release show will go down at Nachohouse on Dec. 15. Message a punk for the address.