eau claire is an absolute hotbed for live music; if you need any convincing, just consult an events calendar. aside from touring bands and established local acts that frequent bars and basements, the scene regularly plays host to exciting one-off collaborations that rarely venture into a recording studio. one such exception is ’58 belvedere, an experimental jazz trio featuring three familiar faces: pat kuehn, who lends his upright bass skills to rivers, dave power, the mustachioed drummer for adelyn rose who moonlights under the electronic moniker of white dune, and dean granros, an enigmatic mainstay of eau claire’s live jazz circuit. the outfit is gearing up to release their debut, rustic libertines, in early january, and we’re excited to share its lead single. “i don’t know” is a seven-minute propulsion of the endless ideas that spew forth from granros’ guitar fretboard, which are accompanied by an insistent bass ostinato and crisp drumming. the trio’s interplay on the song’s back half is particularly engaging and serves as a warm introduction for what the rest of rustic libertines will inevitably bring. dig in below.
multi-tasking is fairly common within the eau claire music scene. veterans often lend their talents to a myriad of projects spanning a multitude of genres, from indie rock to hardcore punk to jazz and back again. one who embodies the exact description listed is dave power, who has most notably drummed for local indie stalwarts meridene and adelyn rose, but he’s also spent time loudly punishing his kit in puncher and deftly renegotiating tempos and time signatures in various jazz combos.
over the past year, power has been quietly adding to his repertoire by posting standalone tracks to bandcamp under the moniker of white dune. the singles would appear and disappear with virtually no proclivity, but they offered a glimpse into power’s burgeoning interest in electronic music and his capacity to handle virtually every aspect of the music’s production. after a dry spell and a few delays, power released expanse, his first full-length as white dune, this past tuesday.
what’s striking, especially in comparison to power’s most recognizable work, is how subdued and pensive the music throughout expanse feels. much of the album’s premise is predicated on the marriage of arpeggiated synths and drums – both live and electronic – and while the latter often provides momentum, the songs still retain a somber, introspective quality. power’s adelyn rose companions have guest spots throughout expanse, including a truly haunting vocal feature by jaime hanson on “corbin dallas,” and fellow eau claire producer sloslylove puts his own spin on “good night, mr. bateman” to close out the album.
although just a side-project currently confined to power’s home studio, white dune has proven to be another successful campaign among his many musical endeavors. stream and download expanse at a pay-what-you-want rate below via bandcamp.
2013 has provided a wealth of new music and incredibly important albums for a multitude of genres, but as i reflect on the year’s best offerings i can’t help but to peak ahead and see what 2014 potentially has in store. here’s my short list of bands i’m excited to hear a new album from.
adelyn rose – i guess it’s been less than two years since mezzanine, but it feels like i’ve been waiting on a new adelyn rose record forever. the eau claire outfit has been holed up at justin vernon’s april base for the latter half of this year, perfecting a new batch of tracks. i’ve heard a couple at various live shows, but i’m excited to finally hear another finished project from addie and company.
cloud nothings – remember when cloud nothings was on both editions of my “most anticipated” lists this year? oops. the good news is that the now-power trio posted a short video of them working on new songs in the studio, hinting that dylan baldi will probably dominate my headphones again in 2014. bring it, dude.
foxes in fiction – warren hildebrand enlisted owen pallett to write the string parts for his new album, so i have to hope that the end result will be good. the new york by way of toronto ambient act has had my attention for sometime, and i’m excited to hear a long-overdue full length album from him. the thing could drop tomorrow or in six months; i like a project that keeps me on my toes.
gem club – the boston chamber pop trio’s sophomore album in roses is due out january 28th on hardly art records. if you’ve heard the gorgeous lead single “polly,” you’ll know why i’m looking forward to this record. if you haven’t, head over to their soundcloud and fix that problem.
memoryhouse – memoryhouse played some new songs on npr’s world cafe last month and prefaced them with the announcement that their sophomore album will be out sometime in the spring. i’m always game to see what those two have to offer.
pillar point – i can’t tell you what got me hooked on pillar point, but i can tell you that scott reitherman’s moody synth-pop gave me an entirely new appreciation for the genre. after a strong showing on his debut 7″ single “diamond mine” b/w “dreamin’,” reitherman stepped out of anonymity and announced the release of his self-titled debut full length album, out february 25th via polyvinyl. if that wasn’t enough, he offered up another single, “eyeballs,” which might just be his best work yet.
tenement – get to know tenement. i’ve been following them since they used to play dingy basements and coffee houses around central and eastern wisconsin when i was in high school, but now they’ve signed to don giovanni records and are prepping their first release for that label sometime next year.
tennis – the small sound ep may have served as a filler in between tennis’ second and third album, but it also hopefully forecasted the continuation of sharp songwriting and irresistible pop hooks i’ve come to expect from the band.
vancouver sleep clinic – my favorite new artist of 2013 hasn’t even released a full body of work yet. in fact, seventeen year-old tim bettinson has only announced an ep for vancouver sleep clinic, due out early next year, but that’s enough for me. both “collapse” and “vapour” highlighted his skill as a songwriter and his ability to evoke entire landscapes through three or four minutes of song.
wye oak – a recent feature over at spin revealed that wye oak is working on their fourth album, and that it will be totally different than their previous output. guitars have been swapped for bass guitars, and the keyboard pads will be replaced with more melodic lines. no word on a title or release date, but look for it sometime next year via merge records.