– featured image courtesy of landon speers –
new jersey’s joseph black has spent the last decade or so at the helm of projects like honeydrum and donovan blanc, the latter perhaps a bit more buttoned-up than the former but both serving the songwriter’s development well in their respective ways. black recently turned his attention to writing and recording a solo album under his own name, northern exposure, which is set to drop tomorrow.
the ten tracks that line the album’s outer shell drip with the hallmarks of 1980s music; elements of coming-of-age film soundtracks blend with college rock homages and mingle with stadium-caliber spectacle, although northern exposure feels not like pastiche but intense veneration, a full immersion into a decade that evokes a particularly warm variant of nostalgia.
lead singles “be still the light” and “what if it’s all wrong?” are solid points of entry into black’s world, one where the gated reverb crisply evaporates off of each snare pop and brassy synth leads glide in tandem with distant guitar riffs and metallic bass lines. drill down deeper, though, and you’ll discover the slow tremolo haze of “october blue” and the cinematic grandeur of “hopeless night,” just two of the eight other songs that tie northern exposure into the kaleidoscopic body of work that it is.
black’s first solo venture is reflective and triumphant, a true joy to peel apart and digest slowly, one layer at a time. northern exposure is out tomorrow via the wonderful folks at chill mega chill records. it’s premiering in full right here on the dimestore, below. enjoy.
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.
still riding the buzz off of his past two singles, “eating alone” and “rare candy,” eau claire art rapper sayth has wasted little time in delivering his next cohesive project. bad habitat is a five-track collection featuring the aforementioned singles along with three new songs, and finds sayth working again with frequent collaborator wealthy relative. take note, however, that fellow eau claire artist north house is also given production credits (those appear to be his signature beats on opener “with the crocodiles”), suggesting that sayth is becoming even more invested in his hometown music scene. you can stream bad habitat below and grab a download at a pay-what-you-want rate; a limited run of cds are also available through sayth’s bandcamp. check it out.