Eau Claire resident Fuller Moehagen makes part of his living off music, but you won’t see him on stage strumming a guitar.
…Fuller regularly does design work and merchandising for bands, both local and national. We wanted to get Fuller’s take on the best tunes of 2016 because to do this kind of work means listening to and thinking about music and bands a little differently in order to be able to turn around and distill and visually represent a band’s sound and aesthetic in an accurate, effective way. No easy task! Says Fuller on his approach to this particular challenge:
“Like anything else, some projects are definitely easier than others. I can listen to a band or artist and know exactly what to do within a few minutes. Conversely, I’ve been sent jobs and had little-to-no idea of what the fuck to do. So maybe that means I create 10 concepts instead of 5, just to see what sticks. There’s some amount of trial and error to it. Luckily, I’ve been doing this long enough to kinda know what works and what doesn’t. At the end of the day it’s still art and still subjective. I just do whatever I think is cool in the moment. Trust my gut and execute. The rest is kinda up in the air.”
Trusting his gut has led Fuller to get to work with some seriously big names in music; his handiwork has been featured at Eaux Claires and sold online and at shows by numerous artists and bands! Check out a sampling of some of the work he’s done below, and scroll on through for some of Fuller’s favorite tracks of 2016!
DRAGONETTE – ROYAL BLUES
Yeah, 2016 had its serious bummer moments – but we still got music, right? In fact, Royal Blues is filled with enough electro-pop goodness that you’ll be saying “Donald WHO?!” in no time. I’m kidding, we’re probably doomed! But maybe this song will help for a few minutes. Turn it up, fam. The chopped vocal sample lends itself perfectly to the dreamy, cascading synths…or whatever. It’s just catchy af.
WET – THE MIDDLE
Easily my second favorite song called “The Middle”. While they’re not the most SEO friendly band, Wet is dope. This is like a chopped and screwed version of CHVRCHES, if you can follow that. Anyway, this is just a random single they released after their full-length album, Don’t You, came out in early 2016. I can’t stop spinning it. If it’s any indication of things to come, 2017 should be a cool year for them.
ARMS ALOFT – I WANT TO BE LEAVES
Straight up, this was my most listened to song of 2016 and has become my favorite Arms Aloft jam. What A Time To Be Barely Alive is an amazing album overall, but this one jumped out at me from the very beginning. Maybe it’s because the singer/songwriter in the band is one of my best friends. Maybe it’s because I’ve been around these dudes in one way or another for nearly a decade. Or maybe it’s just a really fucking good song? Yeah, I think that’s the one.
SHURA – WHAT HAPPENED TO US?
Lyrically, Shura isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel, but the songs on Nothing’s Real are heartfelt and deeply catchy. Sleek, 80’s pop vibes with dark, melancholy undertones. Also, for being her debut full-length album, it’s pretty damn impressive. Definitely someone to keep an eye on.
KANYE WEST – FATHER STRETCH MY HANDS Pt. 1
Yeah, guys…I know. Yeezy has been pretty uncool lately, but this song got me so hyped in 2016 that I felt weird not adding it. The production on this track is phenomenal. Mike Dean is just starting to get the real props he deserves. Plus, I had the chance to check out the Saint Pablo tour a few months ago and seeing how kids reacted to this song was kinda surreal. That being said, Ye needs to fix his broken brain as soon as possible.
See more of Fuller’s work or contact him via his website: FULLER.MOE
Eau Claire based singer/songwriter/beatmaker/producer Eric Christenson has been putting out catchy, melancholic, low-fi electronic pop jams for a few years now–previously as Wisconsin Built and now under the moniker of Two Castles. 2016 was a busy year for Eric musically: he put out a Two Castles EP entitled “Night Talk” at the beginning of the year, produced the debut Sniffle Party EP called “Peach Dream” that dropped in the spring, and just released a new single titled “Survive” (embedded below! …give it a listen!) earlier in December. Fittingly for an artist who was so busy in 2016 Eric is seeing the year out on stage, playing as Two Castles and along with Sniffle Party as part of “The Golden Hour” festivities taking place at The Plus in conjunction with the amazing Light Up Eau Claire celebration that’s happening all across downtown this NYE.
With so much time spent producing his own music did Eric still have a chance to check out some of this year’s releases? You bet he did…and he was kind enough to give us a great list of his favorite tracks of 2016!
NxWorries – Link Up
Anderson Paak and Knxwledge are the dream team of my dreams. Their record “Yes Lawd!” was easily one of my favorites this year. It’s so funky and full of swagger and soul and I love it. But “Link Up” is the jam, and the music video is just Paak and Knxwledge drinking 40s in a gas station. One of the most vibey songs I’ve heard in a long, long time.
Kaytranada – “Glowed Up (feat. Anderson Paak)”
OK, I didn’t want to mention Anderson Paak too much on this list, but the dude is crazy prolific and he put out some amazing work this year, especially on “Glowed Up.” Kaytranada is one of my all-time favorite producers and his beat on “Glowed Up” is so spooky and bangin’ and perfect. This song’s an incredible moment for two artists in their peak. And Kaytranada’s album 99.9% was ultra-groovy and fantastic front to back.
A Tribe Called Quest – “Whateva Will Be”
Every time I listen to Tribe, it makes me feel like we’re all gonna be OK. “We Got It From Here, Thank You 4 Your Service” was such a blessing. The blown out sample, the lo-fi production, and Phife Dawg’s verses on “Whateva Will Be” give me chills every time. RIP Phife.
Rihanna “Needed Me”
Oooooo baby I love this song. Rihanna’s voice has never sounded so silky and so powerful and this song made me fall in love with her all over again. We don’t deserve Rihanna.
Promises Ltd. – “American Eyes”
Lowkey one of the year’s most perfect pop gems. I’ve been a huge fan of Chrome Sparks for years, and the production on this new Promises Ltd EP is masterful. Warm shimmering synths get paired with 80’s pop hooks and the whole thing coalesces into something really magical. Give it a spin or two or a hundred.
Whitney – “Golden Days”
I adored the Whitney record that came out this year. This track “Golden Days” is perfect for crunchin’ leaves under your boot, driving around the countryside, and drinking beers on the golden days that slip away from you. And the horns that come in near the end will make your lil’ heart soar, I swear.
HERO – “The Juice”
It’s an instant classic, baby! I stumbled on this track this summer, and I don’t think many people know about it. It’s sounds like all the best 80’s inspired synthwave stuff you’d find on the soundtrack to Drive or Stranger Things, but with the sleekest R&B twist. I can’t get enough. Everything’s on point and it makes you feel like you, too, might have the juice. Certified banger.
Kanye West – “Real Friends” (feat. Ty Dolla $ign)
First things first: I don’t really care what you think about Kanye West. “Real Friends” is one of his best songs ever. I loved seeing Yeezy go back to some lowkey sample-driven production too. It’s a track that’s full of biting words about flaking out and lying to each other, but he executes it in such an honest way. The Life Of Pablo was great, but “Real Friends” is understated in a way that makes me go back to it over and over again. Also, for the record, Ty Dolla $ign is hella underrated.
Blugold Radio Blogger Jordan Veloso Reviews Saint Pablo Tour
For all of the negative qualities Kanye West is labeled with, whether it’s being arrogant, egocentric, etc., there is no denying his ambition to take hold of the status quo and thrust it into the avant-garde. This unwavering determination was showcased in all of its glory at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on October 10th, where he took his St. Pablo Tour after nearly nine years of cancellations in the city.
The show started about eighty minutes late and had no opening act, a first for any concert I’ve attended. While waiting, a haze of fog was continually pumped into the venue as a pulsating bass played through a ring of speakers surrounding the floor area, increasing in volume and intensity as the concert’s delayed start came closer. Around 9:20, the restless arena of almost 18,000 fans was blanketed in darkness. The 15×20 foot stage, suspended by a collection of cables over one end of the floor, lowered to the ground accompanied by spaceship-like noises. I felt my anticipation and adrenaline increase with everyone else’s in a slow crescendo, with the stage joining in its rise. This steady climb halted fifteen feet above the fans on the arena floor, with a lone silhouette visibly standing at the center.
The insanity which followed had Yeezy jumping and erratically dancing atop his hovering stage, yelling his lyrics with the fans. The setlist included selections from his most recent album (The Life of Pablo), his verses from other artists’ songs, and many of his greatest hits (my personal favorite being Runaway), which stretched all the way back to his debut album, The College Dropout. ‘Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1’ from Pablo was the opener to the show and immediately sent a wave of spiritedness over everyone (along with an ear splittingly loud bassline, which pushed me from the edge by the speakers into the center of the crowd. Seriously, I shouldn’t have written off those security guards handing out earplugs beforehand) that never faltered during the concert.
A few mesmerizing light shows lit the floor crowd up in deep shades of orange and red, accompanied by frequent collaborator Mike Dean playing moody synth music reminiscent of an old sci-fi movie (think Blade Runner or 2001: A Space Odyssey). Two interludes played throughout the set-list and transported us to an industrial future on Planet Yeezy. The floating stage stayed dimly-lit for most of the performance as it tilted, rose, lowered and glided over the floor of the Xcel Energy Center, the crowd beneath dancing and following its every movement. The pit right below the stage seemed to become just as much a part of the show as Kanye himself, with the brightest lights being directed there so everyone could admire the fans moshing and losing it (I ventured there for a few of the crazier songs, and it was incredibly cathartic).
Ye, infamous for giving long, unfiltered speeches to fans about whatever is on his mind, was mostly focused on the music, interjecting a few times to welcome fans to the tour or to give stage directions to someone in his entourage. Kanye did stop and run back two songs mid-performance, the first being right after the audience finished belting out the controversial Taylor Swift line from ‘Famous’ for a quick thought about not compromising real artistry for political correctness. The other restart happened during the popular Late Registration cut ‘Touch the Sky’, where he told the crowd, “That sh*t was too crazy the way that sh*t started off, I had to see that sh*t again”. He then proceeded to give Eric, a stage and light coordinator, very specific directions to move the stage slightly back and up right when the beat dropped. “Be prepared,” he warned Eric. Classic Kanye.
‘Runaway’, the artist’s widely celebrated anthem which apologizes for his brash personality, had him telling everyone in the arena to hold their phone lights up during the song’s extended outro, creating a bright glow illuminating everyone’s faces – as if asking for a moment of self-reflection while the speakers oozed his auto-tuned mumbles into the arena. Ending the concert was the powerful, gospel-inspired opener to his last album ‘Ultralight Beam’. An intensely white spotlight blasted down on one end of the floor and slowly pulled Kanye and his stage into its aura. Once the platform was completely taken under the heavenly beam, with prostrated gospel vocals piercing the air, Kanye abruptly disappeared into the light, exiting the stage without a word.
Unlike most concerts, there was no opening act or even a farewell to the crowd. Further separating his show from the rest, the innovative stage design gave concertgoers a better way to experience the performance and turned the idea of finding good viewing spots on its head. The lighting design also carried a strong sense of purpose to it, with the people around me continually staring up in awe. Kanye West is an innovator in his craft and undoubtedly all in for his fans, which he demonstrates with authority in his St. Pablo Tour.
Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1 Pt. 2 Famous Pop Style verse THat Part verse Facts Don’t Like verse All Day Black Skinhead N***** in Paris Can’t Tell Me Nothing Power Interlude Blood on the Leaves Freestyle 4 New Slaves Jesus Walks Flashing Lights Lowlights Highlights Feedback Interlude Wolves Heartless Runaway Only One I Love Kanye Waves Touch the Sky All of the Lights Good Life Stronger Fade Interlude Ultralight Beam