The all-ages, all local showcase series Sawdust City Limits returns this Saturday September 16th for its third incarnation! #SCL3 features an exciting and eclectic mix of eight of the Chippewa Valley’s best bands/artists. To prep you for this awesome event we’ve compiled an overview here for your browsing & listening pleasure to help you get to know the featured performers before you head out to The Plus this Saturday. Scroll on through to sample selected tracks for each band and hopefully we’ll see you down front this Saturday singing along with your favorite EC musicmakers (and maybe finding a few new favorites too!).
We are thrilled to announce that we are working on another project with Eau Claire studio, Toy Car Studios on anther fantastic evening of music in a space you have to experience for yourself to realize how amazing it truly is.
On April 14th we will bring together Eau Claire bands Sniffle Party and The Ronald Raygun and introduce Close Talker, an amazing band from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. This will be a mesmerizing lineup in a special place.
Band Bio: Close Talker is the exalted indie rock trio from Saskatoon, Canada. Formed in 2012, the band has made great strides in a short period of time: two releases, numerous tours throughout North America, Europe, and the UK, and international attention from revered and critically acclaimed blogs and publications. Close Talker is a band born and raised in the Canadian prairies, made up of childhood friends Will Quiring, Matthew Kopperud, and Christopher Morien. Since becoming a trio in the summer of 2015, the band has now honed their craft, creating a more vast and iconic sound that is turning heads and drawing crowds around the world.
2016 was the year that Sniffle Party (Serena Wagner by day) became a staple of the local Eau Claire music scene. After releasing her debut EP “Peach Dream” last April–which you can listen to below along with her newest single–Sniffle/Serena has kept busy playing numerous shows throughout the area…appearing in basements and bars, at Phoenix Park, The Cabin, and more!
She describes her music as “dreamy future witch pop”, and that paints a perfect and evocative picture of the atmospheric, catchy, melancholy tunes she brings to life with the help of producer/beatmaker Two Castles (who also did a “Best Of 2016” list for us that you can see here). Serena’s dedication to the DIY art scene in Eau Claire extends beyond music, though, with her and collaborator Elle McGee releasing Twig Issue No. 2 last year as well. Twig is an independently published zine that compiles illustrations and poems from area artists and wordsmiths. Find out more about Twig here.
…there’s little doubt that 2017 will be another busy year for Serena artistically, and area music/visual art/poetry fans can look forward to more Sniffle tunes, art prints, and zines from Serena & Co in the year to come. In the meantime, though, enjoy the music she’s already put out as well as the six albums below that she picked for us as her favorite releases of 2016!
CRUMB – Crumb
Crumb’s three-song ep is a sweet little bundle of happiness! 1970’s soft rock mixed with a lil’ blues and topped with a badass wavy female-lead vocalist. best songs: all three.
BIBIO – A Mineral Love
This album is truly something special. It’s ebb and flow between samples, synths, and smooth guitar keep me in it the whole time. Best songs of the album? They’re all pretty great so its best you just dive into the whole thing.
KING – We Are King
King has totally captivated me. This album successfully weaves a powerful yet classic alt r&b sound with electronic synths and echoing vaporware vibes. Best songs off the album: Hey + The Story.
MOSES SUMNEY – Lamentations
I don’t really know how to describe my thoughts on Moses Sumney (now EXC alumni) besides the fact that i’m in love. His incredible vocal range in harmonies and dabbling guitar offer something much along the likes of Lianne La Havas with a little bit of Prince. Best songs off the album: Worth It + Lonely World.
LAPSLEY – Long Way Home
If you haven’t given Laplsey a listen yet, she deserves your ears. Her commanding yet smooth voice and pop elements are similar to that of London Grammar, but with a more intimate delivery. Best songs off the album: Falling Short + Love is Blind + Hurt Me (but really its all good).
DAWN RICHARD – Redemption
Dawn Richard has a voice like buttah. This year she released “Redemption” with a more haunting electronic sound that I can’t get out of my head. definitely a good album if you’re lookin’ to boss out. Best songs off the album: Sands + Vines.
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 is proud to be helping debut brand new music from local artists Two Castles and Sniffle Party!
Two Castles and Sniffle Party make lo-fi dreampop songs in Eau Claire Wisconsin. Mixing future beats with reverb-y flourishes, neo-noir synths, thumping bass, dazzling arpeggios, and haunting vocals, the two musicians are carving out a distinct sound you don’t find much around here. Two Castles released an EP called “Night Talk” in January – three moonlit songs that lash out with lo-fi tones and brood with nocturnal synths. Sniffle Party debuted her stunning EP Peach Dream in April (produced by Two Castles) – an infectious set of four dreamy, yet dark synthpop anthems, each track bringing bursts of 80s pop punch, hazy summer vibes, and a soulful and stirring voice.
Alright, we’ve got once last entry for you to get you all sufficiently prepped and excited for Sawdust City Limits #1!
Dreamy and atmospheric, melancholy yet catchy–the dream pop of Sniffle Party is sure to not only get you dancing but stick in your head for days after.
The Jim Pullman Band
The Jim Pullman Band have been an EC staple for awhile now, and they sure now how to put on amazing live shows and produce great, heart-felt rock songs that blend a love of classic rock ‘n’ roll with modern sensibilities.
Eau Claire has maintained a reputation for having a vibrant music scene for many years now, and that acclaim only continues to grow further with the formation of the Eaux Claires festival and a new album from EC’s most famous resident. In addition to all things Justin Vernon the Chippewa Valley holds within it active scenes from multiple genres of music including punk, metal, folk, hip-hop, electronic, jazz, and more, and the artists making and performing this music can be seen weekly in the venues, bars, and basements of the Sawdust City.
Eau Claire, though, is quickly becoming more and more on the national radar for something else too…comedy! The Chippewa Valley is now home to a burgeoning stand-up scene. At the heart of it is a group of local comedians who go by Clear Water Comedy and who book, produce, promote, and perform on a weekly show at The Plus and other additional shows and events around the Chippewa Valley.
Clear Water Comedy formed a little over a year and a half ago and have since steadily grown from shows featuring exclusively local comics to now pulling in national headliners with credits like The Tonight Show, Comedy Central, Parks & Rec, Master of None, @midnight, Conan, Inside Amy Schumer, and more. Eau Claire has become a place where names like Kyle Kinane, Joe Mande, Aparna Nancherla and others can be seen. For those who like to laugh, this is an exciting development.
The beautiful thing about the size of the arts scene here in EC is that it’s big enough to continue growing and sustaining itself but it’s still small enough to be close-knit. There’s a lot of friendship and crossover from the well-established music scene and the newly minted standup scene. The best example of this is The Standup Getdown show that has popped up a few times and is now slated for a 4th outing later tonight. It’s a free event that showcases both EC’s music and comedy scenes on the same stage.
We’ve assembled more info on the Getdown’s music artists and some tracks to sample so that those of you who are new to both EC music and comedy can know a little more about what you’re in for:
Sniffle Party & Two Castles
Two Castles is the moniker of EC artist Eric Christenson. Eric’s solo music as Two Castles is lo-fi synth pop, melancholy yet danceable. He is also the producer/beatmaker that collaborated with vocalist/lyricist Serena Wagner (aka Sniffle Party) to bring her dream-pop debut EP “Peach Dream” to life. Two Castles and Sniffle Party were voted #3 and #2 favorite electronic artists in the Chippewa Valley in this year’s Volume One reader’s poll, and Sniffle Party was also voted one of the “Best New Bands”!
Blvck Spirit is name of EC poet and rapper Sheikh Jammeh. Sheikh’s poetry has been featured in NOTA and by Twig and he has so far put out two singles under his Blvck Spirit moniker.
Doks Robotiks are an EC/MPLS hip-hop group that mix an old-school influence with a modern sensibility. Doks combines catchy jazz and funk instrumentation with lyrics that are brimming with positive, meaningful messages; Doks have a surefire recipe to make you feel good.