Want to hear the best 2018 artists and bands of the Chippewa Valley? Well Right here is the spot!Thank you to Volume One for their always great coverage of the latest here in the Chippewa Valley.
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’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.
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 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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Listen to the two new tracks below:
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 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:
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”!
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.
The Eau Queer Film Festival is an exciting and important annual event highlighting both short films and features that focus on LGBTQ voices and issues and that “challenge gender binaries, heteronormativity, and the status quo”.
This year marks the 7th annual Eau Queer Film Festival, and the theme for this year’s fest is “Power, Privilege, Protest: It’s Personal. It’s Political”.
The 2016 Eau Queer Film Festival will take place October 11–15 in the Davies Student Center’s Woodland Theater at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire, and all films and discussions are free for students, staff, faculty and community members.
In addition to a great lineup of movies (the 2016 film schedule can be seen here) the festival is going to be featuring live music in the “Q Lounge”, which will be set up just outside of the Woodland Theater. We wanted to spotlight the musical artists participating in the festival this year and give some more information on them as well as some tracks and videos to peruse. Hopefully this will get you even more excited to attend Eau Queer and to see some important cinema and enjoy some live music while you’re at it too!
Idle Empress is an EC-based trio that make dynamic folk-rock. Fronted by the strong yet soothing voice of Lauren Anderson (who also plays guitar) and joined by drummer Elliot Heinz and bassist Josh Frederick, these three have been some of the most active artists in the Chippewa Valley music scene this last year.
Sniffle Party is the moniker of vocalist and lyricist Serena Wagner, who teams up with producer & beat-maker Eric Christenson (aka Two Castles) to bring to life some seriously catchy and atmospheric dream-pop jams.
Jerrika Mighelle has been making and playing music in the Chippewa Valley for many years now, previously with QuinnElizabeth and now as a solo artist. Jerrika is a self-described “Indie Folk Singer/Songwriter” and her powerful voice and heartfelt lyrics make for a one-two punch that gives her songs some serious weight and beauty.
For more info on Eau Queer Film Festival check out EQFF’s website
So much new music, so little time: We’re Wolves howled into first place with an uber-cool blend of folk, pop, and hip-hop, while Sniffle Party’s neat beats and woozy vocals waltzed into second place. New kid on the block and Fall Creek hip-hopper extraordinaire Brayton Meyer came in third place this year; check out his EP, Real Life. — Darrion Behrendt
The term “electronic music” feels a bit broad. Over the past 40 or so years, synthesizers have been employed to play anything from righteous classical music to the hard techno that pumps life through even the most underground rave. The Chippewa Valley has quite the burgeoning electronic music scene led by these three local synth masters. Coming in third this year is Two Castles, an electronic project which pairs unique beats with warm analog synths and a lo-fi edge. In second, we have newcomer Sniffle Party who makes infectious, sad girl pop songs with tons of heart and moody, soulful vocals. And, in first place is master of the downtempo groove, Sloslylove, who creates the perfect experimental dance tunes for you to get down to until the early hours of the morning. The Eaux Claires festival took notice, and booked Sloslylove for their 2016 lineup on The Banks stage. — Scott Morfitt
There is truly a wealth of musical talent here in the Chippewa Valley; so many bands and artists playing great music in a multitude of different genres. Hip-hop, metal, punk, folk, electronic, country, jazz, and more! …whatever type of music you are into there are quite likely some local artists writing, recording, and performing your kind of tunes. It’d be quite the undertaking to try and list each and every one of them here, so for this article we’re just going to be highlighting three in particular who have had really exciting and noteworthy developments happen recently and who have been getting some regional, national, or even international attention. It also just so happens that all three have some upcoming shows in the very near future (hint hint: you should go to them!).
So whether you’re new to Eau Claire or just want to jump in deeper with the area’s much talked about music scene, here is a jumping off point of three great EC bands/artists to check out:
Idle Empress is a three-piece band that writes evocative folk-rock music. The trio is fronted by Lauren Anderson, who got her start as a singer/songwriter playing solo at open mics in EC. After connecting with Elliot Heinz (drums) and Josh Frederick (bass), the band quickly became an Eau Claire favorite. Idle Empress released their debut EP earlier this year and it has garnered them attention beyond the Chippewa Valley, including a recent appearance on WPR’s Set List! These three are also a very big part of EC’s house-show scene and routinely put on and play house shows at different DIY spots throughout the city including “Vivian”, the basement venue they all help run.
Read More About Idle Empress:
9/9 @ The Mousetrap Tavern w/ Ego Death & Two Castles
21+, free, more info here
9/10 @ House of Rock w/ Distant Friends, The Chinchees, Arms Aloft & sloslylove
21+, $5, more info here
Sniffle Party is the moniker of vocalist/lyricist Serena Wagner who teams up with producer/beatmaker Eric Christenson (aka Two Castles) to make what Serena describes as “dreamy sad-girl pop”. The songs are catchy, danceable, atmospheric, and fun but tinged with just enough melancholy to be right for almost any mood–whether you’re happy or sad, these songs manage to sit just right with you. The debut Sniffle Party EP came out earlier this year and is titled “Peach Dream”, and one of the tracks off the EP (“Cavalier”) was just recently selected for an official Spotify playlist and has since racked up nearly 60,000 international listens.
Read More About Sniffle Party:
9/11 @ Vivian for Unbound Zine Release Show w/ Idle Empress, The Nunnery
All ages, $5, more info here
Arms Aloft is an EC/MPLS four-piece punk band made up of Seth Gile (guitar/lead vocals), Jack Gribble (drums), Alex Bammel (guitar/vocals), and Matt Keil (bass/vocals). The music that Arms Aloft makes matches driving, anthemic instrumentation with lyrics that speak to modern struggles both personal and political. They’ve been around for nearly a decade now, they’ve played all over the US, been on three European tours, and are heading out this fall with punk supergroup The Falcon and standup comedian/Comedy Central darling Kyle Kinane. They’re also dropping their brand new record “What A Time To Be Barely Alive” this month, which will be getting released and distributed internationally and will add to their current discography which includes the “Comfort At Any Cost” EP, their debut full length entitled “Sawdust City” (which you can listen to below!), and a split 7″ they did with French punk band Guerilla Poubelle called “Taches Noires Vivantes/Living Black Spots”.
Read More About Arms Aloft:
9/10 @ House of Rock *RECORD RELEASE PARTY* w/ Idle Empress, Distant Friends, & sloslylove
21+, $5, more info here