There must be something in the water in Wisconsin. Whatever it is, it makes really good beer (try New Glarus next time you're up north) and it makes for great music.
The rise of Wisconsin bands has been chronicled very well thanks to a certain group you might have heard of, Bon Iver. But the Badger State has much more to offer than Justin Vernon's falsetto, in fact, there are a bevy of bands just from Eau Claire putting their own spin on folk music. One of those groups, The Daredevil Christopher Wright, brings their folk pop stylings to Cowboy Monkey this evening along with local favorites Common Loon and Santah.
DCW create dreamy folk atmospheres over which they layer harmonies a la Fleet Foxes to create a unique vivid, ambient brand of music. The first single, “Divorce,” from their new album The Nature of Things (out June 26, you can preorder it here), is a shining example of the DCW sound and was debuted at Paste last week.
The music of DCW is certainly off-kilter, at times recalling twee pop or employing afro beats. But it never gets over complicated or feels too familiar. It's hard for the band not to draw comparisons to Fleet Foxes for the harmonies, Vampire Weekend for the beats or Bon Iver for the geographic proximity and (vague) sonic similarity, but DCW fits in a place all its own – separate from the bands it is compared to.
The off-kilter nature of the band is certainly a reflection of the individuals in the band. Jason Sunde, who mostly mans the bass for the trio, answered a few questions for Smile Politely before the show and gave us a glimpse into what makes the band so unique.
Smile Politely: How are things in the great north woods? Did you guys actually have a winter this year? Do you ever see that Bon Iver guy around anymore?
Sunde: Things are good. We actually had winter [Sunday]. It snowed. I don't see that Bon Iver guy much lately but I also haven't spent much time in Eau Claire lately. We're living In a town called Amery.
SP: Kind of a neat little three-date tour you guys have going here [Champaign this evening, Chicago tomorrow and Eau Claire on April 21], hitting the hometowns of DCW, Santah, and Common Loon in one fell swoop. How did that come about?
Sunde: I'm not so sure because that's not my category but black magic may have been involved? We're stoked for a fine weekend and really happy to bring those bands to Eau Claire.
SP: You've both self-released and worked with labels to release your work in the past. What are some of the pluses and minuses for you?
Sunde: People say labels are maybe dying but I guess I don't see that happening yet. I really prefer the label route personally because it's a pretty big investment to promote a record properly.
SP: The cover of The Nature of Things is really sparkly. How did you manage that?
Sunde: Sparkles everywhere. Actually, we built that thing then took a picture of it on a bitterly cold winter day. It has about 3000 sequins.
SP: Anything else new and different that the fine folks of C–U should be made aware of?
Sunde: Well, my personal future is now informed by the reading of Pride and Prejudice (only took me forever). That mainly means that I now think of more longish unused words than I used to before I say the ones that come out of my mouth. Or sometimes I pretend to know what those long words mean and actually use them.
Sunde and his bandmates will put their quirky personalities on display this evening at Cowboy Monkey. The show costs $7 and starts at 9:30 p.m. Santah opens, followed by DCW and closed out with a set from Common Loon.