There must be something in the water out there in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Justin Vernon has seen his popularity skyrocket recently coming off the release of his sophomore effort Bon Iver, Bon Iver, an album chock full of layered falsetto and choirboy harmonies. But Vernon's crew isn't the only one from Eau Claire dedicated to putting vocal harmonies up front: the Daredevil Christopher Wright has been honing their pipes since their first full-length, In Deference To A Broken Back (which was mixed by Vernon, because the world is a tiny place).
On Friday, September 16, the trio will open a heavy folk/country-ish bill in First Avenue's Mainroom, which is the official record release show for both Caroline Smith and the Good Night Sleeps' Little Wind and Dead Man Winter's Bright Lights. As if that line-up wasn't enough already, local favorites Dark Dark Dark are also playing, kicking off a month-long tour.[jump]
Did we mention that DCW also has a new EP that just came out digitally?
The EP, a five-song collection dubbed The Longsuffering Song, is longer than you might expect, and this stems from the trio's comfort with writing songs that push six minutes when they need to. A choir of voices opens the record with "Day Song 080208," a short, hymn-like tune that would easily fit into a choir teacher's file of practice etudes. This uncanny opening makes more sense once you know that singer Jon Sunde and his brother Jason, the group's bass player, studied classical voice in college.
The Longsuffering Song features two vocal harmony tunes ("Day Song 080208" and "The Man of Significance"), and while these meanderings work live as a segue between songs, they feel a little excessive on a five-song EP.
But, the rest of the EP features some sharp songwriting. "Love With All Your Heart" runs by on the strength of fluid guitar lines and brushed cymbals, underscored by the effortless harmonies the group is capable of. The non-4/4 time parts near the end don't sound strained or put-upon either: Sunde's vocal lines fit the changes like a glove.
As usual, DCW's use of percussion knick-knacks is one the EP's strong suits. Brushes, glockenspiel and various shakers all make cameos on the album, giving the album a sound larger than the band's three members.
Though DCW's music generally fits within the indie pop/folk spectrum, they're not too earnest about everything - after all, they are named the Daredevil Christopher Wright. "The Animal of Choice," the second track on the EP, features the clever line "We'll be the namesake of every band," after some other lines about becoming wolves and bears. Your move, Wolfmother/Wolf Parade/ et. al.
The Longsuffering Song is a solid effort, but the live setting is easily the best place to experience DCW. The trio's tight-knit harmonies are anchored by a confident musicality; they even perform in a close semi-circle live.
Show up early on Friday and catch this impressive group of Eau Claire-ites before the rest of this quality night of folk/country.
The Daredevil Christopher Wright play at First Avenue this Friday, September 16. Caroline Smith and the Good Night Sleeps, Dark Dark Dark, and Dead Man Winter also play. 7:30 pm, 18+, $12.
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