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Local Radar: VANDAAM, Observer Drift and GREY(coyote)

  Play Now [4:13]

by Jon Schober

April 25, 2013


Local Radar highlights bands that the local team at The Current is spinning heavily at their desks. You’ll be able to preview a track from each as well as hear them on The Local Show and Local Current.

I wrote about VANDAAM last September when two songs of their were circulating on Bandcamp. Our interest was peaked during the production process for our Eau Claire episode of The Local Show. It was a side project (or maybe main project?) of SloSlyLove out in the Chippewa Valley, split between Eau Claire and Minneapolis. Now it’s transitioned into a trio based here in the Twin Cities with Adept and Lady Midnight joining in on the beat-making process.

Over the past several months, VANDAAM has been playing frequently around town with little to no publicity of the events. Everything I have heard has been that these shows are usually packed with casual bystanders and uber-fans. Now there is a new release circulating the web, and it’s extremely encouraging to hear how far these three have come.

The two initial demos were fascinating enough, but VANDAAM’s current release is a gorgeous, down-tempo and matured affair. Opening song “Electron Oceans” gleams across stunning beats and production. You’ll have plenty of options to see them going forth, including gigs at Icehouse with UP ROCK on May 11 and one on May 24 at the Triple Rock with I Self Devine.

Observer Drift

Last week we played the first taste of Observer Drift’s new album Fjords on The Local Show. The details regarding this artist – the moniker of Collin Ward – are still the same. He’s still a student out in Bloomington. He’s still getting a ton of traction from media outlets here and abroad. And he’s still making some great songs.

“Sporting Chance” and the two other cuts the local team has heard from the record indicate a few things. Ward has grown in his recording ability. The tracks are way more polished, less lo-fi and they “bite” a little bit better. It’s much like the transition Ernest Greene made with Washed Out, from his early EPs to the debut full-length.

So I’m glad to report that Ward’s debut last year – which gathered accolades and end-of-year recognition by many local critics – wasn’t just a fluke. Now the next order of business (as I continually press him – sorry Collin!): he’s got to assemble a band and play out live. We’ll see what transpires, but the guy’s still got a good hold on melodic sensibility. At least we have a new record to enjoy with the volume cranked up.


Yesterday we got a new track from St. Paul’s Schuyer Petersen and his project GREY(coyote). It comes to us with slightly sad undertones as it is part of Macalester’s WMCN’s new local mixtape which is dedicated to the memory of Henry Mackaman. You may remember that the Phantom Vibration guitarist recently passed away.

That being said, it is a heartfelt ode to the guy, since many – if not all – of the bands have collaborated with Phantom Vibration at some point. Each track on the compilation is a standout, but I was particularly interested in the GREY(coyote) cut.

“One Day Been” is a new song from the classically trained percussionist which is extremely difficult to nail down stylistically. His influences lists The Books, Dosh and Why? among the bunch, all of which I can definitely hear, but his music still flies on a completely different plane. There isn't a ton of change in composition to keep listeners on the tips of their toes like other bands employ. The vocals are fuzzy and don’t really build. He’s loud, and he keeps it loud throughout. But it feels good to hear a song that's more concerned with the emotional side of the spectrum (and it doesn't hurt that Petersen is a great instrumentalist). I think that's why "One Day Been" ends up being so powerful. You get caught up in the moment and take a ride with the song.

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This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.