Sounds Like Summer Fourth of July Showcase

The start of July is a pivotal part of the year - it ushers in vacation season and it's accompanied by plenty of holiday festivities as well. I had a chance to get out and travel a bit to visit my friends on the west end of the state (it is a yearly tradition to do family photos) and it wouldn't be a good vacation if there wasn't a chance to see some live music. Thankfully, fireworks weren't the only attraction. Volume One, a local Eau Claire publication, hosts a regular showcase of artists and this iteration fell right on the holiday.

It's always interesting to see how artists vary region to region. The differences are more noticeable in larger metros, where the overall diversity in sound tends to grow. In smaller areas, I typically find a number of bands with a shared sound. Ultimately, the showcase was a bit of a refreshing experience as the artists were some of the more creative acts I've seen in a bit.

Here's a breakdown of each of the artists from the night.
Micah Ryan performs at Phoenix Park

Micah Ryan

Micah Ryan is a native Eau Claire singer-songwriter, crafting morose ballads with a little bit of John Mayer flair mixed in for good measure. He opened the night with a few older tracks, followed by a few that are still unreleased. Ryan's first release is available for purchase and streaming currently, but his sophomore release is due shortly so you'll want to stay tuned. Despite the prevalence of solo acts in Wisconsin, Ryan has managed to amass a decent following and the forthcoming record is sure to open some more doors.

We're Wolves

Micah Ryan was followed by one of the most surprising acts of the night - We're Wolves. The band mixes elements of hip-hop with folks and indie rock. The interplay of Alyssa Thoms' soothing voice and Fathom's strong flow is particularly powerful, with the pair often weaving multiple lines of lyrics together. Of course, the rest of the band is great, too. Adam Thoms handles guitar duties, and he knows how to shred. Paul Buxton handles synths and keys. Even without a bassist, the sound feels full and has plenty of draw. I've always been partial to hip-hop with real instrumentation and more of a rock base, and this fills that niche perfectly. We're Wolves is a coalescence of many great influences all into one band, and while any of these musicians would be great on their own, the ultimate combination is certainly worth keeping this band on your radar.
We're Wolves lays down a blend of hip-hop and rock at Phoenix Park
We're Wolves perform for Sounds Like Summer
Volume One hosts the Sounds Like Summer series at Phoenix Park

Orenda Fugue

Orenda Fugue is an alternative rock/progressive metal band that borrows influences from Tool and Karnivool. Frontman Sean Hanson's vocals are reminiscent of Phil Collins at times. All in all, it's not a style that's all that esoteric but it's rare enough locally that they stand out from more blatant hard rock acts. Their 2018 debut, Revel, is available digitally.
Orenda Fugue at Phoenix Park
Orenda Fugue's drummer
Several bands performed for Sounds Like Summer
The Broken Eights released their new album

The Broken Eights

The Broken Eights were considered a "bonus band" by the hosts, with a contingency that they might not play at all depending on how the weathered played out. Thankfully, the rain passed over and the band took the stage to debut their new album. The band's style is a blend of grunge and hard rock that serves as a nod to the '90s and early '00s. Vocal harmonies abound in this high-energy performance. 

Admittedly, they were not my favorite act of the night. I nonetheless acknowledge there's a big market for this kind of music and they've certainly established themselves in the Eau Claire community. As I mentioned early, the group has just released a new album so that'd be the best starting point to get yourself acquainted with what these guys have to offer. 
The Broken Eights are a grunge band from Eau Claire
The Broken Eights perform at Phoenix Park
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