Well, readers, you may have noticed that RFC is rockin' sister sites these days. Look up. See those snazzy links to the left side of the header? Yep, those are our sister sites. (Also, there's a handy link to Radio Free Chicago on Facebook. Have you "liked" us yet?!) The best part of these new RFC siblings is the fact that they're both run by RFC alums. Indie College is helmed by the lovely Mylynda, who's as music savvy as she is pretty, and Mezzic is helmed by RFC's own personal Tony Stark, John Brunner. Now, I'm not one to turn my back on RFC family because being a part of the RFC family is kind of like being a part of a mafia family, and not only because we frequent the Bada Bing. Lately, I've found myself thinking "Man... I wish I could write about this artist but shoot. They're not really relevant to RFC right now." Or... "I've already sort of exhausted the topic." And that's where sister sites come in handy! Because they're always ready and waitin' for brand new content!
I lost my Mezzic v-card recently by reviewing the debut from Milwaukee folk troubadour Wolfgang Schaefer. I came across Schaefer in a wonderful, kismet-y way via a friend who's house Schaefer spent the night at while on tour through the midwest and, knowing my penchant for beards, sad songs, and acoustic guitars (All three of which Wolfgang possesses!), my pal thought it was right up my alley. Guess what? Dude was right!
So when I decided to start a new weekly feature, RFC Thinks You Should Know, I figured why not kick things off with Wolfgang Schaefer? RFC Thinks You Should Know is all about exposing people to under appreciated, little known, and/or local bands that we think deserve your attention and Schaefer certainly fits those criteria.
Schaefer's just-released self titled LP might be only 5 songs long but as you listen to it, you realize each song is better than the last. Schaefer specializes in impeccably composed folk music, as best evidenced on the album's last three tracks, "This Time Is", "Broken Hearts and Billy Clubs", and "The End Of Something", all of which showcase Josh Ritter-like story telling lyrics and gentle, lilting folk music in step with such modern indie heroes as Bonnie 'Prince' Billy and Iron & Wine.
To quote my own review of Schaefer's disc, "The dark overtones of raw emotion that were masked with smooth vocals and lilting acoustic guitar early on in the album are prevalent (on "This Time Is") to great effect. The seductive dirge of “This Time Is” wafts and curls around you before it dissipates like cigarette smoke. When Schaefer sings “This time it works; this time it hurts”, the pain Schaefer feels is audibly evident. It gets under your skin until you find yourself hurting right alongside Schaefer. The ache he sings about isn’t only his ache anymore, it’s yours as well. At nearly five minutes long, “This Time Is” doesn’t seem long enough. Thankfully, the albums two closing tracks are just as strong as “This Time Is”."
Check out this video of Schaefer playing in Iowa, courtesy of that aforementioned pal, Mike Roeder of Play B-Sides.
So why does RFC think you should know Wolfgang Schaefer? Because gorgeous, sad folk music made by a 100% stand up dude whose lyrical intricacies keep things from being anything close to boring is always worth an ear. Watch for Schaefer in a town near you, buy his disc, and offer him your floor to sleep on. And while you're at it, read my full review of Wolfgang Schaefer at Mezzic!