Eau Claire based ethereal-rockers picard released their debut full length #1 in February 2014. It is a triumphant celebration/culmination of hard work (and unique vision) rooted in the hardscrabble Wisconsin winter of 2011/2012 when multi-instrumentalist Jason Ulwelling first conceived the project in a tiny alcove of his home as a way to remain creatively viable after the dissolution of his previous band Orestus and as a release valve for the pressures mounting (both marital and material) in his personal life. What began as one man shepherding his soul via a guitar, a mic, and a computer gradually grew into a collective of some of this city’s most revered and talented rock artists. Attracted to Ulwelling’s sincere yet stark tones were the likes of lead guitarist Eric Giardina (ex-Black Flood Diesel), rhythm guitarist Rick St. Germaine (ex-Senza), drummers Brad Hanson (ex-No Loving Place) and Cory Dahl (ex-Mojo Lemon), bassist Phil Juodis (ex-South Farwell), and keyboardist (and scene newcomer) Anna Ringstad. The album was recorded in Menomonie, Wisconsin by Gin Blossom’s drummer John L. Richardson at his Drum Farm Studios and boasts a rich, resplendent sound whose carefully constructed layers reward listeners both canny and casual. Complex arrangements (like “Distending” with its 128 tracks and off kilter melody straight out of a Shaw Brothers’ flick) seamlessly rub shoulders with big riffs (“The Effort”), bigger choruses (“Ed”) and emotionally redolent strings (courtesy of father/daughter duo Dean and Olivia Langby on cello and violin, respectively), and Ulwelling’s powerful, stirring vocals rising like a wish (or a prayer) overall. This attention to detail is a cornerstone of their live performance as well. Upon the parting of the curtain, an audience’s senses are awash in color, caricature (each song has its own visual accompaniment) and choreography that, coupled with the aural component, creates a truly distinct experience.
~ Andrew Patrie