In Music

In Music

Dustworks EP arrives after careful germination

You may have read about alt.country rockers Dustworks in these pages a year or so ago and about the EP they were preparing to release. Well, sometimes good things need time to properly germinate and it has taken a little longer than expected, but "Atlas" is finally here.

"Of the songs that we had that were in for consideration, some were finished as early as 2002, more were written in 2003 and some were even finished in mid-2004," says Ryan, one of the two Stang brothers in the band (Casey is the other one), which was formed in Madison and also includes keyboardist and laptop guy Adam Dingeldein, keyboardist Tim Larsen, guitarist Joe Muth and drummer Brandon Palmer.

"We don't rush anything," admits Casey Stang. "Some songs I've finished in a day, but others may take months. I usually don't worry about the time frame too much. It's very rare that I sit down saying, 'OK, it's time to write or finish a song.' Ideas usually just come up as I'm strumming at home, or out and about and once the initial idea or melody is there, the songs usually finish themselves over time, at any given time. That's why I have piles of paper scraps in almost all of my coat pockets."

The disc was recorded at home, so the pressures of finishing fast didn't exist for Dustworks, and it allowed them to create a good selection of tunes from which to pick the six that made it to the finished disc.

"We kind of rotate all our songs through our live set lists," says Ryan Stang, "so we're really not ones to say 'our newest stuff has to be on the record.' We just went with how they felt, and the ones that felt the best together got the nod. Casey writes really good songs, so our job is to bring them to life in the best way that we can. Sometimes we have too many options -- a lot of instruments and possibilities -- but we usually know when to ease off on the production. It's important that all the instrumental insanity doesn't overpower the narratives."

What makes the band different from the usual suspects in alt.country is that while you'll hear hints of Wilco, there's a post-punk edge to most of the tunes and Dustworks seems as rooted in alternative pop/rock as in Americana.

This certainly grows out of the band's diverse tastes, which emerge in Stang's description of the disc's drum sound.

"The drums remind me of Levon Helm's drums on The Band's brown album, which always remains a touchstone for us, even if we're fixated on listening to The Arcade Fire or Dios from week to week."

As for the full-length that normally trails behind an EP, Ryan Stang has already promised one and, as always, the band is working away.

"There are always a bunch of songs that we're working on," says Casey Stang. "So far this process has worked well for us and produced songs that we're all happy with."

In the meantime, the band plays a CD release party for "Atlas," with pal Michelle Anthony -- who contributed some banjo parts to the EP -- Friday, Jan. 28 at Shank Hall, 1434 N. Farwell Ave. Showtime is 10 p.m.

The Dustworks Web site is dustworks.net.

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