Rolling Up the Sleeves

UWEC alum’s new project, Mr. Sleeves, debuts album

Lauren Buelow Cunningham

“Eclectic” is a word that is regularly thrown around by both musicians and music appreciators. Many rock stars boast their secret love of jazz, or pop singers claim that Beethoven is their guilty pleasure, but few artists dare to dive in head first and combine everything they love about music. Even fewer possess the passion to write, record, produce, and promote it all on their own. Such passion exists in Adam Braatz, formerly of the Chip Valley music scene (Stones Throw jazz nights) and an UW-Eau Claire alum. Braatz’s new indie project, Mr. Sleeves, is almost a decade in the making, and their debut album, Dismayed to Death?, contains that many and more years of eclectic musical influence. The project had been on his mind for years when Braatz teamed up with fellow USAF bandman Ben Pederson and finally began recording in 2009. Release of DTD? was delayed until November (due to having recording equipment stolen), but now here it is. DTD? contains 11 original tracks that fuse rock guitar, pop piano, jazz horns, and narrative lyrics. For example, the intro to It Suits Me brings to mind a smoky jazz club, but then the rock drums pick up the pace and lead into a Ben Folds-style narrative about a relationship that’s just not working out. The smoky club and Folds concert styles play back and forth between verses and breaks flawlessly. Lydia is for the most part a synth-pop-y love song, but ends with a piano solo that harkens back to Braatz’s jazz days. Dismayed to Death? is available for FREE(!) download at mrsleeves.com.

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