Local Music: Strategic

Cameron fills us in on Appleton musician Strategic’s new independent EP, “Checkmate.”

Brandon Van Dalen, an Appleton native, has been spreading his music across the area for quite some time now. With local influences including the likes of Cory Chisel, The Wildbirds and Ivory, Van Dalen started playing in bands in high school and has been developing his sound for the past decade. His newest solo act, Strategic, has recently released a third EP, titled “Checkmate.”
The EP shows off the musician’s many facets. “Love Handles” employs an energetic, straight-ahead pop feel, while “From Previous,” in the same vein, displays experimentation with texture changes.  “One Night Stands” conjures up Van Dalen’s bluesy and funky side, using a crunchier and nasally guitar sound layered with a tasteful pentatonic piano melody underneath driving power chords to blend the contrasting styles into their overall sound. “Pain & Strife” highlights Van Dalen’s vocal know-how while proving that Strategic has a more sensitive side, emotionally and musically.

In his media kit, Van Dalen writes: “My songwriting approach is mostly based off of experiences I’ve had in relationships, faith, loneliness, and other situations. I try to take an honest look at those things through the lens of forgiveness, hope, progress and purpose. Themes of love and identity overpower much of my work.”


Strategic has a kind of pop rock sound that evokes the 90s. As great as the 90s pop rock was though, Strategic has been able to reinterpret that sound, developing his own, which is mature yet fresh and ever-developing. In the rich, full power chords and vocal melodies there is familiarity, yet the shifting textures and catches hold some surprise.

For more information about Strategic, contact [email protected] or visit or

The band promoted their EP last Saturday at Copper Rock Coffee on College Avenue in Appleton. Did anyone make it to the show? What were your feelings/thoughts? Leave a comment below!

—Cameron Carrus

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