Wednesday, September 01, 2004

A Lion So Meek

Often I find new musicians to bug everybody about until I force it off on them. I've just found another. His name is John Vanderslice. I bought his album "Time Travel is Lonely" a couple of months ago after constantly seeing his name pop up in the liner notes of some great bands like Beulah, Death Cab For Cutie, the Mountain Goats, Pedro the Lion, and Spoon. Turns out John is a recording wiz-kid and owner of the San Francisco studio Tiny Telephone. After so much name-dropping, I had to check him out. "Time Travel is Lonely" is a good album with some great songs, but not quite a great album. Still I picked up his latest, "Cellar Door," and was not disappointed at all.

This is one of the most eclectic albums I've heard in a long time. He uses mostly acoustic guitars, but surrounds them with so much swirling noise is can be disorienting at times. The opener "Pale Horse" is probably one of the best songs you'll hear all year, combining crunchy acoustic guitars with tinny drums, poking trumpets, and swirling strings. Then he completely changes directions with the mostly electronic "Up Above the Sea." The real highlight on the album is the haunting "Promising Actress." It starts off with the most haunting bells I've heard outside of a dream and slowly is filled with strings and acoustics. It's really something else. Then he switches directions again with the Gary Numan-like "Coming and Going on Easy Terms."

Definitely check this album out. It may take a while to get used to his voice. He definitely comes from the Jeff Mangum and Andy LeMaster school of singing and has a tendency to lay it on a bit thick. Plus he looks like such a wuss! He would probably fit on Kirsten's fantasy football team, if you know what I mean.

If you still aren't sure, check out his mp3 page. You can download his Cellar Door remix album, his entire first album, his EP for the Insound tour support, all three albums by his former band MK Ultra, a recent live show, and several b-sides. Can't beat that! At least download "Pale Horse." Trust me, you'll love it....whoever you are.