Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Summer Stock

Review of John Vanderslice's Romanian Names and giveaway

Photo By Autumn de WildeAutumn de WildeHaving followed John Vanderslice’s career from a respectful distance for many years now – spending a lot of time with some records, completely overlooking others – I would have said that while I’d always expect his records to be enjoyable, coupling solid songwriting with subtly idiosyncratic production, I would never expect to be floored by anything he put out. He’s just been so content batting for average that there’s no reason to think he’d suddenly open up the stance and swing for the fences.

And you wouldn’t call his latest album Romanian Names a home run, but it does stand apart from the rest of his discography to count as a solid double, maybe even a ground-rule. And it’s hard to tell, at first, what sets this one apart because the ingredients are much the same as the previous records. The melodies are still just too twisty to count as immediate, but remain deeply memorable, the production full of aural treats that might just as easily go unnoticed but reward attentive listeners and Vanderslice’s voice and words as plaintive and moving as ever. So what’s different? Well there’s a certain sonic and emotional richness to the proceedings that’s not necessarily new, but is simpler, clearer and more striking. But best I can tell is all of the above have combined for some magical ratio or emotionally resonant frequency that the ‘Slice hadn’t quite managed before and has resulted in a record that’s as good an example as any as to why he’s so highly regarded and puzzlingly underappreciated.

Vanderslice just wrapped an extensive round of touring, but will gear up for a small handful of Canadian dates and courtesy of Against The Grain, I’ve got three pairs of passes to give away to his Friday night (July 10) show at the Horseshoe with Cotton Jones. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want the ‘Slice” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Contest closes at midnight, July 8 – that’s tomorrow night.

American Songwriter has a feature piece and Decider an interview with John Vanderslice, while Blurt reviews and compares two of his shows. NPR declared “Too Much Time” their song of the day for yesterday.

MP3: John Vanderslice – “Too Much Time”
MP3: John Vanderslice – “Fetal Horses”
Video: John Vanderslice – “Forest Knolls”
Video: John Vanderslice – “Too Much Time”
MySpace: John Vanderslice

I don’t know if the above baseball metaphor was appropriate for John Vanderslice – does the ‘Slice like the baseball? – but it would have been perfect for the September 13 bill at the Horseshoe. That night you’ll have The Minus 5, The Baseball Project and The Steve Wynn IV – which as I understand will essentially be Scott McCaughey, Peter Buck, Steve Wynn and Linda Pitmon playing material from all three above catalogs and basically just having more fun than Junior Felix’s inside-the-park grand slam against the Red Sox back in ’89 – and that, my friends, was fun. If you were a Jays fan. Tickets for that one are $13.50 in advance.

The Seattle Times talks to Death Cab For Cutie’s Nick Harmer.

Under The Radar interviews Justin Rice of Bishop Allen.

San Francisco’s Sleepy Sun are at the Drake Underground on September 21, tickets $10. Their debut album is Embrace and they released a Daytrotter session back in May.

The Washington Post talks to Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy.

The Toronto date for Joe Pernice’s concert/bookreading tour has been set for September 15 at the Dakota Tavern. Not to say that it’s an inappropriate venue by any means, but I like how they selected the room closest to Joe’s west end digs. The new record It Feels So Good When I Stop is out August 4 but available to pre-order now with attendant bonus goodies.

The Dirty Projectors show cancelled last month on account of that unfortunate car accident has been rescheduled for July 22, presumable again at Lee’s Palace – tickets will only be available at Rotate This and Soundscapes starting Thursday. Pitchfork has an interview with Dave Longstreth, the dirtiest projector of them all.

The Skinny and The Quietus talk to Kevin Barnes of Of Montreal, though the latter only about Woody Allen.

You can download Ume’s recent session at WOXY, including a couple of new songs.

You Ain’t No Picasso asks Andy Stack of Wye Oak about his first time. At stuff. Their new album The Knot is out July 21.

Oklahoman psych-poppers – no, not those ones – Starlight Mints will release a new album in Change Remains on July 21 and hit the road to support, including an August 9 date at the Horseshoe – tickets $9.

MP3: Starlight Mints – “Zoomba”

NPR talks to Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance of Merge Records on the occasion of the label’s 20th anniversary.

The Skinny profiles The Horrors, who have a date at Lee’s Palace on October 14.

The Singing Lamb talks to Mica Levy of Micachu & The Shapes in advance of their July 14 show at the El Mocambo.

Daytrotter is sharing the goods from a session with Los Campesinos.

The Advocate interviews Patrick Wolf, whose recent Daytrotter session is now up and available for grabby hands.

The New York Times hangs out in New York City with Bat For Lashes’ Natasha Khan. Shopping ensues.

Elvis Costello plays a World Cafe session for NPR. He’s at Massey Hall on August 28.

Art Brut are finally touring their latest album Art Brut Vs Satan through Toronto, having scheduled a date at Lee’s Palace for August 12, tickets $17.50. Yes, they’re kind of ridiculous as a band but they’re undeniably fun. You can download a track from the new record over at RCRDLBL and this is the first video from the album.

Video: Art Brut – “Alcoholics Unanimous”

Three more new videos out of the the UK – the first single from The Twilight Sad’s sophomore album Forget The Night Ahead, due out September 22, Bloc Party’s new non-album single “One More Chance”, out August 10, and the latest from Franz Ferdinand’s Tonight.

Video: The Twilight Sad – “I Became A Prostitute”
Video: Bloc Party – “One More Chance”
Video: Franz Ferdinand – “Can’t Stop Feeling”

While one might feel compelled to salute The Stone Roses from jumping on the reunion bandwagon – John Squire tells BBC he’s had calls from relatives for reunion gig tickets – it seems it’s only because they intend to cash in on nostalgia fever via their 20th anniversary reissues. NME has details on the three tiers of reissues that will be coming on August 11. The remastering job from John Leckie is a real draw, but the rest of the bonus goods are probably not worth your while.

By : Frank Yang at 8:48 am
Category: Contests

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RSS Feed for this post4 Responses.
  1. Joe says:

    Frank, I think this is absolutely JV’s best album to date, just love it.

  2. alan says:

    nine inch nails at toronto virgin fest according to pitchfork

    also, for ottawaians, vanderslice is performing at bluesfest twice this weekend. once out of doors, and once in a beautiful intimate theatre inside the war museum.

  3. Adrian says:

    To partially answer your off-handed question: I’m not sure of whether JV likes baseball or not. He’s definitely a big basketball fan. I’ve never heard him talk about baseball whereas I’ve heard him talk about basketball a ton. He has been to baseball games though.

  4. Patrick says:

    NIN headlining V-fest and finishing up with “fun” club shows in NYC, LA, and Chicago