Keep the Dream Alive
March 27, 2006 7:47 AM   Subscribe

John Vanderslice live, b-sides, and demos. Formerly of the band MK Ultra, John Vanderslice, owner of the Tiny Telephone analog recording studio in San Francisco, California, has become a respected record producer and solo artist. He recently produced The Sunset Tree, the newest record by The Mountain Goats, the musical vehicle of songwriter John Darnielle. Darnielle is credited as a lyrical collaborator on Vanderslice's latest, Pixel Revolt. John likes to put it all out there, offering up a meticulous Pixel Revolt recording diary, user's guide, and detailed album credits. JV on NPR. Cooking with JV.
posted by ludwig_van (20 comments total)
John Vanderslice, on top of being an excellent songwriter, producer, and musician, is a heckuva nice fellow.

His first solo album, Mass Suicide Occult Figurines, takes its title from a Neutral Milk Hotel lyric. JV likes movies: his 2004 record, Cellar Door, whose title is a Donnie Darko reference, contains the songs "A Promising Actress," which is about David Lynch's Mulholland Drive, and "When it Hits My Blood," which re-tells Requiem for a Dream.

I particularly recommend the Live on WNYC's Soundcheck performance from the main link, featuring Erik Friedlander on cello, the same Erik Friedlander who provided all of Pixel Revolt's string arrangements, as well as playing on The Sunset Tree and collaborating with John Zorn and others.

Finally, here's an acoustic cover of When it Hits My Blood that I recently recorded.
posted by ludwig_van at 7:47 AM on March 27, 2006

Man, I just can't do this without screwing something up! Here's the correct link:

Cooking with JV.
posted by ludwig_van at 7:54 AM on March 27, 2006

I had no idea he was from MK Ultra. Thanks!
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 8:04 AM on March 27, 2006

JV on WNYC's Spinning on Air (MP3 available)
posted by unmake at 8:39 AM on March 27, 2006

Pixel Revolt was probably my overall favorite album of 2005.

There are more MP3s on his site than just the B-sides and bootlegs -- the entirety of Mass Suicide Occult Figurines can be downloaded, in 96, 128, or 256 Kbps.
posted by camcgee at 9:10 AM on March 27, 2006

The TinyTelephone mp3 section was fun while it lasted. JV related mp3s are still available, of course. [yes, I saw the link to the b-side mp3s in the post]
posted by shoepal at 9:14 AM on March 27, 2006

whoops. I apparently didn't see camcgee's comment. My bad. Shoulda previewed.
posted by shoepal at 9:16 AM on March 27, 2006

This is awesome. I love you. Vanderslice is somebody I've always wanted to hear more of, but never took the effort to.
posted by kyleg at 9:23 AM on March 27, 2006

p.s.- All three MK Ultra albums on mp3 here via main mp3 link. Please remember to tip your singer/songwriter.
posted by kyleg at 9:30 AM on March 27, 2006

I've never been all that enthralled with his solo music--for some reason it doesn't click for me. but I enjoy his productions, and I like his style. John Vanderslice is the nicest guy I've met at a rock and roll show.

thank you for the kick-ass post.
posted by carsonb at 9:46 AM on March 27, 2006

Brilliant, thanks ludwig_van.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:02 AM on March 27, 2006

Thanks (he's also touring in April)
posted by iamck at 10:39 AM on March 27, 2006

I'm such a geek for John Vanderslice: thanks for the great post. And I second (or third) the observation that in person John is one of the nicest "rock stars" you'll meet in a while. His notions on functional independence have been formative for me (and his stunt with "Bill Gates Must Die" was in our investment packet for "Nothing So Strange" in explaining the likely risks of the film.) It was definitely MK Ultra that got me hooked originally, but John constantly turns out "challenging" listens that are really rich in production.
posted by bclark at 12:55 PM on March 27, 2006

The official Mountain Goats page. The one linked is a fan page, which took on semi-official status before this one was rolled out.

Mandatory disclosure: I am the official page's designer and admin-type person.
posted by statolith at 6:41 PM on March 27, 2006

JV's solo work is very rewarding. He is a consummate pop craftsman, and I can't believe no-one's mentioned that he's a nice guy. He's a nice guy. Also, as a guy, he's really nice.

Every time I've bought a new album of his, I've resisted it, and complained about how it's nowhere near as good as his previous work. And every time, I come around, until I'm pushing the music on friends and family. Easy listening it ain't, however, so not everyone has the attention span for it.

One thing I've noticed, is that his work is increasingly suited to live shows. I think his earlier work was more studio-focused, while his last two have been really strong in person.

If you like your pop indie and your storytellers uncompromising, check him out.
posted by kahboom at 9:44 PM on March 27, 2006

self-link feature article on JV
posted by Hat Maui at 10:43 PM on March 27, 2006

Oh, and Pitchfork's JV live show roundup this morning.
posted by kahboom at 6:54 AM on March 28, 2006

"Exodus Damage" is a great song, just for the lyric about Dance Dance Revolution.
posted by smackfu at 7:48 AM on March 28, 2006

Since somebody mentioned the Mountain Goats - I enjoyed this:
Rick Moody, Jonathan Lethem and John Darnielle on the crossbreeding of
literature and pop

posted by James_in_London at 9:47 AM on March 28, 2006

Man, I looove Pixel Revolt. And while I think the songs are excellent live, I believe they take full advantage of the studio as well. I think his albums have gotten more fleshed out in terms of songwriting voice, though. On American Four Tracker, there are some great tunes, and there are some filler tracks that go by quickly and don't really go anywhere. I might've said the same thing about Cellar Door, but I've been listening to it lately and I've come to think it's almost as good as Pixel Revolt. But I think PR is consistently excellent from start to finish, and varied enough along the way to make a great continuous listen.
posted by ludwig_van at 5:34 AM on March 29, 2006

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