John Vanderslice’s critically acclaimed fourth album, Cellar Door, falls drastically short. Released Jan. 20, it has been dubbed “the best-produced indie rock to see release in the last several years,” leading the listener to expect more than a lagging tempo, a sound that fails to come together as a whole, and a voice that leaves much to be desired.
After the dismemberment of Vanderslice’s previous band, MK Ultra, a critically acclaimed experimental-pop group, he set out on a solo career. Based in San Francisco, he has four albums to his name, most notably Mass Suicide Occult Figurines, which created a mild media buzz around the song “Bill Gates Must Die.”
Cellar Door is scaled down, with more emphasis on Vanderslice’s voice. Herein lies the problem – his voice provides no support for the excellent instrumentals and adds little to his indented artistic effect. The album’s overall sound is reminiscent of the eclectic and stylish Sacramento band Cake…but without the icing.
Vanderslice is coming off a three-month tour with the well-known indie rock band Beulah and has previously toured with greats such as Dismemberment Plan, Death Cab for Cutie, and Jets to Brazil. Many of his past tour mates make cameos on Cellar Door, providing the highpoints of the album.
John Vanderslice’s closest venue is in Orlando, Fla., at the Social on Mar. 24, with Stellastar and Will Johnson. I’d save my gas money, but music is in the ear of the listener.
Jessica Sanders can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Matt Dingerdissen
Sleep No More opens with the somber spoken-word lyrics, “‘Why, if God is good, is there evil in the world?” In this album DJ Signify offers an eclectic collection of slow, haunting instrumental tracks, upbeat retro samples, and more traditional rap. Rappers Sage Francis and Buck 65 appear on three tracks each, providing DJ Signify with solid lyrics on songs like “Stranded” and “Haunted House Party” in a reserved and matter-of-fact manner.
Behind the vocals are a strong beats, an array of instruments including bells, keyboards, and drums keeping rhythm. In addition to these sounds a variety of beeps and bleeps can be heard on some tracks.
The songs “Peek’a Boo” parts one, two, and three fill in the middle of the album. These tracks are where Signify experiments with old school horns and a little bit of scratching as well as more traditional drums instead of a beat machine. They’re only a combined six minutes long, but they are definitely the most up beat tracks and in my opinion the highlight of the album.
This album definitely has style, but unfortunately drags at points. The opening track “Fly Away” and the closer “Breath” are each just a little too long, almost urging listeners to press fast forward. It’s catchy though, and makes for good background music.
Matt Dingerdissen can be contacted at email@example.com.