John Vanderslice – “Raw Wood”

John Vanderslice - Dagger Beach

John Vanderslice has a reputation of being one of indie-rock’s nicest musicians, never hesitant to hang out with fans and discuss anything at all. Usually a smile on his face, Vanderslice’s darker cuts can catch some off-guard due to his amiable demeanor. Still, even his most melancholic musings are backed by sprightly arrangements that are lively and bouncy in tone; it provides an enjoyable contrast that gives Vanderslice’s music a form of mystique, somewhere between brooding ballads and jumpy pop anthems. The first track revealed off his upcoming album Dagger Beach shows off that contrast. “Raw Wood” is a psych-infused guitar-led effort that features haunting piano shivers and angular guitar twangs, not to mention a chorus that fascinatingly intertwines male and female vocals. This is an ambitious effort for Vanderslice, one that is accomplished nicely. Odd warbles and effects travel throughout the popping percussion and sporadic guitar entries. It glides over a lonesome sort of lyrical disposition. “My house is a mess, the kind you keep when you don’t have guests,” Vanderslice sings toward the conclusion “One day I’ll fix it right, ‘cuz raw wood never looked so good.” “Raw Wood” flies by as most good Vanderslice tracks do.

In addition to Dagger Beach dropping on June 11th, Vanderslice is releasing a re-imagining of David Bowie’s classic album Diamond Dogs. It was a project made possible by an overwhelmingly successful Kickstarter campaign — raising about $80,000. It gives you an idea of Vanderslice’s passionate fan base. “The best moments on this record are heartbreaking,” Vanderslice said. “I was not deferent to Bowie: I translated lyrics into German, chopped verses, moved bridges, changed chords, and otherwise ran roughshod over this beast.” To get a hint of that, check out “A Better Whirlpool” below — it’s a cover of Bowie’s track “Big Brother”:

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Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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