Few musicians have given as much to the Bay Area indie scene as John Vanderslice. The former frontman of MK Ultra in the latter half of the ’90s, he has since broken off into a successful solo career. His renowned analog recording studio in San Francisco, Tiny Telephone, has recorded great acts, from Death Cab For Cutie to Deerhoof, and he has himself helped produce records for Spoon and The Mountain Goats. Green Grow the Rushes, his latest EP, continues his journey through American alt-rock.
The record features a cacophony of whimsical tones. “Thule Fog” sounds as if it were part circus and part kabuki. Vanderslice manages to fill his record with the strangest of voices, as if he had an orchestra of worldly instruments at his disposal. Even on the relatively straightforward “Lay Down,” he employs an underlying synth sound reminiscent of the ’80s. The result is adventurous, as much a treat for the mind as it is for the ears.
While Vanderslice’s songwriting is remarkable, the production and instrumentation on Green Grow the Rushes truly shine. His songs are articulate and organized without being derivative. It’s refreshing to hear an artist explore new frontiers of sound and succeed so well. (Self-released)