Our readers may have noticed from previous posts that John Vanderslice is one of my favorite people in independent music for a number of reasons: he’s released an unbroken string of excellent albums that can be accurately described as “sterophonic bliss” (and his eighth full length – Dead Oceans – is finished and should be out soon); he is a thoughtful and meticulous producer (his Tiny Telephone studios in San Francisco is probably one of the greatest independent recording studios in the country); he tweets about his favorite Bay Area farmer’s market; and he has a reputation for being one of the nicest people in rock ‘n’ roll. I’ve met him on two occasions now, once when he was acting as a guest bartender at a Noise Pop show and recently at the excellent Bay Bridged hosted Regional Bias show with Thao Nguyen. On both occasions we only spoke briefly, but he did mention that he previously worked at the Alice Waters founded restaurant Chez Panisse for several years – and that the experience changed his life. Similarly, the chilled corn soup with garlic custard and shrimp recipe that Kasey is featuring today on eating/sf is flavorful and subtly impressive enough that it would certainly feel right at home alongside any meal at any Michelin-rated restaurant including Chez Panisse. And thus, I’m pairing this bit of culinary awesomeness with one of J.V.’s albums of analog-awesomeness: 2005’s Pixel Revolt.
The reason to love Pixel Revolt, as with nearly any John Vanderslice album, is Vanderslice’s attention for detail. That may not sound very rock ‘n’ roll, but then, Vanderslice certainly isn’t your usual rock star. The same way a chef is at home in a kitchen, one imagines J.V. at home in a recording studio. Throw on a pair of good headphones and listen to “Exodus Damage” or “Peacocks in the Video Rain” and notice how beautifully each instrument comes in and out or pans at exactly the right moment. Soft, organic drums begin on the left channel but a little flash of percussion calls out from the right channel. Listen to “Trance Manual” and “Angela” and notice the engaging little flourishes and shimmers that catch your attention, but don’t distract from the overall melody. In other words, Pixel Revolt is an album that features lush production and narrative lyrics in the context of catchy, intelligent pop songs. What more could you want? Pixel Revolt is available from Barsuk.
Head back to eating/sf to read the recipe for the chilled corn soup with garlic custard & shrimp.